The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/12 - Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM)

Speaker: Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM)
Title: Silent nouns (TYPE, HUE, SIZE, and SURNAME) in Brazilian Portuguese nominal concord
Time: Tuesday, April 12th, 1pm – 2pm

Abstract: This talk aims to present a work in progress on nominal concord in BP structures, such as the following:

(1) a. “10 ovos caipira vermelhos” (10 eggs caipira red-PL / ‘10 red pasture-raised eggs’)
b. “10 ovos tipo jumbo brancos” (10 eggs type jumbo white-PL / ‘10 white jumbo-sized eggs’)
((1a,b) were taken from packaging labels of egg’s boxes in grocery stores of Belo Horizonte -MG, December 4th, 2021)
(1) a’. “10 ovos [(do TIPO) caipira] vermelhos” (10 eggs (of-the TYPE) caipira red-PL / ‘10 red pasture-raised eggs’)
(2) fitas [(do TIPO) cassete] médias (tapes (of-the TYPE) cassette medium-PL / ‘Medium cassettes’)
(3) camisas [(de TAMANHO) P] novas (t-shirts (of SIZE) S new-PL/ ‘new t-shirts S’)
(4) “50 máscaras [(do TIPO) adulto] descartáveis” (50 masks (of-the TYPE) adult disposable-PL / ‘50 disposable masks for adults’)
(5) “lavagem [(do TIPO) expresso]” (laundry-FEM (of-the TYPE) express-MASC / ‘express laundry’)
(6) saia [(de TOM) vermelho escuro] (skirt-FEM (of HUE) red-MASC dark-MASC / ‘a dark red skirt’)
(7) os (familiares [de SOBRENOME) Pereira] (the (relatives of SURNAME) Pereira / ‘the Pereiras’)

Most of the data were collected from written sources that intend to apply standard patterns of agreement, id est, the redundant plural marking in the constituents of the DP. That is why the morpheme ‘-s’ is marked in ‘ovos’ and ‘vermelhos’ (1a) as well as in ‘ovos’ and ‘brancos’ (1b). Being so, why is the word ‘caipira’ (1a) unmarked with the plural morpheme? Kayne (2005), Pesetsky (2013), and Höhn (2016) consider the existence of a null category to account for the apparent mismatch of agreement, respectively, in number in Italian and French, in gender in Russian, and in person in Spanish and Greek. Likewise, I assume that a nominal null category, in the DP, triggers the number agreement in DPs like (1). Following Kayne (2005) and Pereira’s (2016a, 2016b, 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021) approach on structures with apparent mismatch of agreement in BP, I argue that (1a) projects a silent noun TIPO (TYPE), preceded by the preposition ‘de’, as illustrated in (1a’). Therefore, ‘caipira’ is inflected in singular, because it agrees in number with a singular silent noun TIPO. This same silent noun is overt in (1b). In this operation (PESETSKY; TORREGO, 2007), the adjective (probe), containing uninterpretable gender features, becomes valued [uF val] via agreement with the silent noun TIPO (TYPE), containing interpretable and valued gender features [iF val]. Likewise, (2) to (7) project the silent nouns TIPO (TYPE), TAMANHO (SIZE), TOM (HUE), and SOBRENOME (SURNAME). In these structures, the postnominal constituents in the brackets agree with the respective silent noun that precedes them in singular number (‘cassete’ (2), ‘P’ (3), and ‘Pereira’ (7)) as well as in masculine gender (‘adulto’ (4), ‘expresso’ (5), and ‘vermelho escuro’ (6)).

In sum, this analysis demonstrates that there is no “unagreement”, in the phrases at stake, but agreement between the adjective and a silent noun, in the DP-internal structure.