Topics, Subjects and Grammatical Change: from Classical to Modern European Portuguese

Silvia Regina de Oliveira Cavalcante, Charlotte Galves, Maria Clara Paixão de Sousa


This paper presents a diachronic account of the syntax of subjects in Portuguese by comparing three different constructions -- active, canonical passives and SE-constructions -- relating the change in the position of subjects to the loss of V2. In the V2 grammar, in which the pre-verbal position is associated with fronted elements, and non-fronted subjects remain in post-verbal position, we see the same patterns of word order in SE-constructions as in active and canonical passive sentences; in the (X)SVO grammar, in which the subject is associated with the preverbal position and the fronted elements occupy the left periphery of the clause, active and canonical passives show a significant increase of pre-verbal subjects, whereas SE-constructions remain alike with respect to word order. We interpret this result as evidence for analyzing the internal argument of SE-constructions as a complement rather than a subject.

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LaborHistórico | ISSN 2359-6910

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