Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Linguistics Program

Committee Chair

Tully Thibeau


agreement, binding, Brazilian Portuguese, syntax


University of Montana


Research (Duarte, 1995, Barbosa et al. 2005) indicates that Brazilian Portuguese (BP) is evolving linguistically: it apparently contains two grammars that are partially +NSL and partially –NSL. Within the framework of the Position of the Antecedent Hypothesis (PAH) advocated by (Carminati, 2002), null and overt subjects retrieve antecedents in different structural positions. Pronoun-antecedent agreement is based exclusively on the syntactic configuration of a clause in which a null pronoun is bound to a sentential subject antecedent; however, an overt pronoun retrieves an antecedent in a lower syntactic position (e.g., the direct object), or outside of the clause (e.g., a discursive antecedent). By providing new data which contributes to previous findings (Duarte, 1995, Modesto, 2000, Carminati, 2002, Barbosa et al. 2005, Filiaci, 2010), this study empirically tests whether the referring preferences of null and overt subject pronouns are determined by syntactic (linguistic, language specific) or pragmatic (non-linguistic, setting specific) factors in finite embedded or coordinate clauses. Results indicate that BP appears to rely on syntactic factors (e.g., c-command, Principles A & B, feature checking of person, number and gender agreement), predicate-argument structure (i.e. the type of predicate involved such as causatives like persuade, tell, or advise, convey that an external argument (the subject) is implicitly responsible for an action), and some degree of pragmatic constraints to retrieve an antecedent in finite embedded and coordinate clauses. This study has broad implications for colonial varieties of European +NSLs because the proposal in this study predicts that cross-linguistically languages with divergent subject-verb agreement conjugation from European dialects that have null and overt pronoun alternations should deviate from the PAH regarding pronoun-antecedent ambiguity resolution in finite embedded and coordinate clauses since overt pronouns do not always signal a preference to detach from the syntactic subject.



© Copyright 2012 Kier Chrsitine Hanson-Santos