Maria Marta Pereira Scherre Universidade de Brasília Universidade /Federal do Rio de Janeiro

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1 SCHERRE, M. M. P. in press. Major linguistic patterns in noun phrase agreement in Brazilian Portuguese. Cinquanta anni di recerche linguistiche: problemi, resultati e prospettive per il terzo millennio. Atti del IX convegno internazionale di linguisti tenuto a Milano nei giorni 8-18 ottobre Alessandria: Edizioni dell Orso S.r.l pp (ISBN ) Sodalizio Glottologico Milanese Instituto Lombardo Academia di Scienze e Leterre. MAJOR LINGUISTICS PATTERNS IN NOUN PHRASE AGREEMENT IN BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE Maria Marta Pereira Scherre Universidade de Brasília Universidade /Federal do Rio de Janeiro INTRODUCTION Subject/verb agreement, subject/predicate adjective agreement and noun phrase agreement in spoken Brazilian Portuguese are variable phenomena, i.e., sometimes they show overt plural marking and sometimes they show zero plural marking (cf. Naro 1981 Scherre & Naro 1991). In this paper, I present strong evidence that an insightful analysis of noun phrase number agreement in informal spoken language should consider the complex interaction of the following constraints: 1) linear and relative position within the noun phrase; 2) preceding markers across linear position; and 3) phonic salience. The results show quite clearly the predominance of "structural factors rather than functional tendencies to preserve information" ( Labov 1994). In the standard dialect, it is assumed that all nominal elements of a semantically plural noun phrase must have an overt plural marker: the suffix S, as illustrated in [1], whereas a semantically singular noun phrase shows a zero singular marker: the zero morpheme. Thus, both singular or plural number agreement rules are assumed by the grammatical tradition in Brazilian Portuguese as obligatory or categorical processes (cf. Cunha & Cintra 1985). [1] Noun phrases with all overt plural marker (-S) os alunos The students Gli studenti os meus velhos amigos my old friends i miei vecchi amici as partidas todas iguais 'all the equal matches' However, agreement plural marking within noun phrases is under systematic variation in Brazilian Portuguese, which displays all overt plural markers as just illustrated in [1] as well as overt plural markers (-S) and zero plural marker (-0), as illustrated in [2] and [3]: [2] Noun phrase with overt plural (-S) and zero (-0) plural marker os aluno0 The students Gli studenti essas estradas nova0 these new roads questi nuovi stradi

2 2 as porta0 aberta0 the open doors le porte aperte [3] Noun phrase with zero plural marker (-0) cinco menino0 five boys cinque raggazzi dois risco0 verde0 two green lines due linea verte uma porção0 de coisa0 interessante0 a lot of interesting things As I will demonstrate in the analysis of 13,101 semantically nominal plural tokens, the following generalization can be drawn: (1) nominal elements to the left of the nominal head favor overt plural markers, while nominal elements to the right of the nominal head favor zero plural markers. The head itself favors overt plural markers if it is more to the left in the noun phrase; otherwise the head disfavors markers; (2) preceding markers lead to more markers, and preceding zeros lead to more zeros; (3) more phonic material differentiation in the singular/plural opposition and stressed final syllable also favor overt plural markers. Besides emphasizing the importance of structural factors, the present study refutes the position adopted by Guy (1981), which claims that the effects of linear position and grammatical class "are virtually identical", rekindling the debate concerning two hypotheses on the origins of variable number agreement in Brazilian Portuguese, namely whether the change is natural, with the acceleration of a preexisting European drift (Naro 1981; Naro & Scherre 1993; Scherre 1988; 1994), or a process of decreolization (Guy 1989). The research was conducted by the theoretical principles of the theory of linguistic variation (Weinreich, Labov & Herzog 1968; Labov 1975; Sankoff 1988a; Labov 1994). Therefore, I see the language as an object possessing orderly heterogeneity (Weinreich, Labov & Herzog 1968, p.100). Our sample consists of 64 speakers from Rio de Janeiro, recorded by PEUL (Programa de Estudos Sobre o Uso da Língua) research project (Silva & Scherre 1996), and is stratified for sex, age, and years of schooling (excluding illiterates and university level). In the analysis presented in this paper, each element of the noun phrases of the sample has been treated as a separate datum for purposes of coding and statistical processing. 13,101 nominal tokens have been analyzed. 71% of them - including determiners, adjectives and nouns - show overt plural marker. For quantitative data processing, I used the VARBRUL programs, 1988/1992 binary version (Sankoff 1988b; Pintzuk 1988). This program analyzes all independent variable or factor group together and each factor is assigned a factor

3 3 value [labeled relative ] - a number between zero and one [measuring] the effect of the factor on the variable [process] in question (Guy 1988, p.126). THE ANALYSIS Linear and relative position within the noun phrase The earliest quantitative studies of agreement phenomena in Brazil (Naro & Lemle 1976; Naro 1981) dealt with subject/verb agreement. One of the most established facts of the original research was that plural subjects which pre-pose the verb cause a much higher rate of plural marking on the verb than similar subjects that post-pose the verb. In natural informal speech, plural marking on verbs with post-posed plural subjects is almost absent. This result has been confirmed in all subsequent research (cf. Nicolau 1984; Rodrigues 1987; Graciosa 1991 Naro & Scherre, to appear). According to early research, in the noun phrases of the type illustrated in [1], [2] and [3], marking is nearly categorical in the first linear position and declines in frequency of use for each successive linear position further placed to the right from the beginning of the phrase (cf. Braga 1977; Scherre 1978; Guy 1981; for variationist analysis; and Amaral 1920; Marroquim 1945; Melo 1946; Nascentes 1953, for dialetological analysis). In 1998, Scherre showed that the initial linear view of agreement within the noun phrase was not entirely correct: it is not only the element in the first linear position that is highly marked. The correct formulation states that all prehead elements show a very high rate of presence of plural markers, while all post-head elements are less marked. This result has been also confirmed in all subsequent research (Dias 1993; Brandão 1994; Fernandes 1996; Carvalho 1997 and Almeida 1997). In [4] the pre-head elements are os 'The' and os meus velhos 'my old. In [5] the post-head elements are todas iguais all the equal ; aberta0 'open' and meu0 mine. In [6], the examples show the head across positions: on the first position, colegas friends, coisas things and representante0 representatives ; on the second position, alunos students and porta0 'doors'; on the others positions, ações actions and amigos 'friends'. [4] pre-head nominal elements: underlined tokens

4 4 os alunos The students /os meus velhos amigos my old fiends [5] post-head nominal elements: underlined tokens as partidas todas iguais/ as porta0 aberta0 the open doors colegas meu0 friends of mine [6] head across positions: underlined tokens first position: colegas meu0 friends of mine /coisas lindas beautiful things representante0 diretos legal representatives second position: os alunos The students /as porta0 aberta0 the open doors other positions: as boas ações 'the good actions'/os meus velhos amigos my old fiends All the results of the correct formulation of this variable can be found in Table 1 and Figure 1 (cf. Scherre 1988; Naro & Scherre 1993; Scherre 1994; 1998). The first column displays the results for all the data; and, in the other three columns, the results are displayed by years of schooling: 1-4; 5-8 and 9-11 (this is true for all tables presented in this paper). In the binary version of the VARBRUL program, it is assumed that relative s greater than 0.50 favor the overt plural marker and smaller than 0.50 disfavor it and favor the zero plural marker. However, as Sankoff (1988b) emphasizes, it is the comparison of the effects of any two factors in a factor group (as measured by their difference) which is important, and not their individual values. As can be seen in Table 1, for all the data and for the data subdivided according to years of schooling, we notice that the first two categories, consisting of the pre-head elements in different linear positions, both show high relative s for marking. In contrast to the high values for pre-head, the two post-head categories have both very low values. In sum, the results clearly demonstrate that the elements occurring to the left of the head are marked more frequently than the elements to the right of the head, almost independently of their linear position from the left. For the head itself, the leftmost category (head in position 1) also favors overt plural marker - with the highest relative - and the other positions disfavor it - with low relative s. Analyzing subject/verb agreement, Naro (1981) claims that the positional relationship is most salient where the subject immediately precedes the verb, i.e., where the subject occurs to the left of the verb, and is less salient where the subject follows the verb, i.e., where the subject occurs to the right of the verb. For the noun phrase agreement,

5 5 positional salience explains the effect for linear and relative position exactly in the same main direction. T A B L E 1 - Results for rate of plural marking within the noun phrase according to linear and relative position within the noun phrase FACTOR CORPORA ALL THE DATA 1-4 YEARS OF 5-8 YEARS OF 9-11 YEARS OF Pre-head in position 1 Pre-head in other positions Post-head in position 2 Post-head in other positions Weight Weight 4882/5002=98% 0,88 263/ 278=95% 0,85 104/149=70% 0,30 172/481=36% 0, /1870=97% 0,89 73/80=91% 0,82 15/29=52% 0,28 30/158=19% 0, /1820=98% 0,87 90/96=94% 0,86 40/57=70% 0,36 60/178=34% 0, /1312=98% 0,83 100/102=98% 0,90 47/61=77% 0,23 82/145=57% 0,13 Head in position 1 (more to the LEFT position) Weight 178/189=94% 34/38=89% 65/70=93% 76/78=97% 0,64 0,62 0,63 0, /6377=51% 895/2406=37% 1277/2404=53% 1092/1552=70% Head in position 2 0,20 0,19 0,21 0,23 381/625=61% 98/220=45% 142/221=64% 140/183=77% Head in other positions 0,24 0,23 0,23 0,28 Total 9259/13101=71% 2966/4801=62% 3451/4846=71% 2822/3433=82% Preceding markers across linear position Preceding markers across linear position is a independent variable that was insightfully discussed by Poplack (1980) in the paper The notion of the plural in Puerto Rican Spanish: competing constraints on (s) deletion. Indeed Poplack s analysis leads us to demonstrate that, in noun phrase agreement in Brazilian Portuguese, this variable works in the same main direction: One marker leads to more, and deletion of a marker leads to further deletions (Poplack 1980, p.54). Examples for the most relevant factors of this independent variable can be seen in Table 2 and the results can be seen in Table 3. As can be seen in Table 3, again for all samples and sub-samples analyzed, two or more preceding overt plural markers favor another overt plural marker, and zero plural marker from the second position disfavors plural marker. One overt plural marker in position 1 and mixed markers with overt plural marker preceding have intermediate

6 6 effect. As Poplack (1980, p.64) says It also runs counter to any functional claim. Scherre & Naro (1991, p.23) also say that these results contradict the principle of linguistic economy, since marking tends to occur precisely in those contexts in which it is most highly redundant and could therefore be discarded with no loss of information. Moreover, assuming Scherre & Naro s (1991) claim concerning subject/verb number agreement and subject/predicate adjective number agreement in spoken Brazilian Portuguese, it is possible to say that noun phrase number agreement is also subject to a parallel processing effect, a universal tendency to repeat similar grammatical forms. Marker preceding analyzed token Table 2 - Examples of preceding markers across linear position Position of token in string Examples (marker preceding in bold capital letter and analyzed token underlined) Two or more plural markers of the same type SS_ 3 as boas ações 'the good actions' SSS_ 4 os meus velhos amigos 'my old friends' Zero plural marker from the second position S0_ (overt plural marker and zero plural marker) N0_ (number and zero plural marker One overt plural marker in position 1 S_ Mixed markers with overt plural marker preceding 0S_ (zero plural marker and overt plural marker) NS_ (number and overt plural marker) 3 umass borracha0 grande big rubbers 3 DOIS risco0 verde two green lines 2 OS aluno0 The students as boas ações 'the good actions' 3 do0 meus pais it belongs to my parents 3 NOVE núcleos formados nine established groups Linguistic parallelism -- the universal tendency for similar forms to occur together within a part of discourse -- has been shown to be very strong in many other variable phenomena in Brazilian Portuguese (see Omena 1978/1996; Scherre & Naro 1991; Mollica 1991; Scherre 1988). This is also known to be relevant in other languages, such as (1) Spanish: noun phrase agreement (Poplack 1980) and direct quotations (Cameron 1998); (2) English: active/passive alternation (Weiner & Labov 1983) and past/historical present alternation (Schiffrin 1981); (3) French: on/tu/vous,

7 7 on/ils, and nous/on alternations (Sankoff & Laberge 1978); (4) Cape Verde Creole: left dislocation and topicalization (Braga 1982); (5) Quechua: subject/verb agreement (Lefèvre 1981). T A B L E 3 - Results for rate of plural marking within the noun phrase according to preceding markers across linear position Marker(s) preceding analyzed token Position of token in string ALL DATA 1-4 YEARS OF 5-8 YEARS OF 9-11 YEARS OF Two or more preceding overt plural markers 3 e 4 294/418=70% 0,68 68/116=59% 0,70 96/135=71% 0,73 129/166=78% 0,58 Zero plural marker from the second position 3, 4 e 5 14/225 0,07 4/98=4% 0,09 5/91=5% 0,06 5/36=14% 0,07 One overt plural marker in position /4768=53% 0,49 666/1744=38% 0,51 938/1742=54% 913/1268=72% Mixed markers with overt plural marker preceding 3 e 4 235/442=53% 55/160=34% 0,38 97/165=59% 0,56 83/117=71% 0,52 Phonic salience Naro & Lemle (1976) and Naro (1981) assume that increasing phonic salience of the singular/plural opposition correlates to increasing chances of agreement. Naro (1981) establishes two dimensions of phonic salience: stress and material differentiation in singular/plural opposition. In this paper, I assume the major ideas of Naro (1981) and I analyze the two dimensions of the phonic salience in the following way: PHONIC MATERIAL DIFFERENTIATION OF THE SINGULAR/PLURAL OPPOSITION 1) double markers (vocalic opening and insertion of -S) ovo/ovos [ ovu/ çvus] egg/eggs ; avô/avós [a vo]/[a vçs] grandfather/ grandfather and grandmother 2) greater differentiation (insertion of -S with morphophonemic changes) mulher/mulheres [mu Eh]/ [mu ERiS] woman/women avião/aviões [avi ãw]/[avi õys] plane/planes 3) minor differentiation (insertion of -S) casa/casas [ kaza]/[ kazas]; house/houses ; café/cafés [ka fe]/[ka fes] coffee/coffees ;

8 8 STRESS OF SINGULAR FORM 1) stressed final syllable café/cafés [ka fe]/[ka fes] coffee/coffees ; mulher/mulheres [mu Eh]/ [mu ERiS] woman/women avião/aviões [avi ãw]/[avi õys] plane/planes 2) unstressed final syllable casa/casas [ kaza]/[ kazas]; house/houses árvore/árvores [ ahvçri]/[ ahvçris]. tree/trees dólar/dólares [ dçllah]/[ dçllaris] dollar/dollars The results presented in table 4 also show the same regularity observed for the other independent variables: the effect of each factor for all samples and sub-samples is the same. As it was assumed by Naro (1981), phonic material differentiation and stress show both strong and similar effect for all samples analyzed. Increasing phonic material differentiation increases probability of overt plural marker: double marker show the higher relative s: this factor favors more overt plural marker; greater phonic material differentiation also favors overt plural marker, but with relative lower then double marker; and minor differentiation shows the lowest relative s, disfavoring overt plural marker, relatively. Similarly, stressed final syllable favors overt plural marker and unstressed final syllable disfavors it. T A B L E 4 - Results of the rate of plural marking within the noun phrase according to two dimensions of phonic salience PHONIC MATERIAL DIFFERENTIATION Double marker Greater Minor STRESS OF SINGULAR FORM Stressed final syllable Unstressed final syllable Weight all data 75/ 85=88% 0,91 819/ 972=84% 0, /12044=69% 1-4 YEARS OF 24/28=86% 0,92 253/329=77% 0, /1755=61% 5-8 YEARS OF 34/ 40=85% 0,90 291/351=83% 0, /4455=70% 9-11 YEARS OF 17/17=100% + 275/292=94% 0, /3145=81% 0,47 all data 1-4 years 5-8 years 9-11 years 1197/1422=84% 0, /11679=84% 0,47 402/514=78% 0, /4287=60% 0,47 438/528=83% 0, /4318=70% 355/378=94% 0, /3059=81% Total 9259/13101=71% 2966/4801=62% 3451/4846=71% 2826/3437=82% 0,47

9 9 CONCLUSION In conclusion, the variation in noun phrase plural agreement in spoken Brazilian Portuguese cannot be explained by the principle of linguistic economy, that only accounts for the possibility of variation, and not for its structure. The influence of the POSITION and of PHONIC SALIENCE is interpreted by the principle of salience: forms that are more salient are more perceivable, therefore they receive overt plural marker. PRECEDING MARKERS are explained by the parallel processing principle, that underlies the repetition phenomena, general and frequent in all natural languages (cf. Tannen 1989; Schiffrin 1981; Scherre, 1988; Scherre & Naro 1992; Scherre, 1998). These three constraints are not specific for Brazilian Portuguese. Therefore it is unlikely that they could be assigned to the process of creolization, in the orthodox sense adopted by Guy (1989). At this point, it is useful to recall Naro & Scherre s (to appear) point of view in the paper Variable concord in Portuguese: the situation in Brazil and Portugal : Modern Brazilian Portuguese is the natural result of the centuries-old drift inherent in the language brought from Portugal, exaggerated, it is true, in Brazil by the exuberance of contact of adult language speakers of the most diverse origins. REFERENCES E. M. Almeida, A variação da concordância nominal num dialeto rural (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Faculdade de Letras), Rio de Janeiro A. Amaral, O dialeto caipira, O Livro, São Paulo M. L. Braga, A Concordância de número no sintagma nominal no triângulo mineiro (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Dept o. de Letras e Artes), Rio de Janeiro Left-dislocation and topicalization in capeverdean creole, University of Pennsylvania, S. F. Brandão, Em torno de um velho tema: o cancelamento da marca de número na fala das comunidades rurais brasileiras, RILP - Revista Internacional de Língua Portuguesa 12 (1994), pp H. M. Carvalho, A influência da variável classe e posição em relação ao núcleo na concordância nominal de número, in D. da Hora (org.). Diversidade lingüística no Brasil, Idéia, João Pessoa 1977, pp R. Cameron, A variable syntax of speech, gesture, and sound effect: Direct quotation in Spanish, Language Variation and Change 10(1) (1998), pp Cambridge University Press. C. Cunha, & L. F. Cintra, Nova gramática do português contemporâneo, Nova Fronteira, Rio de Janeiro M. C. A. C. Dias, A variação na concordância nominal: um contraste entre o urbano e o rural na fala brasiliense (Universidade de Brasília, IL/LIV), Brasília M. Fernandes, Concordância nominal na região sul (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina), Florianópolis D. M D. Graciosa, Concordância verbal na fala culta carioca (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Faculdade de Letras), Rio de Janeiro G. R. Guy, Parallel Variability in American dialects of Spanish and Portuguese, in D. Sankoff, & H. Cedergren, Variation Omnibus, Linguistic Inc., Canada 1981 pp

10 . Advanced Varbrul Analysis, in K. Ferrara, et al. (eds.) Linguistic change and contact, (Texas Linguistic Forum, vol. 30) Austin: University of Texas, Department of Linguistics, 1988, pp On the nature and origins of popular Brazilian Portuguese. in Estudios sobre Espanhol da América Y Lingüistica Afroamericana, Bogota 1989, pp W. Labov, Sociolinguistics patterns, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia Principles of Linguistic Change - Internal Factors. Blackwell, Cambridge C. Lefèbre, Variation in plural marking: the case of Cuzco quechua, in D. Sankoff, & H. Cedregren, (eds.). Variation Omnibus, Linguistic Research Inc., Canada 1981, pp M. C. de M. Mollica, Processing and morpho-semantic effects in complemantation in Brazilian Portuguese, Language Variation and Change 3 (1991), pp Cambridge University Press. M. Marroquim, A língua do nordeste - Alagoas e Pernambuco, Nacional, São Paulo A. J. Naro, & M. Lemle, Syntactic diffusion, in S. B. Steever et alii (eds.) Papers from the parasession on diachronic suntax. Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago 1976, pp A. J. Naro, The social and structural dimensions of a syntactic change, Language 57(1) (1981), pp LSA. A J. Naro, & M. M. P. Scherre, Sobre as origens do português popular do Brasil, DELTA 9(nº Especial) (1993), pp Educ., São Paulo. Variable Concord in Portuguese: the situation in Brazil and Portugal, in J. McWhorter. (ed.), Current issues in pidgin and creole linguistics. Amsterdam, Benjamins. To appear. E. M. das D. Nicolau, A ausência de concordância verbal em português: uma abordagem sociolingüística (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), Belo Horizonte A. Nascentes, O linguajar carioca, Organização Simões, Rio de Janeiro N. Omena. Pronome pessoal de terceira pessoa: suas formas variantes em função acusativa, (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro), Rio de Janeiro N. Omena, A referência à primeira pessoa do discurso no plural, in G. M de O e Silva & M. M. P. Scherre (orgs.) Padrões sociolingüísticos - análises de fenômenos variáveis do português falado no Rio de Janeiro, Tempo Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro pp S. Pintzuk, VARBRUL programs, Unpublished manuscript. S. Poplack, The notion of the plural in Puerto Rico Spanish: competing constraints on /s/ deletion, in W. Labov (ed.), Locating language in time and space. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 1980, pp A C. de S. Rodrigues, A concordância verbal no português popular em São Paulo (Universidade de São Paulo), São Paulo D. Sankoff, Sociolinguistics and syntactic variation, in F. J. Newmeyer (ed.), Linguistics: the Cambridge survey. Volume IV (Language: the socio-cultural context), Cambridge University Press, New York 1988a, pp Variable rules, in U. Ammon, N. Dittmar, & K. J. Mattheier (eds.), Sociolinguistcs - An international handbook of the science of language and society, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York 1988b, pp D. Sankoff & S. Laberge, Statistical dependence among successive occurrences of a variation in discourse, in D. Sankoff (ed.), Linguistic variation: models and methods. Academic Press, New York 1978, pp M. M. P. Scherre, A regra de concordância de número no sintagma nominal em português. (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro), Rio de Janeiro Reanálise da concordância nominal em português (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Faculdade de Letras), Rio de Janeiro Aspectos da concordância de número no português do Brasil, RILP - Revista Internacional de Língua Portuguesa 12 (1994), pp Variação da concordância nominal no português do Brasil: influência das variáveis posição, classe gramatical e marcas precedentes, in S. GroBe, & K. Zimmermann (eds.), 10

11 <<Substandard>> e mudança lingüística no português do Brasil, TFM, Frankfurt am Main pp M. M. P. Scherre & A J. Naro, Marking in Discourse: Birds of a Feather, "Language Variation and change 3 (1991), pp Cambridge University Press. G. M. de O. e Silva & M. M. P. Scherre (orgs.), Padrões sociolingüísticos - análise de fenômenos variáveis do português falado no Rio de Janeiro, Tempo Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro D. Schiffrin, Tense variation in narrative, Language 57(1) (1981),.pp LSA D. Tannen, Talking voices: repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge E. J. Weiner & W. Labov, Constraints on the agentless passive, Journal of Linguistics 19 (1983), pp U. Weinreich, W. Labov & M. I. Herzog, Empirical Foundations for a Theory of Language Change, in W. Lehmann & Y. Malkiel (eds.), Directions for Historical Linguistics, University of Texas Press, Austin 1968, pp

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