Towards a semantic-pragmatic account of antes (before) and depois (after) in European Portuguese

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1 Comunicação apresentada ao: III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva Valencia, de mayo de 2002 Towards a semantic-pragmatic account of antes (before) and depois (after) in European Portuguese Ana Cristina Macário Lopes Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal Maria da Felicidade Araújo Morais Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Abstract In this paper, we describe the semantic values of the Portuguese adverbs antes and depois. The synchronic analysis is based on empirical data collected in the Reference Corpus of Contemporary Portuguese. Besides the prototypica1 temporal value, we describe a gradual extension of senses, which involve various domains: space, scalar evaluation, illocution and text/discourse structure. The theoretical hypothesis put forward is the following: the polyfunctional nature of these items may be explained if we assume that linguistic significance is allocated to several levels of analysis: propositional, interpersonal and textual. The prototypical value - the expression of an anteriority or posteriority relation regarding a reference point - is mapped on these different leve1s, within a network of semantic links. It is our opinion that the grammatica1ization process (the category change from adverbs into connectives) is accompanied by pragmatic specifications. In this paper, we intend to analyse the values revealed by the items antes and depois in an oral corpus of contemporary European Portuguese 1. We start by considering its spatial and temporal values, which contribute to 1. For a detailed analysis of the functioning of antes and depois, see Lopes and Morais : The corpus that supplied us the data under analysis is part of the Corpus de Referência do Português Contemporâneo [CRPC] (Reference Corpus of Contemporary Portuguese), organized by the Centre of Linguistics of the University of Lisbon. Data collection was done in The co-text considered for the analysis of each occurrence is generally comprised of an extent of text four lines before and four lines after the item in appreciation. Each line has approximately 70 characters. In this corpus, there are 222 occurrences of antes and 3869 occurrences depois; of these last ones, 952 occurrences in which the value of depois seems more difficult to determine (for several reasons, such as ruptures in the discursive development and semantic ambiguity) will not be dealt with at this time.

2 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva the referential meaning of the sentence, and then we consider further uses, which cannot be properly described without taking into account the interpersonal and the textual domains of meaning (in Halliday s sense, 1985). 1. Referential values 1.1. In our corpus occurrences of antes and depois with a spatial value are relatively scarce: 2 occurrences of antes and 32 of depois. Notice the following examples: (1) Antes do rio, está uma casa abandonada. [Before the river, there is an abandoned house.] (2) Mas ali ao pé de Odivelas ainda é outra terra qualquer, é Odivelas, depois Paiã depois a Pontinha. [CRPC: A M-D-1-8-A] [ But near Odivelas there s still another town, it s Odivelas, then Paiã then Pontinha. ] These utterances express the relative location of an area (or of the entity that occupies a certain area) a, resorting to another area (or entity) b, that functions as a reference point for the location. The adverbs antes and depois establish the location of a, marking its anteriority or posteriority, respectively, in relation to the reference point b. These items function, therefore, as two places predicates, and thus their semantic saturation is guaranteed by the filling in of a and b. Between these two lexemes, there is a converse semantic relationship in so far as antes (a,b) is equivalent to depois (b,a). The spatial location established by antes or depois presupposes the existence of a path, delimited by a starting point and a final point. Between these two points it is possible to find a variable number of different locations organized in a sequential manner. The path involves a potential movement orientated from the starting point to the final one. Usually, the initial point of the path coincides with the area occupied by the speaker, the path corresponding to the speaker s view, and the final 2

3 Ana Cristina M. LOPES & M.ª da Felicidade A. MORAIS point is an entity placed in the observer s perceptive space. In this sense, the organization of spatial reference is basically deictic. As movement in space necessarily involves time, the contamination of space and time values can be easily understood In the corpus the uses of antes and depois with a temporal value are clearly predominant: in fact, 80.1% of the occurrences of antes and 66.4% of the occurrences of depois convey this type of meaning. Let us observe the following utterances: (3) a notícia desse encontro era pública, antes da visita do presidente da república [CRPC: O171] [ the news of that meeting was made public, before the visit from the president of the republic ] (4) antes o pai levantava problemas com as idas para casa depois da meianoite [CRPC: B F-J-5-6-A] [ father used to object to coming home after midnight ] (5) A Patrícia chega às 9h e o João chegará depois. [Patrícia arrives at 9 o clock and João will arrive after.] (6) depois que vim para Lisboa comecei a gostar mais de Lisboa [CRPC: A F-L-1-2-A] [ After coming to Lisbon I began to like Lisbon more ] Antes and depois presuppose that the time axis is divided, from a reference point, into two parts/halves. These items express the location of states of affairs or situations in a time interval previous (antes) or posterior (depois) to that reference point. They function as two-place predicates, and their arguments are, on the one hand, the located situation and, on the other, the time interval that supplies the reference point for the location. The time locators antes and depois are intrinsically vague, since they do not give precise information about the amplitude of the time interval that mediates between the reference point and the located situation. These adverbials construct a dependent, not autonomous time location. The reference point for the time location can be indexed to the 3

4 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva utterance time (see, for example, the use of antes in (4)), or it can be constructed by the discourse context through a referential time expression (as in the remaining examples). Thus, these items can function either as deictic adverbials, or as anaphoric adverbials 2. In the analysed corpus, the time locators antes and depois occur in three types of constructions, directly related with the syntactic category of the constituent that designates the reference point for the location: (i) in the cases in which this constituent is an empty category (recoverable through anaphoric or deictic processes), the speaker uses the simple expressions antes and depois, classified by traditional grammar as adverbs of time (see, for example, antes in (4)); (ii) when the reference point is lexically expressed by a NP (nominal phrase) or yet by an infinitive or participial clause, the expressions antes de and depois de, traditionally classified as prepositional locutions, will be used (for example, see (3), antes da visita, and (4), depois da meia-noite); (iii) when the reference point is specified by means of a finite clause, the expressions antes que and depois que, traditionally named conjunctional locutions, occur instead (cf. (6)). In our corpus, occurrences belonging to this last configuration type are scarce On the spatial and temporal axes, antes holds/has with depois a converse relationship of precedence / sequence. This means that, when a and b are entities or situations that are spatially or temporally ordered through the occurrence of one of these items, we may assert that antes (a,b) is equivalent to depois (b,a). A brief comparison of the temporal and spatial values associated with antes and depois, shows a clear semantic and functional proximity: these two items are both localising operators in an axis of succession. That is, they locate situations and/or entities, by marking order relations between them. As has already been mentioned, spatial location promoted by these items presupposes the existence of two poles, an initial one and a final one, between which there is potential movement. As regards 2. In the corpus, non-deictic occurrences are in much greater number. In fact, we were only able to detect 10 occurrences of antes and 18 of depois with an unequivocal deictic value. 4

5 Ana Cristina M. LOPES & M.ª da Felicidade A. MORAIS temporal location, the situations described are also located upon a directional axis, this time defined by the unalterable flow of chronological time. Thus, it would seem legitimate to assert that the temporal uses of antes and depois also involve the notion of movement. We may conclude from this data that the semantic functioning of these items manifests a partial isomorphism between models for the conceptualisation of space and time Still on the subject of representation of the external world, antes and depois are also used to mark the order of entities in other types of axis, such as in the following examples: (7) Nesse campeonato, o Sporting ficou antes do Benfica. [In this championship, Sporting finished in front of Benfica.] (8) ele é Sousa, quer dizer, é António Luís Linhares e depois o último nome é que é Sousa [CRPC: C F-J-4-7-0] [ he is Sousa, that s to say, he is António Luís Linhares and then it s his last name his last name that is Sousa ] In utterances of this type, antes and depois are used to mark the relative position of entities belonging to a fixed-order series i.e., groups in which the initial and final poles, and any number of intermediate points, are rigidly organised. In example (7), the series is ordered according to scores obtained in sport; while in (8), it corresponds to the sequence that forms the name of an individual. In these uses of antes and depois, like the spatial and temporal values described above, there is also serial ordering. In series like example (7), where the order reflects classifications (in sports or tests, for example), the initial and final poles correspond to the highest and lowest scores, respectively. In the corpus analysed here, the occurrences of antes and depois to mark serial ordering are very rare. 5

6 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva 2. Values in the domain of interpersonal meaning 2.1. In our corpus, antes and depois are also used to mark the interior ordering of evaluative scales. For example: (9) Eu hoje dizia que antes queria três, três filhos do que um fi (...), dois filhos e uma rapariga [CRPC: O1700] [ Today, I would say that I would rather have three, three children than just one...two boys and a girl ] (10) Primeiro vem a profissão, o emprego, o futuro. Depois tem que vir o resto. [CRPC: O1726] [ First comes work, your job, the future. Then (depois) comes the rest. ] In these utterances, the semantic relationship is by nature comparative and involves an evaluative scale. In (9), antes occurs in a non-canonical comparative structure antes p que q, translatable as p is worth more than q, which permits the definition of an evaluative space. In (10), as in (9), the interpretation presupposes an implicit comparison between the two situations, and the attribution to each of distinct values, ordered on a scale. The situation prefaced by antes is subjectively assessed by the speaker as better or preferable in relation to another 3. Depois, on the other hand, introduces a situation that is presented as less relevant or not preferred. In these contexts, antes and depois assume an eminently evaluative meaning, with their values continuing to be semantic converses. The assessment scales are configured by a subjective evaluative attitude. If we take into account the values expressed by antes and depois, we may conclude that the terms in this type of scale are ordered from the most positive or preferential to the least. This means that the use of antes and depois in evaluative scales also involves a potential movement between an initial pole (corresponding to the most positive situation) and a final pole (the least positive). Thus, we can see that the plane of axiological evaluative ordering has been derived from the plane of ordering on spatial and temporal axes. 3. The historical development of adverbs of preference from adverbs of time occurs in many languages. See Traugott & König 1991:

7 Ana Cristina M. LOPES & M.ª da Felicidade A. MORAIS In other words, the values of antes and depois seem to reveal a metaphoric projection of the physical domain of space/time onto the subjective domain of evaluation. In the uses involving the evaluative dimension, antes and depois operate on the interpersonal level of signification, since they reflect the attitude of the speaker and encode it in discourse. In statistical terms, our corpus revealed that 5.4% of occurrences of antes and 0.4% of depois were of the evaluative type In 1.35% of occurrences in the corpus, antes was preceded by the conjunction ou, which introduces the result of the speaker s evaluation of his own discourse. For example, (11) toda a gente toma calmantes! eu devo dizer que não tomo! ou antes, tomo raríssimas vezes [CRPC: 1082P259] [ everyone takes tranquillizers! I have to say that I don t! Or at least, I take them very very rarely ] In this utterance, the value of the expression ou antes operates on the illocutionary level. The speaker reformulates his initial illocutionary act and corrects it 4, thus expressing his preference for the final formulation. If we confront the evaluative value of antes described above with this value of rectifying reformulation, it becomes clear that there is an obvious semantic connection. In both cases, antes expresses a preference (for a situation or a linguistic formulation, respectively). Thus, we may conclude that the preferential ordering of situations (in which meaning is based upon the internal/evaluative situation) becomes a preferential ordering of formulations (where meaning is based upon a textual and metalinguistic situation) The occurrence of antes in the expression antes pelo contrário, which introduces a discursive segment that refutes a previous assertion, 4. The semantic value of the conjunction ou should not be underestimated: it has an exclusive disjunction value that permits the speaker to exclude the first formulation, replacing it by the alternative one, evaluated as preferable owing to the presence of the operator antes. 7

8 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva also has a predominantly interpersonal and illocutionary value. This value appears in around 4% of occurrences, as in the following example: (12) Acabámos por optar pela sociedade anónima, mas não se constituiu ainda e isso, quer dizer, não constitui nenhuma alteração na linha do jornal. Antes pelo contrário nós pensamos que é uma forma de mantê-la [CRPC: U M-A-2-6-C] [ We ended up choosing a joint stock company, but it hasn t been set up yet and so, I mean, it doesn t require any alteration in the newspaper line. On the contrary we think that it s a way to keep it ] In this utterance, antes reinforces the value of the discourse marker pelo contrário 5, with which the speaker signals that he/she will make a proposition that contrasts with or contradicts a previous one. There are strong constraints operating upon the occurrence of antes pelo contrário: it may only appear after a polemic negation 6, i.e. after a negative assertion that already functions as a refutation of a previous assertion, either expressed or virtual. In refuting a previous assertion, the speaker offers a new one, implicitly rejecting the truth value of the first. If we compare this refutatory value of antes with the rectificatory value described above, we can see a certain similarity: in both cases, the speaker distances him/herself from a proposition expressed in previous discourse, validating the proposition prefaced by the expression in which antes occurs In around 4.1% of occurrences of depois, the word contains another value in the domain of interpersonal meaning. For example: (13) Hoje não vou ao cinema. Não me apetece sair de casa; depois nem sequer gosto muito desse realizador. [Today I m not going to the cinema. I don t feel like going out of the house; anyway, I don t even like that director very much.] 5. Following Fraser (1999), discursive markers are defined as expressions that with certain exceptions, [they] signal a relationship between the interpretation of the segment they introduce, S2, and the prior segment, S1. They have a core meaning, which is procedural, not conceptual, and their more specific interpretation is negotiated by the context, both linguistic and conceptual (1999: 931). 6. We are using Ducrot s notion of polemic negation, equivalent to Horn s metalinguistic negation (Ducrot 1973 e Horn 1985). Unlike descriptive negation, which negates a propositional content (Assertion (~ p)), a polemic negation operates on the illocutionary level (N (p)). 8

9 Ana Cristina M. LOPES & M.ª da Felicidade A. MORAIS In (13), depois connects two co-directional arguments, by prefacing the one that is presented in second place. The argument given first is the one with the strongest argumentative strength, while the one introduced by depois has a merely corroborative function of reinforcement. This argumentative depois appears to be semantically quite close to the evaluative type: it represents an internal evaluative attitude comparing two (or more) arguments; and the expression prefaced by depois is considered less important or less relevant on a scale of argumentative (or rhetorical) strenght. 3. Values in the domain of textual meaning 3.1. In the corpus, antes and depois are also used to mark discourse structure (in around 3.6% and 2.3% of occurrences, respectively). For example: (14) antes de mais nada quero dizer que, he obviamente, hmm, não se trata de uma posição pessoal [CRPC: OP14C3F0029XPP03A990PXXXXX] [ first of all (antes de mais nada) I want to say that, um, this is obviously not a personal position ] (15) Realmente faltam três coisas à Europa, falta primeiro, uma vontade política, para ter uma política externa comum, faltam depois instituições capazes de suportar essa vontade política, e falta em terceiro lugar capacidade militar [CRPC: OP23F4C0092 XOO20F991PXXXXX] [ There are three things that are really missing in Europe; firstly political will, to have a common foreign policy, then institutions able to support this political will, and thirdly, military capability ] In these utterances, the speaker structures or orders his discourse by signalling the existence of sequentially arranged parts, formulated in a particular order. The discourse markers antes and depois operate on the level of the planning or structuring of these textual sequences. This function is particularly evident in utterance (15), in which the value of depois is co-directional with the expressions primeiro ( firstly ) and em terceiro lugar ( thirdly ). In marking textual precedence, antes appears in 9

10 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva more complex expressions, such as antes de mais nada (in (14)), antes de mais, antes de tudo and antes de tudo o mais. The speaker undertakes an act of textual planning by transposing values of anteriority and posteriority relative to a reference point situated in the outside world, to values of anteriority and posteriority that are exclusively discursive. That is to say, there has been a metaphoric projection of temporal ordering (of the socio-physical world) to an ordering of the discursive segments that make up textual linearity 7. In addition to the function of textual ordering, antes and depois, when they appear in utterances like (14) and (15), seem to signal an scaling in terms of more (antes) or less (depois) informational relevance. In this aspect, there is a certain similarity with values of evaluative ordering In around 26% of occurrences, depois seems to function as a mere additive connector, as in the following example: (16) temos aulas práticas nos bombeiros, naquele prédio dos bombeiros no segundo andar para aí, esse é o, as aulas práticas temos todas aí, depois as teóricas temos no palácio [CRPC: A F-J ] [ we have practical lessons in the fire brigade, in that fire station on the second floor, that is, the practical lessons we have them all there, then the theory part we have in the palace ] In this utterance, the order between the two segments connected by depois is merely textual. In contexts such as (16), depois functions as a sequencer, connecting terms of a list (presented as simple or complex expressions of textual sequences). In most lists involving more than two terms, (e) depois ( (and) then ) is frequently found for the copulative connection of those terms. The use of the discourse marker depois implies the presence of prior textual sequences, in relation to which the subsequent position is defined. 7. The discursive functioning of antes and depois confirms the analysis proposed by Batoréo (1997), according to which European Portuguese conceptualises the text as production, as a dynamic act that displaces in the direction of the future, and not as a product. 10

11 Ana Cristina M. LOPES & M.ª da Felicidade A. MORAIS In utterances of this type, the function of depois is to mark a relation of posteriority between textual units on the same axis; the direction of this axis is defined by discursive linearity. Comparing this with what we observed in 3.1, the function of scaling in terms of information relevance completely disappears. Indeed, if we alter the order of occurrence of the segments connected by depois, as in the following adaptation of (16) (16 ) Temos as aulas teóricas no palácio, depois temos as práticas nos bombeiros. [We have theoretical lessons in the palace, then we have practicals in the fire station.] there are no relevant pragmatic differences as regards information transmitted. The order of occurrence of segments appears arbitrary, which leads us to conclude that the function of depois is only to mark the adjunct of a new textual sequence. Finally, we would like to add that, in some of the contexts analysed, depois appears only to signal that the speaker intends to maintain his conversational turn. In some occurrences, this phatic use of depois is typically accompanied by pauses, repetitions of the item, and other hesitation devices. In this type of use, it would seem that the function of depois is to maintain discourse continuity. In those cases too, depois introduces a sequence that, in discursive linearity, occupies a position of posteriority relative to the other(s). 4. Final considerations From this analysis of the synchronic functioning of antes and depois, we may conclude that these items operate in different domains of meaning. The values of spatial and temporal location belong to the referential domain ( content domain, in Sweetser s terminology, 1990), which has traditionally been privileged by semantics. In this domain, antes and depois mark a temporal ordering on an axis, from a reference point. The temporal value, which is clearly dominant in the corpus, seems to configure the prototypical meaning of these two items. 11

12 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva The values of ordering on an evaluative scale seem to result from a metaphoric derivation from this primitive nuclear value. Thus, it is like a projection into the domain of subjective evaluation of the order relation, in a process involving subjectivization of meaning. This derivation seems to prove a key notion of Cognitive Linguistics, namely that the more abstract or subjective areas of human experience are metaphorically structured on the basis of the formatting/modeling of more concrete and objective domains. On the interpersonal level ( illocutionary domain, Sweetser 1990), the uses of antes and depois that signal illocutionary functions need to be given special attention, since these contribute to the pragmatic-functional coherence of the text. We are referring particularly to the reformulational/rectificatory value of the expression ou antes and to the argumentative value of depois. In both cases, the ordering on an evaluative scale is transposed and exploited on the domain of discursive acts. In rectifying what has been said (using the discourse marker ou antes), the speaker indicates preference for an alternative formulation; in introducing a second co-directional argument (with depois), s/he marks it as argumentatively less relevant, evaluating it implicitly as nonpreferential. Finally, antes and depois also function as markers of textual/discourse structure. The expression of a relation of temporal order (anteriority or posteriority) relative to a reference point in the outside world (a value which we consider constitutes the prototypical meaning of these items) is now transposed to the exclusively textual or discursive domain. The process of grammaticalization that recategorises adverbs as discourse markers is accompanied by pragmatic functions/specifications that appear to correspond to a progressive extension of the prototypical matrix. On the interpersonal and textual levels, the values transmitted by antes, ou antes, antes pelo contrário and depois seem to have a procedural dimension: the discourse markers function as guides to interpretation, signalling a particular kind of discourse relationship. The analysis of the data seems to legitimise a theoretical framework that takes into account various levels/domains of meaning. The different uses of the items analysed is a strong empirical argument in favour of a gradient and integrated model of synchronic meaning. 12

13 Ana Cristina M. LOPES & M.ª da Felicidade A. MORAIS The results of the analysis carried out here, to be corroborated later with a diachronic study, seem to validate the hypothesis of unidirectional semantic change defined by Traugott and König (1991), particularly tendencies I and II, formulated in the following terms: Semantic-pragmatic tendency I: meanings based upon the external situation described > meanings based upon an internal situation (evaluative / perceptional / cognitive); Semantic-pragmatic tendency II: meanings based upon the external or internal situation described > meanings based upon the textual and metalinguistic situation. Bibliography BATORÉO, H. J. (1997), «Factores linguísticos, cognitivos e culturais na definição do modelo espacio-temporal do texto», Actas do XII Encontro da APL, Lisboa, Colibri, pp DUCROT, O. (1973), La preuve et le dire, Paris, Mame. FISCHER, K. (2000), From Cognitive Semantics to Lexical Pragmatics, Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter. FRASER, B. (1999), «What are discourse markers?», Journal of Pragmatics, 31 (7), pp HALLIDAY, M. A. K. (1985), An Introduction to Functional Grammar, London, Edward Arnold. HANSEN, M.-B. M. (1998), The Function of Discourse Particles. A Study with Special Reference to Spoken Standard French. Amsterdam, John Benjamins. HORN, L. (1985), «Metalinguistic negation and pragmatic ambiguity», Language, 61, pp LOPES, A. C. M. e M. F. A. MORAIS ( ), «Antes e depois: elementos para uma análise semântica e pragmática», Revista Portuguesa de Filologia, vol. XXIII, pp REDEKER, G. (1990), «Ideational and Pragmatic Markers of Discourse Structure», Journal of Pragmatics, 14, pp SWEETSER, E. E. (1990), From etymology to pragmatics: Metaphorical and cultural aspects of semantic structure, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 13

14 III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Cognitiva TRAUGOTT, E. & E. KÖNIG (1991) - «The Semantics-Pragmatics of Grammaticalization Revisited», E. Traugott & B. Heine (eds.), Approaches to Grammaticalization, vol. I, Amsterdam, John Benjamins, pp VANDELOISE, C. (1986), L espace en français. Sémantique des prépositions spatiales, Paris, Seuil. 14

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