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date: 28 November 2022

Peculiarities of Portuguese Word-Formationlocked

Peculiarities of Portuguese Word-Formationlocked

  • Graça Rio-TortoGraça Rio-TortoUniversidade de Coimbra - Departamento de Línguas, Literaturas e Culturas

Summary

Portuguese shares major word-formation mechanisms—affixation, composition, conversion, blending, clipping—with Romance languages, but also displays some peculiarities related to different Latin, Celtiberian, Germanic, and Mozarabic lexical heritages and to the internal dynamics of the language from the 12th to the 21st century. Portuguese has preserved the core of the medieval word-formation framework, but new patterns were of course introduced from time to time, especially during the 20th century. Portuguese word-formation peculiarities are partly conservative, partly innovative; some comply with international trends of word-formation, others depart from them. The proliferation of Neo-Latin compounding and the increase of blending, as well as the introduction of phenomena such as clipping, reanalysis, and grammaticalization illustrate the convergence of modern Portuguese with international word-formation tendencies. In Portuguese, as in other languages, learned suffixes tend to be less productive than the corresponding nonlearned ones coexisting with them. However, in specific cases such as gentilic adjectives/nouns, a learned suffix like -ense could also win over its nonlearned rival (in this case, Pt. -ês/-esa), while in Italian the nonlearned suffix -ese prevails.

Apart from peculiar phonological outcomes of some Latin suffixes and the greater weight of interfixation due to phonological and prosodic conditions, the major distinctive traits of Portuguese word-formation include: (a) the unique distribution of the major evaluative suffixes, grounded in subjective/attitudinal values; (b) the subjective meanings associated with several suffixes that are not found in the corresponding suffixes of other Romance languages; (c) the specific set of suffixal resources for forming agentive and instrumental deverbal nouns; and (d) the expansion of the categorial bases selected by some suffixes.

Subjects

  • Language Families/Areas/Contact
  • Morphology

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