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Phonological Variation and Change in Brazilian Portuguese  

Elisa Battisti

Brazilian Portuguese is the native language of more than 200 million people living in Brazil. Spoken in South America since around the year 1500, Brazilian Portuguese has peculiar phonological traits, many of them variable. The extensive language contact that has taken place in Brazil caused Brazilian Portuguese to break up into regional dialects. Various phonological processes affect Brazilian Portuguese at the segmental and suprasegmental levels. Some of the processes target consonants, such as the regressive palatalization of /t, d/, the fricatization of /r/ in syllabic onset; some processes target vowels, such as the raising and lowering of unstressed /e, o/ vowels; others target the intonation of utterances, such as the rising of the nuclear stress of yes–no questions. The results of several empirical studies on varieties of Brazilian Portuguese show that not all of the processes correspond to change in progress in Brazilian Portuguese; some of them are stable variables. They also show that not every variable is present in all dialects and that some variables are socially salient and stigmatized. Compared to present European Portuguese, the phonology of Brazilian Portuguese seems to be conservative in some aspects, such as in the raising of vowels in unstressed, word-final syllables; innovative in others, such as in the vocalization of /l/ in syllabic coda.


Contact Between Spanish and Portuguese in South America  

Ana M. Carvalho

Spanish and Portuguese are in contact along the extensive border of Brazil and its neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. Transnational interactions in some border communities allow for ephemeral language accommodations that occur when speakers of both languages communicate during social interactions and business transactions, facilitated by the lack of border control and similarities between the languages. A different situation is found in northern Uruguay, where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken in several border towns, presenting a case of stable and prolonged bilingualism that has allowed for the emergence of language contact phenomena such as lexical borrowings, code-switching, and structural convergence to a variable extent. However, due to urbanization and the presence of monolingual dialects in the surrounding communities, Portuguese and Spanish have not converged structurally in a single mixed code in urban areas and present instead clear continuities with the monolingual counterparts.


Portuguese-Lexified Creoles  

J. Clancy Clements

The Portuguese colonial enterprise has had myriad and long-lasting consequences, not the least of which involves language. The many Portuguese-lexified creole languages in Africa and Asia are the product of Portugal’s colonial past. The creoles to be discussed that developed in Africa belong to two subgroups: the Upper Guinea Creoles (Cape Verdean, Guiné Bissau Creole, Casamance Creole) and the Gulf of Guinea Creoles (Santome, Angolar, Principense, Fa d’Ambô). Among the Asian Portuguese creoles, three subgroups are distinguishable, based on shared linguistic traits: the northern Indian group (Diu, Daman, Korlai), which retains some verbal morphology from Portuguese and distinguishes the subject/object case and informal-formal forms in the pronominal systems; Sri Lanka Creole, which retains less Portuguese verbal morphology but distinguishes the subject/object case and informal-formal forms in the pronominal system; and the East Asian group (Papiá Kristang, Makista), which retains very little, if any, Portuguese verbal morphology and has no informal-formal or subject/object case distinctions in the pronominal systems. Despite these differences, all creoles share a common lexicon, to a large extent, and, to varying degrees, aspects of Portuguese culture.