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Bookmark and Share Paper 2942

The Origin of the Portuguese Inflected Infinitive through a Corpus Analysis
Michael J. Harris
303-311 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study examines the origin of the Portuguese inflected infinitive (PII) by investigating approximately 200,000 Old Portuguese (15th-16th century) words from the Tycho Brahe Parsed Corpus of Historical Portuguese (Galves & Faria 2010). The PII is an infinitive with number and person agreement features. Some linguists propose the PII developed from the Portuguese uninflected infinitive or the Portuguese future subjunctive. On the other hand, it has been maintained that due to the high percentage of PIIs following prepositions and especially following purpose constructions in Old Portuguese, it is likely that the PII developed from the Latin imperfect subjunctive (cf. Wireback 1994). This paper addresses these claims by investigating a corpus of Old Portuguese. The main results are: 1) in corpus data the PII largely occurs in prepositional contexts, 2) specifically in purpose clauses, and 3) often appears without an explicit lexical subject. Therefore, the data indicate that it is more likely that the PII developed from the Latin imperfect subjunctive. However, shared contexts between the PII and the Portuguese Future Subjunctive in Old Portuguese are also identified, which lends validity to the theory that the PII arose from analogy with the Portuguese future subjunctive. This work is unique in its use of corpus data and statistical methodology in the evaluation and interpretation of historical data containing the PII.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Gillian Lord, Ana de Prada Pérez, and Jessi Elana Aaron
Table of contents
Printed edition: $310.00