Portuguese history and historiography

Research Projects:


General editor of the collective work History of Brazilian Portuguese

Description: The collective work History of Brazilian Portuguese started in 2011 and is being written by researchers affiliated to the Project for the History of Brazilian Portuguese, having as an objective to consolidate the results of this project in 5 volumes, many of them with more than one volume. Each volume has two editors. We aim at publishing the work in 2016.

Professor in charge: Ataliba Teixeira de Castilho (ataliba@uol.com.br)


The Portuguese language, from 1400 to 1600: aspects of history and grammar

Description: This project is dedicated to the description of the written Portuguese grammar in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, and to research of the historic process of expansion and diversification of the range of the language that marks this period. The project starts from the general idea of this historical process of spreading the Portuguese language in four continents is at the root of the grammatical changes reflected in the current variants of the language. Its main objective is to gather theoretical and methodological elements to develop a conceptually based version of this idea. Preliminary studies suggest a work hypothesis in this sense, according to which the modern variants of Portuguese, in particular the European and Brazilian variants, feature different strategies of syntactic encoding of argumentative relations, and this difference can be explained by two distinct processes of grammatical review, both having as starting point the Portuguese grammar of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. Considering the Brazilian Portuguese, the project intends to show that review may be well understood in the context of radical transformation of social conditions imposed to the transmission of the Portuguese language in the process of occupation of the Brazilian territory throughout the first colonial period. In the case of European Portuguese, the review can be understood as a result of the intensification of a phonological change already happening in some dialect perspectives in that territory. The grammatical restructuring that involves the formation of the Brazilian variant does not reach the European context; and phonological changes happening in European dialects is stopped on the process of language transportation to Brazil, thus, each of the modern variants will develop from this moment in different ways.

Professor in charge: Maria Clara Paixão de Sousa (mariaclara@usp.br)


History of the formal Portuguese language in São Paulo: first decades from the 20th to the 21st century

Description: Study and description of linguistic usages with innovative or archaic traits in written documents and extracts of spoken language from the 20th to the 21st century. Study on the grammaticalisation and sociocognitive procedures that justify the routes taken by grammatical changes in the Portuguese of São Paulo. Contrastive study between formal Portuguese and other varieties or languages present in the São Paulo area. Project funded by Fapesp.

Professor in charge: Maria Célia Pereira Lima-Hernandes (mceliah@usp.br)


Language of the Republican imagery and the linguistic chess of social distinction

Description: This project aims to recover primary documents of schools in the period of the first Republic and analyse them from the point of view of languages and discourse. Inserted in the context of the social history of the Portuguese language, the project maps the socio-historical data of the period and put them in dialogue with linguistic issues.

Professor in charge: Marilza de Oliveira (marilza@usp.br)


Portuguese historical morphology – history of Portuguese suffixes

Description: The research group aims to: a) describe mechanisms of formation of words in the Portuguese language from the diachronic point of view, their productivity, and their correlation with meaning; b) associate the productivity of the Portuguese language throughout history, considering that this language is part of Romance languages (analysis of the influence of vulgar Latin, medieval Latin, scientific Latin); c) more accurately date phenomena and meanings of derived words, based on well-organised corpora; d) discuss the role of foreignness (mainly French and English) in the creation of models of derived words by suffixation within the Portuguese; e) understand the differences of suffix productivity in all Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as problems in this aspect of teaching Portuguese for foreigners; f) release bases for study on other mechanisms of word formation such as prefix, composition, and regressive derivation.

Professor in charge: Mário Eduardo Viaro (maeviaro@usp.br)


Use and standard in Brazilian grammars of the Portuguese language

Description: The primary objective of the research is to analyse the presence and functionality of use in grammars, to show, on one hand, how they constitute important instrument of register of a language state and, on the other, to show how each grammarian manages the use and constructs the linguistic standard, mandatory to users of sociolinguistic stratum to which they are directed to. In addition, the aim is also to investigate how the consideration of use, combined with theoretical and methodological changes, promote not only the change from the standard and the selection of examples, but also influences the change in the grammar model.

Professor in charge: Marli Quadros Leite (mqleite@usp.br)


Synchronic and diachronic comparative studies on the Portuguese language in relation to Romance languages

Description: This project intends to study the Portuguese language compared with Romance languages under synchronic and diachronic perspectives, considering geographical, chronological, historical, social, and stylistic variants. This research aims to provide a comprehensive contrastive description of the grammatical traits most relevant between the Portuguese, European and Brazilian varieties, and the Romance languages, as well as study the historical and/or linguistic facts that enable to determine peculiarities found only in the Portuguese language.

Professor in charge: Valeria Gil Condé (vgconde@hotmail.com)


Brazilian eves: an agenda for the syntactic studies on Brazilian Portuguese in the early centuries

Description: This project, linked to the Thematic Project ‘History of the Portuguese language in São Paulo,’ was aimed at presenting an agenda for the syntactic studies of the early centuries of the Portuguese language in São Paulo (16th and 17th centuries). At the same time, we will present a study of the same syntactic phenomena in Portuguese texts of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. The agenda consists of the analysis of argumental structure and verbal valency, prepositions, verbal and nominal agreement, and joint strategies.

Professor in charge: Verena Kewitz (kewitz@usp.br)


Portuguese Language Etymology

Description: The research group linked to NEHiLP understands that, unlike what happens with most European languages (English, French, Spanish, and Italian), the dictionaries of the Portuguese language are quite flawed regarding their etymological data. Sufixal and prefixal derivation are mistaken with etymology, the etymon of the word is mistaken with its remote origin, there is not enough care with etyma of agraph languages and we know very little of Arab influence, not to mention the abundance of fanciful etyma that de-characterise etymological study as a scientific project. The media and the Internet contribute to the dissemination of unrealistic solutions, without academic studies in the field of Historical Linguistics and Philology exposing their conclusions on the subject. As happened with Stylistics, etymological research of scientific quality were very productive until the 1920s, when they were at their peak, however, historical and ideological events promoted the oblivion of many techniques and results. Grounded in linguistic research, etymological studies came back mainly from the 1990s and today there are important tools for developing quality research at academic level, which may contribute to the change of the vision of society on the subject. Thus, this research on dating of the first occurrences of Portuguese words, presented by NEHiLP, is the first step towards the creation of a new etymological dictionary of the Portuguese language.

Professor in charge: Mário Eduardo Viaro (maeviaro@usp.br)