Non-Topicalized Preverbal Subjects in Brazilian Portuguese, Compared to Italian
This paper investigates the syntax of non-topicalized preverbal subjects in Brazilian Portuguese (BP). In BP, both locative PPs and locative DPs can occur in preverbal position: Na escola do Pedro aceita cartão de crédito; A escola do Pedro aceita cartão de crédito. In the latter case, the verb agrees with the locative. In BP, it is also possible to find non-argument constituents triggering verbal agreement, as in Essa estante cabe muitos livros. These sentences have been analysed as innovative constructions restricted to BP. This paper shows that some of the above structures are also present in other languages, e.g. Italian; not all of them are therefore innovative constructions of BP, and subcases need to be differentiated. The hypothesis is that sentences with preverbal non-argumental subjects have the same syntax as sentences with argumental subjects. What seems to occur in some cases is a modification in the verb thematic grid. We interpret BP’s “flexible diathesis” patterns as revealing that in this grammar, a variety of verbs have undergone a modification of their thematic grid which their counterparts in European Portuguese and other Romance languages did not.
Keywords: Locative preverbal subjects • Brazilian Portuguese • Syntax • Agreement