The project proposes to investigate the emergence of the topicalization construction in European Portuguese, in which the topic is resumed by a null category. In order to do so, it will involve the conduction of a corpus-based quantitative research on plays of Portuguese writers born in the fifteenth century until the twentieth century, which will include the counting of various types of informationally marked expressions and the counting of discursive topics, with the help of the methodology proposed by T. Givón. Moreover, we will adopt I. Roberts's theory of syntactic change, which conforms to the Principles and Parameters Theory, accrued by studies on the syntax - information structure interface. The main scientific challenge which to be addressed consists in the attainment of a proposal for the relationship between pragmatic values and syntactic expressions, which makes possible to explain the change in the use of different types of informationally marked expressions in the history of European Portuguese. The main contribution to be offered by this research concerns the understanding of this singular feature of the Portuguese language when compared to other Romance languages, devoid of that construction, including a possible understanding for its existence in Brazilian Portuguese. Apart from that, it opens the opportunity to assess the existing proposals for the derivation of this construction on the basis of diachronic clues.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: