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The various interpretations of diminutives in BrP: a formal semantic analysis

Grant number: 13/09047-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2013
Effective date (End): May 31, 2014
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Linguistics - Linguistic Theory and Analysis
Principal researcher:Renato Miguel Basso
Grantee:Manolo Abe Funcia
Home Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The diminutive, usually classified as an indicator of diminutive size, can have other uses beyond making reference to an object (animate or inanimate) with reduced physical size proportions in comparison to another one. If on one hand, we have 'portinha' as a small door, on the other, 'amarelinha' is not an 'amarelo pequeno', but a word of its own, with an autonomous meaning unrelated to degree or size reduction. We can also make use of the diminutive to convey intensity, as in "Este tranquilizante vai te deixar calminho", where 'calminho' is, in some sense to be made explicit in this project, "more than calm". The diminutive can also indicate affectivity, be it positive / appreciative, as in "Meu filhinho está acima do peso, está com 120 kg", or negative attitudes / pejorative, as in "Aquela mulherzinha veio reclamar do som da festa de novo". This latter use is closely linked to the speaker that employs the diminutive, because it shows, according to the hypothesis that we'll investigate, the subjectivity of the person who uses it. Therefore, the uses of the diminutive as intensifier (in 'calminho') and expressive (affective, 'filhinho' and pejorative, 'mulherzinha') can be analyzed as conventional implicatures as defined by Potts (2005). In summary, our goal in this research is to diminutive in Brazilian Portuguese with the tools of formal semantic, along the lines developed by Potts (2005, 2007) for English and by Fortin (2011) for Spanish. We will argue that the "expressive meaning" is in a specific dimension of meaning, different from that one which brings only the propositional meaning (cf. Potts, 2005). (AU)

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