Research Paper

Syntax and Morphology in the Placement of Clitics in European and Brazilian Portuguese


This paper argues that the variation in the placement of clitic pronouns in European and Brazilian Portuguese follows from the interaction of two properties in regard of which these two languages differ. One is syntactic: EP clitics are Infl-clitics and BP clitics are V-clitics. The other is morpho-phonological: EP clitics, but not BP clitics, are required to be in a non-initial position with respect to some boundary. Our analysis is illustrated by the comparison between the original version of Paulo Coelho’s novel O Alquimista, and the European adaptation of the text published in Portugal. We claim that our analysis is preferable to others for both empirical and theoretical reasons. In fact, we try to prove that it is able to explain EP clitic-placement in both tensed and infinitival clauses and to account for the variation observed in some contexts. We also bring historical data into the discussion, which we argue can be harmoniously integrated into our explanation of the synchronic facts.

How to Cite

Galves, C. & Moraes, M. & Ribeiro, I., (2005) “Syntax and Morphology in the Placement of Clitics in European and Brazilian Portuguese”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 4(2), p.143-177. doi:







Charlotte Galves (Dept. de Lingüística, Inst. de Estudos da Linguagem Univ. Estadual de Campinas, Cid. Universitária Zeferino Vaz, 13084-100 Campinas, SP, Brasil)
M. Aparecida T. Moraes (Dep. Letras Vernáculas, FFLCH, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof. L. Gualberto 403, Cidade Universitária 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brasil)
Ilza Ribeiro (Dept. de Lingüística, Universidade Federal da Bahia Av. Joana Angélica 183, São Salvador 40.000, Brasil)



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