Dative Microvariation in African Varieties of Portuguese


In this paper we compare dative ditransitive structures in nativized and nativizing urban varieties of Portuguese spoken in Angola, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe, using a corpus-based approach. It is shown that the expression of the Recipient exhibits considerable variation within and across these varieties, as well as at intraspeaker level. Despite the use of non-canonical patterns, namely prepositional structures with em and para and double object constructions, the canonical European Portuguese pattern with Case marker a is predominant in our data. Moreover, the pronominalized counterparts of these different realizations show much less variation and strong convergence toward dative clitic lhe(s). To account for the data, we propose a Larsonian VP-shell in which Recipients as extended DPs occur internally to a K(ase) projection whose functional head can be spelled out as a, em or para. Recipients in double object constructions, on the other hand, are treated as plain DPs which may pronominalize as dative clitics or, less commonly, as strong pronouns. Overall, our hypothesis weakens the role of language contact, which has often been assumed as a critical factor in the literature, but still allows for (individual) grammars that show evidence of being substrate-induced.


dative structures; African Varieties of Portuguese; microvariation; language change; language contact

How to Cite

Gonçalves, R., Duarte, I., & Hagemeijer, T. (2022). Dative Microvariation in African Varieties of Portuguese. Journal of Portuguese Linguistics, 21:6, pp. 1–39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/jpl.8488






Rita Gonçalves (University of Lisbon)
Inês Duarte (University of Lisbon)
Tjerk Hagemeijer (University of Lisbon)



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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