Two kinds of differential object marking in Portuguese and Spanish

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Portuguese is typically not considered a differential object marking (DOM) language, while Spanish, with its accusative a, is one of the most well-known DOM languages. This chapter uses quantitative multivariate analysis to argue that Portuguese – both Brazilian (BP) and European (EP) – displays a clear-cut DOM system. Unlike Spanish, however, the Portuguese DOM system is limited to strictly anaphoric direct object referents. Both BP and EP oppose null objects with overt pronominal marking of anaphoric DOs, even though the pronouns employed differ in each variety. In both Spanish and Portuguese, animacy, definiteness and specificity constrain the encoding of direct object referents in similar ways; most notably, the hierarchical ordering of these constraints is the same across the two languages.


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