The distribution of specific and definite bare nominals in Brazilian Portuguese

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This paper presents and discusses evidence from two corpus studies on Brazilian Portuguese (BrP) bare nominals (BNs) in the light of the overwhelmingly formal syntactic and semantic literature on this topic. It is shown that these approaches have failed to identify a subclass of BrP BNs, namely specific and definite uses. The need for different data types is pointed out and it is argued that only an approach combining different methods can succeed. In order to account for the specific and definite uses within a formal framework, it will be claimed contra Müller (2002) that BrP BNs should not be treated as “external” topics in general. Building on the work of Pires de Oliveira and Rothstein (2011, this volume) it will be suggested that an interaction between semantics and information structure could account for the specific and definite cases.


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