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Impersonal se constructions in the Portuguese of East Timor

Notes on the relation between language contact and second language acquisition

From the book Convergence and divergence in Ibero-Romance across contact situations and beyond

  • Susana Afonso


This chapter presents a preliminary discussion on impersonal se constructions produced by East Timorese speakers of Portuguese L2 taking into consideration the interplay between contact and general tendencies of second language acquisition. Data collection comprised the recording of a semi-guided interview with 21 informants living in Portugal and East Timor. Impersonal se constructions were extracted from this corpus. Innovations in the impersonal construction are observed, namely, deletion of the clitic and the rise of the double subject construction in which the actor is encoded both by an overt nominal subject and by the clitic se. The deletion of the clitic corresponds to a simplification of a morphological pattern which matches the morphological make-up of East Timorese languages. The double subject construction, however, corresponds to the emergence of a more complex pattern. Considering that both types of innovations are observed in other vernacular varieties of Portuguese that emerged in very different contact scenarios, this chapter discusses the relation between contact- induced changes and general processes of second language acquisition.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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