Bare nouns and changes in the D system: insights from Old Portuguese

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Bare nouns have been an ongoing topic of research ever since Abney’s (1987) DP hypothesis. The existence of a DP projection has been consensually adopted in the
literature, as well as the idea that “DPs can be arguments, NPs cannot”, following Longobardi (2001:581).
In Contemporary European Portuguese (CEP), bare singulars are generally ruled out from argument positions and bare plurals are only accepted under special circumstances. However, data from Old Portuguese suggest that bare singulars were more freely allowed. Examples (1) and (2) illustrate a contrast between Old and Contemporary Portuguese.

In this presentation, Clara Pinto compares the frequency of bare nouns in syntactically annotated texts from 13th to the 18th century, extracted from diachronic corpora. The results point to a progressive decrease of singular bare nouns as arguments, suggesting a possible change from a system that allowed null Ds to one that demands this position to be lexically filled, as is the case of CEP.

Period5 Oct 2022
Event titleCongreso Internacional de Corpus Diacrónicos en Lenguas Iberorrománicas
Event typeConference
Conference numbervi
LocationVenice, ItalyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Old Portuguese
  • Bare nouns