On focus movement in European Portuguese

João Costa, Ana Maria Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper characterizes Contrastive Focus Fronting (CFF) in European Portuguese, distinguishing it from Topicalization and Evaluative exclamatives on the basis of syntactic and interpretational tests illustrated with empirical evidence from intuition/introspective judgments and different types of written sources. It reveals that the lack of consensus among speakers regarding CFF is a consequence of the fact that Contemporary European Portuguese includes two grammars with CFF. One grammar is less restrictive regarding the array of constituents that can be fronted. The other grammar only allows fronting of deictics or constituents containing them. In this more restrictive variant, CFF structures are comparable to other grammatical structures of European Portuguese, which have in common the fact that word order alternations may be limited to deictic elements. Finally, this study identifies the relevant semantic features to tease apart CFF, Topicalization and Evaluative exclamatives. CFF involves fronting of constituents with the features D-linked/deictic and evaluative. Topicalization structures and Evaluative exclamatives do not associate the two types of features: topicalized constituents are D-linked; the fronted constituent in Evaluative exclamatives bears the feature evaluative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-245
Number of pages29
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


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