Referring to humans in spoken Spanish and Portuguese: Individualizing and collective strategies

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: Engelska parken 7-0016
  • Lecturer: Pekka Posio
  • Organiser: Romanska seminariet
  • Contact person: Hans Kronning
  • Seminarium


Pekka Posio, docent och universitetslektor i spanska vid Stockholms universitet: Referring to humans in spoken Spanish and Portuguese: Individualizing and collective strategies

Spanish and Portuguese are closely related languages that both display a wide range of human impersonal constructions, i.e. grammaticalized or grammaticalizing constructions that have among their main functions the impersonalization or backgrounding of a human participant. My talk focuses on the impersonal uses of the second person singular, contrasting it with other referential devices such as the pronoun uno ‘one’ in Spanish, the first person plural in both languages, and the European Portuguese noun-based impersonalization strategies with the NPs a gente and as pessoas ‘the people’ and uma/a pessoa ‘a/the person’. The data come from two comparable sociolinguistic interview corpora collected in the towns of Salamanca, Spain and Porto, Portugal. Contrastive analysis of the data shows that impersonal second person singulars are used more frequently and productively in Spanish than in Portuguese. While in the Spanish data the impersonal use of the second person singular correlates with age and gender of the informants, in the Portuguese corpus there are no clear sociolinguistic tendencies. In general, the Portuguese informants use more personal and collective forms than the Spanish informants. In European Portuguese, the NP a/uma pessoa also presents signs of incipient grammaticalization into an impersonal pronoun used in similar contexts as the second person singular. I discuss the differences between the Spanish and Portuguese data from the point of view of intersubjectivity and politeness.

Språk: engelska. Frågor kan också ställas på svenska, franska och spanska.