1. THE SYSTEM OF CONTINENTAL PORTUGAL
The system of pronouns of address in Portuguese is known because of its complexity. Apart from the differences among dialect varieties, we lack empirical data with respect to some. Specifically, European Portuguese exhibits a system that, according to , , and, opposes a tripartite paradigm in singular to a bipartite one in plural, except in the northernmost areas of Portugal (Table 1).
|Singular||Tu + 2sg||
Você + 3sg
Null subject + 3sg
Noun phrase + 3sg
O senhor / a senhora
Noun phrase + 3sg
Vós + 2pl (north)
Vocês + 2pl / 3pl
|Vocês + 2pl / 3pl||
Os senhores / as
senhoras + 3pl
Based on Table 1, tu plus 2sg inflections are used for intimate contexts, while o senhor / a senhora plus 3sg is resorted to for formal situations, though it can also be followed by a noun phrase, such as professional status. In the middle of both, there emerge the so-called N contexts (), which are conceived as those informal or semi-formal situations, but in which a T form is extremely impolite and a formal one is too courteous. This in-between degree swings among a number of possibilities, such as the pronoun você plus 3sg as well as the strategy of using null subject plus 3sg or resorting to noun phrases plus 3sg, among which proper names and professional statuses stand out.
However, the plural is more syncretic, for it envisages os senhores / as senhoras plus 3pl for V contexts and gathers in vocês for other diaphasic situations. Only the northernmost districts in Portugal still present vós plus 2pl for T contexts. In addition, vós can also appear throughout Portugal in a number of specific reverential and stereotyped contexts: church, army and parliament. Moreover, it is necessary to make clear that vocês induces a double agreement pattern, since by depending on the syntactic elements that anchor it, it can prompt 2pl and 3pl inflections. Based on the standard, the 3pl appears in verbs and reflexives whereas the 2pl is established in objects and possessives.
The paradigm depicted in Table 1 is the standard and prestigious model in modern-day Portugal. Nevertheless, Lara Bermejo (, ) and demonstrate that, from a variationist perspective, this country envisages further alternatives for formality. Rural and isolated areas in the interior and southern districts of continental Portugal are characterised by also relying on archaic forms, such as vossemecê(s) or vomecê(s), to address somebody politely. This resource is limited to people from low educational backgrounds and, mainly, the elderly. As a matter of fact, this strategy has been in increasing disuse since the late 1900s, by favouring the employment of the standard o(s) senhor(es) and their corresponding alternatives based on gender.
There is even an ulterior feature that is worthy of mention: the inadequacy of você as a singular pronoun. According to and , the usage of você is avoided because it can be evaluated as formal (V), informal (T), neutral (N), and to some extent, offensive. Fear of committing a face-threatening act (one that is impolite or contradictory to the one expected in a given situation) on the part of the addresser leads to its elimination and to resort to the so-called null subject plus 3sg. This alternative is, in the view of , the most extended form of addressing someone in a neutral context. Nonetheless, when a subject needs to be made explicit, speakers tend to produce an array of noun phrases, such as the profession (professor, engineer…) or proper name of the addressee.
The greatest change in progress that occurs in plural concerns the pronoun vocês. Despite the fact that vós plus 2pl was useful for centuries to address a group of people in an informal or intimate context, there has been an expansion of vocês to the detriment of vós for this same type of situation. However, vocês is syntactically 3pl and, depending on the region within Portugal, induces 2pl in part of its inflectional elements. The study carried out by determines that, when vocês ousts vós as a stressed pronoun, its 3pl inflection starts spreading throughout the paradigm in a gradual way, adhering to the following hierarchy: subject > reflexive / verb > accusative > dative > possessive. The emergence of the 3pl with reference to vocês is at a different stage of this continuum and has now completed the hierarchy in the south-easternmost area, in the Alentejo and Algarve zone that borders Spain. Nowadays, vocês has not ruled out the usage of vós in the northernmost districts of continental Portugal, where the latter form is a valid pronoun for T plural (, ).
In contrast to the extensive data we have at our disposal regarding continental Portugal, the reality of the two archipelagos is less researched and, although they are expected to follow the southern patterns (which are standard), there is little information about the actual situation on the islands. As a result, the purpose of this article is to partly fill this gap by pinpointing the current pronominal paradigm of politeness in Madeira, and comparing it to the rest of the country as well as to cross-linguistic tendencies. The paper is divided as follows: in 2, I will briefly discuss the data available regarding the latest variations in the politeness system within Madeira; in 3, I will explain the theoretical framework, corpus and methodology I have applied; in 4, I will describe the data I have collected; in 5, I will analyse the results based on several factors: their geolinguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatic behaviour and grammatical patterns; in 6, I will show the conclusions and, in 7, I will list the references I have consulted throughout.
2. THE SYSTEM OF MADEIRA
As for the archipelagos, we only rely on the research carried out by Bazenga ( and ) in Madeira. According to this author, the Madeira society resembles that of continental Portugal, except in the family context. While tu is the T pronoun and o senhor / a senhora is the formal one, você, the null subject strategy and the array of multiple noun phrases are utilised in N situations, with a clear avoidance in the case of você. Nonetheless, in Madeira, parents can still be addressed by means of non-T pronouns and strategies, such as (1-2), taken from , reflect.
This divergence with respect to the rest of Portugal (we lack information about the Azores) is relevant, because it highlights that the family can still be considered a hierarchical entity, unlike in the continent, where this consideration stopped being so in the late 20th century (). In any case, the conception of family as a solidary institution in Portugal occurred more than a century and a half later than elsewhere in western Europe, such as France and Spain (, ). Additionally, suggests that in Madeira explicit subjects are preferred even in N contexts, in contrast to the preference for null subjects in continental Portugal, according to and. Nevertheless, this tendency towards an explicit subject in sensitive contexts does not entail the usage of você, which is omitted, as occurs in continental Portugal. For Bazenga (, ), você mainly arose to address neighbours.
Moreover, the differences remarked upon by Bazenga (, ) must also be constrained to sociolinguistic parameters, since age and educational background have been crucial in this sense. Her investigations highlight that the older the speakers are, the likelier it is for them to conceive the family as a hierarchical institution and, therefore, to use non-T strategies towards parents. In addition, the lower the educational background of the speakers, the likelier it is for them to maintain hierarchy within the family environment. Lastly, the usage of você mainly to address neighbours was not conditioned by any sociolinguistic variables.
As a matter of fact, we do not have much more information on forms of address in Madeira at our disposal, but , and point out the existence of the variant amecê throughout the entire archipelago. This form stems from vossa mercê and it resembles the archaic alternatives vossemecê or vomecê I have already referred to; however, these authors do not restrict it to isolated areas or a specific sociolinguistic profile.
The lack of detailed information and the apparent inclination towards patterns different from those widespread in continental Portugal make it necessary to carry out a rigorous analysis of the actual and current paradigm of pronouns of address in Madeira. As a consequence, below I depict the corpus and methodology I have employed, as well as the theoretical framework this paper has followed. I then show the data and analyse the results and, lastly, I present the conclusions of this in-depth study.
3. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK, CORPUS AND METHODOLOGY
This research paper is based on the variationist theory. Hence, the results I will show throughout will establish whether or not the usage of either pronoun and inflection is conditioned by the sociolinguistic features of the speakers. Furthermore, I will apply the theses by Scollon, regarding the politeness systems. According to these authors, any situation and society can be divided into three possible alternatives: hierarchical, deferential and solidary. In a hierarchical system, there is no reciprocity in the exchange of pronoun and forms of address, since the person who is in an upper position gives T to the one with a lower status, but s/he receives V from his/her interlocutor. This means that the person with a lower status gives V but receives T. In the deferential system, there is reciprocity between interlocutors, but they tend to exchange V by default. Lastly, in the solidary paradigm, there is again reciprocity, but the default exchange is now T.
Societies can also favour any of these three alternatives. Western countries were hierarchical and deferential for hundreds of years, until the late 18th century (). From that moment onwards, these societies have gradually favoured pragmatic solidarity by default and every country that has selected this system has always applied it first in the family environment to later extend it to friends, spouses and, in an ulterior phase, to strangers (see , and, for specific cases, , , , , and , ,). Therefore, this article is also committed to unveiling whether Madeira is inclined towards solidarity or, on the contrary, it prefers other strategies by default, as happens in continental Portugal despite the timid increase of solidarity in recent years ().
However, there may be a misunderstanding in the usage of the terms T, N and V. Even though the literature has labelled N as neutral, this does not mean that N strategies neutralise the degree of politeness. N forms and strategies arise as distant terms and alternatives for situations in which interlocutors find T impolite and V too polite. Moreover, N terms are usually employed reciprocally, but if they are resorted to in non-reciprocal communicative acts, their connotation conveys the degree of distance the interlocutors choose to maintain. Therefore, the non-reciprocity of terms, regardless of their combination, must be understood as a hierarchical relationship, while reciprocity denotes egalitarianism. The choice of either V, N and T in this (non-)reciprocity marks the degree of distance interlocutors wish to maintain, the former being the most and the latter, the least distant option.
With the aim of collecting as many occurrences as possible from spontaneous speech, I have invented an audio-visual methodology that prompts the production of second person pronouns and inflections. The likelihood of second person pronouns appearing is extremely low in a semi-conducted interview, so its elicitation makes it necessary to adopt other methods such as those pointed out by for this same line of research applied to Spanish.
As a result, I have compiled a series of scenes from a well-known sitcom in Portugal (Aqui não há quem viva), in which many types of characters address different groups of people. Firstly, I described to the informants what the character said; they were then required to become the character and repeat the lines as if their interlocutors were in front of them. All participants were asked to play the same characters in the same scenes. In this sense, there has been no variation in the sample depending on the sociolinguistic variables of the informants. This method worked successfully and enabled the elicitation of singular and plural stressed pronouns, as well as their inflections in all the syntactic contexts that were envisaged: verb, reflexive, accusative, dative and possessive.
Likewise, all informants were shown scenes that covered many types of contexts in order to also comprehend the degree of politeness and type of courtesy that is now the norm throughout the archipelago. The informants were thus required to speak to one addressee or group by taking into account the degree of formality of the situation. These scenes covered the following communicative acts and participants: customers, children, parents, neighbours, church, friends, spouses, students, professors, colleagues, subordinate to superior, job interview and TV interview. While friends and spouses are intimate contexts, some of them present asymmetrical relations, specifically: the job interview entailed the address from a manager towards a candidate; another work-related scene showed the address from a subordinate towards a superior; in another scene, a professor talked to a student; and in a scene where church was the setting, the priest talked to his audience. Likewise, there was a series of scenes that can be considered either asymmetrical or symmetrical: the address from children towards their parents and viceversa. The results will determine whether these family environments are perceived in Madeira as hierarchical or not. In a latter selection of scenes I showed some N situations: interaction between customers and sellers, neighbours, colleagues and participants in a TV interview. The reason why these have been labelled N resides in the fact that there is no difference of power among interlocutors, but these situations do not necessarily trigger informality or much formality.
The survey I have depicted above has been applied to 83 informants (with the sociolinguistic variables detailed in Table 2), from whom I have extracted 2,319 occurrences. The island of Madeira provided 63 speakers, while Porto Santo supplied 20 informants.
|SEX||MEN: 35 (43%) / WOMEN: 48 (57%)|
|Educational background||High [university studies]: 27 (30%) / Low [non-university studies]: 56 (70%)|
|Age||-30: 37 (44.5%) / 30-60: 26 (31.3%) / +60: 20 (24.2%)|
|Demographics||Rural: 59 (71%) / Urban: 24 (29%)|
Furthermore, the methodology has been carried out on the two inhabited islands as map 1 shows:
It is important to underlie that over two thirds of the population living in Madeira are concentrated in Funchal and its suburbs, while over 80% of the inhabitants are settled on the southern coast, near Funchal ().
The occurrences have been subsequently classified based on the sociolinguistic variables I have mentioned, but also pursue a series of linguistic parameters: the stressed pronoun, the syntactic context of the stressed pronoun (subject or prepositional phrase), verb, reflexive, accusative, dative, possessive, as well as degree of politeness. The chi squared has also been applied to the data I provide below in order to discover which variable is significant in the usage of either strategy. The instances I show will be labelled after the extra-linguistic features of the informant: M (male), F (female), -30 (younger than 30 years old), 30-60 (between 30 and 60 years old), +60 (older than 60), L (low educational background), H (high educational background), city and demographics. Consequently, M+60H Funchal urban equates to male above the age of 60 with a high educational background, from Funchal, an urban area.
As set out above, the method I employed made it possible to elicit stressed pronouns as well as different inflections in the rest of the syntactic contexts. I show the distribution of each of them in tables 3 and 4.
|2sg: 372||2sg: 1||2sg: 136||2sg: 12||2sg: 197|
|3sg: 509||3sg: 28||3sg: 58||3sg: 27||3sg: 96|
|2pl: 6||2pl: 1||2pl: 89||2pl: 99||2pl: 47|
|3pl: 316||3pl: 79||3pl: 22||3pl: 6||3pl: 7|
Table 3 clearly shows that Madeira speakers explicitly use você in singular as well as vós in plural, though the latter pronoun was produced on a few occasions. Likewise, the verbal inflection exhibits a 2pl agreement six times, whereas the reflexive pronoun has only arisen once with a 2pl desinence (3-7).
The remaining syntactic elements inflected in 2pl do not necessarily refer to vós, since throughout Portugal vocês induces 3pl in verbs and reflexives and 2pl in objects and possessives (8-10).
Besides the abovementioned examples, the results have also shown the employment of another three strategies that the literature has repeatedly referred to: o senhor / a senhora to address someone politely, the resource of the noun phrase plus 3sg to treat somebody with whom distance should be maintained and the selection of no subject plus 3sg for the same diaphasic situation (11-17). According to , the choice of either depends on the degree of distance, with o senhor / a senhora being more formal than the proper name plus 3sg, but less than the explicitness of the treatment followed by social status plus 3sg (such as o senhor doutor, ‘sir doctor’).
These examples reflect the array of possibilities in non-T communicative acts. Informants have chosen the proper name, the professional status, the kinship position and the noun phrase, o senhor / a senhora. It is important to clarify that I will treat the phrase o senhor / a senhora as virtually pronominal. Although it emerges as a nominal compound, its behaviour resembles that of a pronoun (in fact, have already pointed out this fact), since it has achieved a very fixed degree of coalescence and is undergoing a grammaticalization process with loss of phonic weight that in Brazil has been addressed with solutions such as sinhô and sô ().
As for the null subject plus 3sg, its emergence reaches up to 179 occurrences. It is important to make clear what is understood by null subject plus 3sg, because this terminology lends itself to spurious conclusions in a pro drop language such as Portuguese. The tokens I have counted do not encompass any sentence without a pronoun, but they entail the number of sentences without any explicit subject in a given pragmatic situation. This means that, for a specific scene, if the informant has produced 5 out of 6 sentences without any subject (but s/he has done so in one), then none of them can be considered null subject plus 3sg. The fact that five of them fail to exhibit a subject simply follows the grammatical behaviour of a pro drop language, but it becomes clearly apparent that the sentence with the subject is simultaneously the implicit subject of the other five. As a consequence, I have applied the label of null subject plus 3sg only when the informant did not produce any subject at all in all the speech s/he uttered throughout an entire situation. This slight difference is crucial, for it cannot be said that the informants who resorted to a null subject plus 2sg tried to avoid the subject in order not to be impolite. The mere employment of 2sg establishes the relationship and implies the usage of tu. Nevertheless, the selection of the 3sg without any subject leaves the treatment the addresser has in his/her mind, and tries to avoid at any cost precisely to avoid impoliteness, unclear. In this sense, the 3sg envisages several alternatives: o senhor / a senhora, the noun phrase or você, while the 2sg can only refer to tu.
The occurrences I have depicted up to now suggest the large paradigm that exists in Madeira Portuguese, mainly in singular. All these characteristics are at the same time constrained by geographical and sociolinguistic variables, as well as by universal pragmatic tendencies and cross-linguistic grammatical patterns. Therefore, in the next section, I will analyse all these factors under study.
The previous section showed the total results of the survey and shed light on the existence of the pronouns of address in the Madeira of today, as well as the inflectional system. Nevertheless, the data suggest that not every pronoun or strategy is conditioned by the same geographical, sociolinguistic or pragmatic variables. In fact, the geolinguistic constraint applies to the behaviour of vocês and its agreement pattern only, since the results have not provided any specific pattern for the usage of tu, vós, você, o senhor (and its counterparts in gender and number) and other strategies, such as null subject plus 3sg or noun phrase plus 3sg.
Moreover, the analysis reveals that sociolinguistic factors affect the usage of você as well as the strategies employed to address parents, but not any other pronoun or strategy. Likewise, the results show that the pragmatic reality of Madeira is undergoing important changes regarding the conception of family, the spread of pragmatic solidarity, as well as the virtual disappearance of vós even for the expected stereotyped contexts. Finally, it is worth mentioning that grammar also plays a role in the changes in progress: this is especially relevant in the extension of vocês as well as in the deletion of vós. Furthermore, the data have also been supplied with tokens of stressed pronouns in object positions as well as with dative clitics for accusative contexts.
In light of the abovementioned features, the analysis is focused on the following phenomena: in 5.1., I discuss the geolinguistic extension of vocês; in 5.2., I present the sociolinguistic constraints I have referred to previously; in 5.3., I argue the pragmatic tendencies attested nowadays in Madeira; and in 5.4., I detail the grammatical behaviour of the inflections anchoring vocês and the elimination of vós, as well as the other phenomena regarding clitics and objects.
As has been stated, the single element that is subject to geographic variation is the extension of the agreement referring to vocês. This was expected, since this pronoun and its inflections vary on the continent, depending on a continuum. In previous sections I stated that continental Portugal possesses different areas that are characterised by prompting the 3pl in a given implicational stage within a hierarchy. As a result, it is also necessary to draw the diffusion of the 3pl in the syntactic elements anchoring vocês in Madeira (map 2) in order todiscover whether it has the same behaviour and to what extent the 3pl has reached the end of the continuum.
Map 2 represents the cartographic diffusion of the 3pl throughout the objects and the possessive. It is important to bear in mind that in the case of 3pl the entire archipelago is in agreement on the stressed pronoun, the reflexive and the verb. However, the emergence of the 3pl in further elements depends upon a diatopic factor. Whilst Funchal and its surroundings now exhibit 3pl in objects and possessives (18 and 19a-21a), Porto Santo and some areas in southern Madeira and around the village of Santana in the north also present the 3pl in the accusative and the dative, but not yet in the possessive (18, 19a-20a and 21b). The eastern part of the island as well as most of the southern zone only inflect the accusative in 3pl, but not the dative and the possessive (18, 19a and 20-21b). Lastly, the rest of Madeira only agrees on the verb, the reflexive and the stressed pronoun in 3pl, but prefers the objects and the possessive to be construed in 2pl morphology (18, 19b-21-b).
The geographical distribution drawn by map 2 points out two tendencies: the first refers to the fact that no specific pattern is followed in the diffusion of the 3pl. The appearance of this agreement in objects and possessives is attested randomly and suggests that every area ends up spreading this inflection to further elements without the pressure or the affectedness from a neighbouring region; secondly, the most rural and remote areas within Madeira (the west, the north-west and the centre) are coherent in maintaining the 3pl only in the stressed pronoun, the verb and the reflexive. The relative isolation of this region with respect to the rest of the archipelago may have played a role in this sense.
In the previous paragraphs I described the distribution of stressed pronouns and inflections in current Madeira. Nonetheless, there are two options that seem to be subject to the sociolinguistic parameters of the speaker (apart from the communicative context, as will be discussed in the pragmatic section): the usage of você as well as the strategies to address members of the family.
In Table 5, I detail the sociolinguistic variables that have explicitly used the pronoun você.
Table 5 clearly establishes the scarce differences that seem to appear when collating the profiles. Regardless of age, employment is high and the same applies to educational background and, to some extent, the demographic pattern. Only sex supplies a wider gap, with the male informants being more inclined to produce você. If the chi squared is calculated, no variable is significant except the one that refers to sex, which grants the following result: p-value is .034748, significant at p < .05. In other words, the resource of você in Madeira is restrained to the sex of the informant and not to any other sociolinguistic characteristic, but this restriction is statistically significant in a minimal proportion.
Another crucial aspect is related to the hierarchical consideration of family. Below, in Table 6, I list the sociolinguistic profiles of the speakers who have resorted to non-T strategies to address parents. Attention should be drawn to the fact that Table 6 synthesises all the strategies that are not associated with informality. In this sense, both V and N alternatives have been included. In the pragmatic section, I will disentangle the behaviour of both strategies (N and V) in this regard.
Table 6 suggests the increase of pragmatic solidarity and the gradual conception of family as an egalitarian entity. It reveals that at least 4 out of 10 speakers in current Madeira still considers the family entity as non-solidary. As that which occurred with the usage of você, the percentages are more or less close to each other, and it becomes necessary to apply the chi squared. In this case, the single variable that has emerged as significant is age: p-value is .020557, significant at p < .05. In other words, the older the informants, the more inclined they are to employ non-T strategies in the family environment.
To summarise, the current sociolinguistic panorama in Madeira determines that the employment of você is quite extended, but it is more rooted in men. Furthermore, the hierarchical (at least, non-solidary) conception of family is still valid amongst older people, whereas the rest of the speakers tend to make it solidary, mainly in the case of younger speakers. Below, I discuss the pragmatic behaviour of the current system, focusing on the pronoun você, the gradual tendency towards solidarity in plural forms and within the family and the maintenance of deference in singular and the elimination of vós.
The ruling pragmatic system in current Madeira suggests three changes in progress: the total disappearance of vós even in contexts where it had been preserved; the gradual tendency towards pragmatic solidarity in plural; and the maintenance of deference and distance in singular, though less and less within the family and in conflict with the usage of você.
5.3.1. The usage of vós
The employment of vós has been scarce, as Table 7 depicts.
Although I have already made clear that the usage of vós does not depend upon any sociolinguistic feature (as determined by the statistical proof), I have intentionally included this information in Table 7 in order to demonstrate the generalised disappearance of vós in Madeira society. Scarcely 10% of informants have produced it within the expected contexts from where it may emerge.
The twelve occasions on which speakers produced it referred to the church, precisely one of the situations where it is expected to be attested, but its scarcity and its substitution by the pronoun vocês in most informants, regardless of their sociolinguistic profile, indicate that it is close to disappearance even in these contexts.
The gradual loss of vós even for certain stereotyped contexts resembles its Spanish counterpart in Hispanic America. The opposition vosotros-ustedes that dominates in Spain, the former being T plural and the latter V plural, stopped being valid in Hispanic America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when ustedes generalised as the single plural pronoun, regardless of the degree of politeness (Lara Bermejo 2022a). Nevertheless, vosotros was maintained as the selected pronoun within the church, army and parliament, exactly the same situations as for European Portuguese (Cunha & Cintra 1972). The usage of vosotros is widely attested in Hispanic America for these purposes, as demonstrates for Mexico, but this same author has drawn attention to the fact that even these contexts are gradually dismissing vosotros as a formula and are on the verge of choosing ustedes plus 3pl. This is exactly what my corpus suggests regarding current Portuguese, at least in Madeira.
5.3.2. Address within the family
With respect to the family environment, remarks upon the profound maintenance of non-T strategies from children towards their parents, with a persistence as regards the hierarchical view of family, as that which occurred in western societies prior to the French Revolution. According to this author, nearly three quarters of the people she surveyed preferred alternatives such as o senhor / a senhora, the noun pai and mãe followed by 3sg rather than 2sg, and the strategy of null subject plus 3sg. This tendency was, however, restrained to elderly speakers and to informants with a low educational background. My survey has further analysed this fact and in Table 6 I referred to the fact that the elderly are more inclined to do so, with this being less and less the case the younger the speaker is. Regardless, in this section I will deal with the strategies people from Madeira resort to for relatives in a higher position. In Tables 8, 9 and 10, I detail the number of occurrences of T, N and V strategies respectively to address parents.
|TU||NULL SUBJECT + 2SG||ACCUSATIVE 2SG||PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE|
|26 (29%)||22 (24,7%)||20 (22,5%)||Ti: 21 (23,8%)|
|VOCÊ||NULL SUBJECT + 3SG||PAI / MÃE (NOUN PHRASE)||ACCUSATIVE 3SG||PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE|
|12 (15,6%)||5 (6,5%)||18 (23,3%)||15 (19,5%)||
Si: 21 (27,3%)
Você: 1 (1,3%)
Pai / mãe (noun phrase): 5 (6,5%)
Tables 8, 9 and 10 indicate firstly that T alternatives are based upon the pronoun tu and 2sg inflections. Nonetheless, non-T strategies exhibit further possibilities: the explicit usage of você, the employment of o senhor / a senhora, the status held within the family as the subject of the sentence (mãe, pai) as well as the null subject plus 3sg.
Firstly, the choice for the kinship status is always followed by the 3sg, revealing that it is not a T strategy. Secondly, the accusative inflected in 3sg is not reinforced by any stressed pronoun or form, which is why I have labelled it as N, as in the strategy of null subject plus 3sg, for it leaves the address opaque. Finally, the most diffused prepositional phrase is si, again increasing the opacity of the form of address, since it is useful for any resource that envisages the 3sg regardless of the subject form. In any case, as (22-24) demonstrate, at present 40% of Madeira speakers produce non-T strategies to address parents.
The resource of você has been employed by 4 elderly, 5 middle-aged and one young informant. O senhor / a senhora, on the contrary, has been used by one elderly, 2 middled-aged and two young informants. The noun phrase strategy is divided as follows: 9 elderly, 4 middle-aged, and 4 young people. Finally, the null subject has been preferred by 1 elderly, 4 middle-aged and 1 young. The overall results suggest the tendency within the family entity towards solidarity, but undergoing an intermediate phase earlier.
Apart from the fact that 40% of the sample used non-T strategies towards parents, the most diffused pronouns and alternatives are those associated with N, since o senhor / a senhora hardly appeared. In this sense, the family concept has passed from being considered hierarchical to being conceived slightly more solidary in these profiles, for they prefer N strategies such as você, the family status plus 3sg or null subject plus 3sg. It cannot be affirmed, however, that this slow tendency means solidarity, rather less hierarchy, since the abovementioned options are still deferential. Children gave V or N to their parents, but they were replied to with the T form, so there was no reciprocity in the exchange of the level of politeness. As a result, the transformation that the family has undergone in Madeira has entailed an in-between phase, before a final reversion to solidarity. Hence, the results found in this field study simply reveal the last relics of the family as a non-solidary entity, underlying this in-between stage before achieving this goal.
This in-between phase is likewise underpinned again by Spanish. García Godoy (, ) has documented the change in Spain that occurred in the early 19th century, when upper-class and urban people started to address their parents through T. However, the usage of pronoun tú (T) for parents was not immediate and, before this happened, children underwent a stage in which they continued to employ V pronouns but with noun phrases that were perceived as T. Specifically, children ousted the terms padre (‘father’) and madre (‘mother’) by favouring the allocutives papá (‘dad’) and mamá (‘mom’). The emergence of these noun phrases did not imply the rise of tú, but there was a period of time in which T noun phrases coexisted with V pronouns for the same interlocutors. With time, children also deleted V pronouns and treated their parents by means of tú. This is not exclusive to the family, but states that T noun phrases are always the prelude to T pronouns. Her affirmations are based on the fact that there was also a generalised usage of tú in relationships of friendship or marriage in the late 19th century after the previous universalisation of T noun phrases for these contexts ().
Unlike European Portuguese, Peninsular Spanish does not possess N pronouns or strategies. Whereas Spanish mixed T noun phrases with V pronouns in the intermediate stage before the total establishment of pragmatic solidarity in the abovementioned contexts, Madeira Portuguese has selected N forms and alternatives for this in-between phase towards pragmatic solidarity.
5.3.3. The usage of você and null subject + 3sg
One of the relevant factors to be assessed as regards the pronoun você is its pragmatic range in current Madeira. Based on my corpus, this resource has arisen on 15 (6.7%) occasions to address someone politely; on 83 (37%) occasions to address an interlocutor who is in a lower position; and on 126 (56.3%) occasions to treat an addressee who is in an equal position. In the former case, the informants selected it to address a manager (5 young, 6 middled-aged and 3 elderly), while in the second situation, the addresser was either a professor who spoke to a student or a manager who addressed a subordinate. In the latter case, the interlocutors covered clients, non-elderly strangers and neighbours.
The distribution of pronouns makes it necessary to assess whether it also depends on the diaphasic context or if it is only a matter of sociolinguistic factors. In Table 11, I detail the number of times every pronoun has arisen and in what context.
|Tu||132 (27%)||32 (6,3%)||0|
|Você||101 (20%)||110 (21,8%)||13 (2,6%)|
|O senhor / a senhora||0||71 (14%)||46 (8,3%)|
Table 11 illustrates that tu cannot be resorted to as a V strategy and neither can o senhor be employed as T. The former is useful in intimate contexts and, to a lesser extent, in neutral situations in which interlocutors share power. The latter is employed to give V to someone and it can also appear in N situations. As was stated by the literature regarding continental Portugal, você can be perceived as T, N and V. In Madeira, following the results of this field study, você as asymmetrical ascendant (V) is strictly limited to those informants that still use it for parents as well as, on very rare occasions, to address a manager. The most diffused pragmatic value of você in current Madeira lies on N and, in the case of T, if there is no reciprocity in the treatment. In other words: você is deferential when it is expected to serve for both interlocutors, and asymmetrical as it is also employed to address someone in a lower position. To sum up, tu is solidary, o senhor is both deferential and hierarchical to address someone in a higher position, and você is both deferential and hierarchical to address someone in a lower position. The difference in the employment of o senhor and você for deference is the degree of communicative distance, the former being more distant than the latter. As a matter of fact, the statistical results leave no doubt; based on the chi squared, the p-value is < 0.00001, significant at p < .05.
The apparent contradictory behaviour of você resembles the pragmatic path of singular vós in both Portuguese and Spanish as a V pronoun. The pragmatic origin of this form was V in the Middle Ages, but as V forms emerged by default, their courteous connotation stopped being perceived and by the late Middle Ages and the early Modern Era, speakers made up new polite strategies to replace the gradual loss of courtesy that vós was undergoing (Cintra 1972). Nevertheless, the pragmatic depreciation of vós entailed a period of time in which it could be considered in a contradictory way: polite, informal and even offensive. Vós became an N pronoun, for contexts in which a V strategy was too polite and where tu was not polite enough. Thus, European Portuguese exhibited at that time a tripartite system in singular, in which vós could be employed as the current você. The problem with N situations is the certainty about such a consideration on the part of the interlocutor. The boundary between a T and an N context can be narrow, as the frontier between N and V can also be. This is why tripartite paradigms in singular are rarely attested cross-linguistically () and can be witnessed for example in Romanian.
The fear of committing a face-threatening act obliges the addresser to know some data about his/her interlocutor in order to satisfy the communicative act. As você can be problematic for the abovementioned reasons, speakers solve this problem by not explicitly producing a pronoun and resorting to a null subject plus 3sg or to a noun phrase. This alternative is crucial, since the explicit expression of a subject is sometimes necessary for topical continuity or for contrastive purposes. When the informants who took part in this survey needed to produce a subject in an N situation and did not want to use você, they asked me about the proper name of the addressee. Only when they were given the name could they go on with the discourse. In the cases in which no proper name was given, they could not help inventing it. Additionally, if they knew the job their addressee had, this problem was solved by referring to the professional status, but the knowledge of the proper name of the addressee has become essential in current European Portuguese to avoid impoliteness in certain situations in which the addresser does not consider você the right subject. This can even be valued in the distribution of the null subject + 3sg and the explicit usage of a subject in both N and V (Table 12).
Table 12 shows that, contrary to the statements in the literature regarding continental Portugal, Madeira speakers prefer the explicitness of a subject in the most problematic pragmatic context of all: N. However, V situations give the opposite picture though with a lesser gap between percentages. It is pertinent to recall that accounting for the null subject plus 2sg is useless, because any 2sg inflection with or without a subject implies the usage of tu. The data Table 12 provides is interesting, as it shows the need to make the degree of politeness clear through the treatment itself in spite of the fact that the 3sg alone avoids such a commitment. In this sense, Madeira seems to follow a different path from continental Portugal, as claims.
The results I present regarding você contradict a number of statements that can be found repeatedly in the literature, but which are not supported by any empirical research. For instance, state that in Portugal, você is employed by an elite who use it interchangeably with T as a way to differentiate themselves from other social classes. This is the first theory yet to beunderpinned by any empirical data and which demands specific research. Secondly, these authors also remark that Portugal is experiencing an increasing tendency towards the usage of você in younger generations and speakers with low educational backgrounds. My study does not support this hypothesis at all (it is important to highlight that these statements are not backed up by any empirical study) and, with regards to Madeira, você is widely attested irrespective of sociolinguistic variables, except for sex, though to a minimal degree. Thirdly, resort to quite an extended cliché in Lusophone linguistics when they affirm that the supposed increase of você is a direct influence of TV series produced in Brazil (telenovelas) as well as of the mass migration on the part of Brazilian people to Portugal.
As regards the aforementioned cliché, apart from the lack of empirical evidence it emerges as the least likely hypothesis of all. In the first place, language contact and dialect contact (which more or less behave the same) exhibit a series of stages that depend on both linguistic and extra-linguistic features. While the former usually affect lexicon, to a lesser extent phonetics, very rarely morpho-syntax and virtually never pragmatics, the latter respond to the prestige and consideration of every language and dialect involved in the contact (, ). Applied to European Portuguese and its contact with Brazilian Portuguese via television and migration, this means that the Portuguese would have adopted many lexical items from the Brazilian variety, had they incorporated você as it is used in Brazil. Moreover, the Portuguese would have started to produce certain phonetic contexts in a Brazilian way, had they incorporated você as it is used in Brazil. Additionally, the Portuguese would have developed morpho-syntactic features coming from the Brazilian variety, had they incorporated você as it is used in Brazil. To summarise: if Portugal had reinterpreted the pragmatic employment of você because of a direct influence from the Brazilians, then European Portuguese would have to exhibit an array of linguistic features, mainly in lexicon, less in phonetics and even less in syntax, influenced by the Brazilian variety. However, this has not occurred. The usage of você has nothing to do with the Brazilian reality.
Empirical evidence supports my proposal that the employment of você in European Portuguese is not affected by the Brazilian paradigm, at least regarding Madeira. Pragmatics is a characteristic that varies depending on a specific country, but not on the language. It is very rooted in the beliefs of a given society and, consequently, the pragmatic system of Portugal is different from that of Brazil, which is also different from that of Angola and so on. It is not Portuguese that is the factor that imposes a type of pragmatic system, rather, it is the country regardless of the language and languages spoken within. For example, politeness in Switzerland is not conceived the same way as in Germany, Italy and France, despite the fact that this country presents the three languages. Indeed, Switzerland applies a type of politeness that is useful for all of its official languages ().
The same happens in the Hispanic world. The pragmatic conception of politeness in Spain is not the same as that in Costa Rica, although both countries possess Spanish (, ). Within Spain, however, speakers of Spanish, Galician, Catalan and Basque behave identically in this respect because the pragmatic system is constrained to what Spain understands, and not to what every language triggers. Furthermore, the shift in pragmatics, specifically in relation to politeness, follows the prestige (). Spain changed to pragmatic solidarity in the late 18th century as a French influence because the prestige at that time was France (). But in the case of dialect contact, the change is usually made by those who are in a lower position. investigated the pragmatic behaviour of Argentinians who migrated to both Germany and Spain. While they did not develop any shift in Spanish if they lived in Germany, those who settled in Spain gradually took the Spanish pragmatic system and not the other way around. studied the adoption of the politeness system from Ecuadorian people in Spain and concluded that they tended to adopt the Spanish system because it is the prestigious model in that country, but they did it in stages and very slowly, underlying again the reluctance towards pragmatic shifts even within the same language. Hence, it is very unlikely for Brazilian immigrants to have conditioned the Portuguese in Portugal. The statements by do not have counterparts elsewhere.
5.3.4. Tendency towards solidarity
I affirmed above that present day Madeira is gradually accepting solidarity in the plural. The comparison of occurrences suggests this fact: vocês was produced 311 times whereas os senhores / as senhoras was expressed 29 times. The latter was resorted to when the addressees were elderly and in situations that implied distance, but not necessarily hierarchy, such as when dealing with customers. It is worth mentioning that the same speakers that talked to their parents by means of a V strategy in singular opted for vocês and not for os senhores when they addressed both parents. Likewise, most informants that resorted to o senhor or a senhora in singular preferred vocês for the same situations in plural. As that which could occur in singular with the choice of o senhor and você or null subject plus 3sg, the selection for either vocês or os senhores in certain contexts, mainly N, is subject to the degree of distance and deference that the addresser establishes with respect to his/her addressees. But, roughly speaking, vocês can be used for plural contexts where o senhor / a senhora would be the most adequate strategy in singular.
Solidarity usually starts in the plural rather than in the singular in languages that have pronominal divergences in this grammatical number for different diaphasic situations. For example, French or Italian do not exhibit different pronouns in plural to distinguish the degree of politeness, for vous can serve for both T and V and voi behaves alike. However, Peninsular Spanish opposes vosotros for T to ustedes for V and has demonstrated that pragmatic solidarity in Spain began in the plural in the late 18th century. From that moment, Spanish society gradually tended to accept more contexts via vosotros, but did not do the same thing in singular. It was only when this happened in plural that Spain further prompted pragmatic solidarity by also resorting to singular T pronouns in contexts where a V pronoun was previously mandatory. Moreover, as argues, it is quite rare to attest languages that also establish pronominal differences in plural to express social deixis, and this is why most languages only exhibit an array of pronouns (two in French or Italian, up to four in Hispanic America) to mark diaphasic distinctions in singular. The plural lends itself to syncretism and, as a result, entails fewer pragmatic risks; therefore, the plural favours profound pragmatic changes in society, as occurs with the case of pragmatic solidarity.
5.4. Grammatical behaviour
Lastly, it is important to determine the grammatical behaviour of the Madeira paradigm: stressed pronouns in unstressed positions, dative clitics in accusative contexts, the prepositional phrase for non-T forms, the extension of the 3pl in vocês and the deletion of vós.
5.4.1. Objects and oblique: stressed pronouns, dative and the prepositional phrase
As for the usage of stressed pronouns in unstressed positions, this has only happened with the pronoun você. Specifically, it has been produced 9 times as an accusative and, though there are no restrictions that apply to age or sex, 2 people have a high educational background whereas 7 informants have a lower educational level (25-26). Likewise, the employment of dative pronouns in accusative contexts has also arisen 4 times, all of them produced by young speakers with no educational background (27-29).
The resource of stressed pronouns in unstressed contexts, mainly direct objects, is widely documented in Brazil, but it has also been pointed out for Madeira by . However, in their study, this alternative is found in people with a low educational background. This is also the main sociolinguistic variable in my corpus, though it has also emerged in informants with the opposite profile. As for the dative in accusative environments, this lhe instead of the normative accusative pronouns has also been attested in continental Portugal as well as in Madeira with reference to a semantic third person (, ), but in my corpus this has occurred with reference to você and not to any other 3sg strategy. This suggests that lhe could also appear for reasons of politeness, imitating the model in Brazil and in Spain. Regardless of the sociolinguistic factors that may prompt this shift, its mere existence obeys two specific purposes: the differentiation between a semantic and a syntactic third person, and the promotion of the human entity in the topical scale, conveyed by the most common grammatical case (the dative).
The former reason can also be found in Brazilian Portuguese and Peninsular Spanish, where the dative lhe and le, respectively, have established themselves as the unique unstressed pronouns in third person in order to distinguish politeness and a semantic third person. By doing so, both varieties resort to normative accusative pronouns where the entity is he or she, but change to dative in any unstressed context when the reference is an addressee who should be addressed politely. As a result, this variation in case responds to pragmatic motives (, , ).
The latter reason is a cross-linguistic tendency prompted by several semantic and discursive grounds. pinpoints that the dative case usually conveys a human entity, embodied in a number of semantic roles: beneficiary, recipient, possessor or even dative, which the author defines as a conscious participant in the event, typically animate, but not the deliberate initiator. This last semantic role can materialise in different syntactic functions (30-32).
Instances (30-32) underlie that the element in italics is semantically a dative and, syntactically, it can be the subject, the direct object and the indirect object. In other words: a dative can be these three syntactic functions, but a patient or an agent cannot. Moreover, as the dative is usually a human entity and can emerge in all those syntactic positions, it is inclined to be conveyed by a specific marker, also because of discursive reasons. Again, according to , the human entity is the most salient feature in discourse, tending to be positioned at the beginning of the speech because of a topical hierarchy that promotes the human to the first place. Furthermore, the human entity also lends itself to being referred to in a specific way to follow its saliency: this means that, regardless of its syntactic function, it may be expressed coherently and differently with regards to non-human entities. As a result, humans may develop their own marker for any syntactic case in contrast to a different marker for other referents.
If we compare these cross-linguistic tendencies to the dialectic realities in Madeira or elsewhere in Brazil and Spain, it is possible to observe that all of them follow these assumptions. Firstly, the human entity is conveyed coherently with its own marker, in this case le in Spanish and lhe in Portuguese. Secondly, the human entity is inclined to be expressed differently with respect to another referent even for the same syntactic functions, which is why Spanish and some varieties of Portuguese have developed a clitic for polite third person and another one for a non-human or semantic third person (, ). Thirdly, the two of them have selected the dative case, which coincides with the semantic role of dative and which is nearly always a human entity ().
Apart from these particularities in the object position, Madeira Portuguese has syncretised the stressed pronoun in si (or consigo when the preposition is com ‘with’) within a prepositional phrase to refer to non-T forms: 176 times in contrast with 26 occurrences of stressed pronouns homophonous to the subject form. Nonetheless, the usage of si is only 3sg and cannot refer to a plural entity. The relevance of si is the fact that it is useful for você and o senhor / a senhora, again reflecting the problematic feature of singular pronouns that are not tu. By resorting to si, speakers avoid the explicit production of the address, which may only arise as the subject. This applies to noun phrases and null subject plus 3sg too. The most important pragmatic decision nowadays in the singular in syntactic terms is the production of the subject, while si has been applied in the prepositional phrase as a solution in this grammatical context.
5.4.2.Extension of the 3pl anchoring vocês
In the previous paragraphs, I highlighted the fact that, even though vocês is syntactically 3pl, European Portuguese is characterised by exhibiting agreement mismatches between the pronoun, verb and reflexive (3pl) and possessives and objects (2pl). This does not happen in Brazilian Portuguese where vocês systematically induces 3pl, but Portugal also presents different extension of the 3pl, depending on the geographical area. In the case of Madeira, in Table 13 I depict the distribution of agreement referring to vocês.
|311 3pl (100%)||79 3pl (100%)||316 3pl (100%)||
89 2pl (80%)
22 3pl (20%)
99 2pl (94%)
6 3pl (6%)
47 2pl (96%)
2 3pl (4%)
Table 13 pinpoints that any syntactic element anchoring vocês is coherently inflected in 3pl as long as it is the subject, the reflexive and the verb. The rest of the elements swing between the 2pl and the 3pl, but not to the same degree. Whereas the accusative gives more occurrences of 3pl (though the 2pl is the major one), there is more reluctance towards the dative as regards 3pl and, finally, the possessive hardly inflects in 3pl. It must be stated that the prepositional phrase has also given vocês as the preferred stressed pronoun, except when it is preceded by the preposition com (‘with’). In this case, the usage of the 3pl is 86% (19 times), and the strategy convosco¸ syntactically 2pl, appears 3 times (14%).
The picture provided with by the data clearly establishes that Madeira follows the same pattern as continental Portugal, since the 3pl undergoes a specific hierarchy: subject > verb / reflexive > accusative > dative > possessive. The behaviour of the accusative allows for analysing the path transited by the 3pl, since it starts emerging in this case when the pronoun is enclitic (10 times in 3pl versus 15 times 2pl) while there is a leaning towards proclisis in 2pl (10 times 3pl versus 74 times 2pl) (33-34).
The rise of the 3pl in enclitic accusatives in my corpus has been mainly produced after an infinitive. The concatenation of the sound /r/ plus the sound /v/ might have been a phonetic context that has triggered the conversion of the 2pl into a 3pl. This hypothesis is supported by an analogous phenomenon witnessed in Spanish in the 16th century. According to , the current 2pl unstressed pronoun is os and not vos as it was in the Middle Ages, because the pronunciation of the sequence /r/+/v/, such as the one in Portuguese, produced the gradual loss of /v/ in these contexts. Once vos turned itself into os whenever it followed an /r/, speakers ended up generalising os in every situation regardless of the phonological constraints. But the final shift of vos into os commenced in these specific phonological sequences. The same seems to apply to the establishment of the 3pl in the accusative in Portuguese.
However, this shift is firstly attested in the accusative, since the same speakers that preferred 3pl in the accusative after /r/ did not produce a 3pl in the dative after /r/. Therefore, the spread of the 3pl must necessarily undergo the abovementioned hierarchy. This continuum is not arbitrary either, but it responds to the grammatical behaviour that many phenomena follow when they are subject to grammatical case (). For instance, causativisation, passivisation and relativisation are also constrained by this hierarchy (,). English can make a passive out of an indirect object (dative) because it can do so out of a direct object (accusative). The languages capable of relativising a genitive (whose) can do so because they are able to relativise the subject, the direct object and the indirect object. Hence, the extension of the 3pl in vocês obeys this same feature and can even have a counterpart in Andalusian Spanish, where the spread of the 3pl referring to the pronoun ustedes runs across this same hierarchy at the expense of the 2pl that refers to the eliminated pronoun vosotros (Lara Bermejo , ).
5.4.3. The loss of vós
The loss of vós as 2pl has already been discussed: the scarcity of speakers who have expressed it in expected contexts is proof of this fact. But this tendency can even be underpinned by the agreement pattern referring to the stressed form, for not all informants expressed a verb in 2pl right after the subject, but two of them preferred a 3pl agreement, suggesting again that vocês has virtually established itself as the plural pronoun in any T and N situation (35-36). It is pertinent to recall that only ten people produced vós, so 20% them are already spreading the 3pl even with this referent.
The instances pinpoint the grammatical instability of vós, as a proportion of the few speakers who resorted to it were not coherent in agreeing on all the elements in 2pl. While (35) already enables the verb in 3pl right after the treatment, (36) shows that, despite the first verb inflecting in 2pl, the second prefers the 3pl though its referent is the same one. This apparent contradiction, according to , responds to a change in progress that opposes two different agreements. The extension of one of them at the expense of the other reveals the deletion of the latter. However, this process entails not only gradualness, but the coexistence of the new agreement with the one which is being ousted. This is exactly what (35-36) suggest.
This article represents a considerable breakthrough in Portuguese and politeness studies, mainly referring to Madeira. The lack of in-depth research regarding actual data on one of the most complex phenomena in Lusophone linguistics is still an incognita that is being slowly unveiled. Thanks to this study, it is possible to analyse the current reality in the Madeira archipelago. I summarise the main achievements below.
The field study carried out has shown that present day Madeira exhibits a politeness paradigm that resembles that of continental Portugal, but with a few divergences. Even though it possesses a tripartite system in singular and a bipartite one in plural, no archaic form whatsoever has been elicited and the pronoun você in singular has appeared very frequently. Nevertheless, this usage coexists with that of null subject and noun phrases for N situations, although every now and then it has also appeared in the addressing of someone in a higher position and more frequently in the addressing of someone in a lower position, when the relation between the participants was asymmetrical. In any case, there is a preference for the explicit subject rather than the avoidance thereof, irrespective of the choice for a pronoun or a noun phrase.
From a geolinguistic point of view, the main characteristic resides in the extension of the 3pl referring to vocês, for it has already shifted onto the accusative in the east and some parts of southern Madeira, while it is also attested in the dative in Porto Santo and other areas within populated areas of Madeira. It is in Funchal and its surroundings where the 3pl can also emerge in the possessive, completely ousting any remnance of 2pl.
The sociolinguistic study has revealed that men tend to employ você more and that the elderly are more inclined to consider the family as a hierarchical entity. However, pragmatic solidarity has increased in the plural, for vocês covers the majority of contexts to the detriment of os senhores. Likewise, the usage of vós for reverential contexts such as church is in clear disuse by favouring the resort to vocês, and the knowledge of the proper name of the interlocutor turns out to be essential in order to express a subject in situations where no pronoun is considered adequate.
From a grammatical perspective, the extension of the 3pl anchoring vocês follows a specific continuum that obeys cross-linguistic phenomena, but the establishment of the 3pl in the accusative seems to be brought about by phonetic reasons. Moreover, in si speakers have syncretised the pronoun to be employed in a prepositional phrase, regardless of whether it refers to você or o senhor.
I am deeply grateful to Professor Aline Bazenga, from University of Madeira, whose support has been crucial for the success of this research. Her commitment to finding informants and to making my stay as comfortable and productive as possible is priceless and will never be rewarded as deserved. This paper is dedicated to her and, last but not least, to all the people who took part directly and indirectly in the survey.
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