Construções reflexiva, recíproca e média de clítico nulo no português brasileiro: reconceptualização de eventos e emergência de uma nova construção

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Portuguese se constructions, posited in the transitive continuum, have a constructional counterpart in which the clitic is absent. The null clitic construction, observed in all the se constructions (i.e. reflexive, reciprocal, middle, anticausative, passive and impersonal) is more frequently used in Brazilian Portuguese (BP) than in European Portuguese (EP). The phenomenon has largely been studied from a morphosyntatic lens or as a result of an ongoing deletion of clitics in BP, shying away from the possible implications in terms of the semantic differentiation between overt and null se constructions. This chapter focuses on reflexive, reciprocal and middle se constructions and aims to investigate what factors determine the choice between overt se constructions and their null counterpart. Based on an extensive usage-feature and profile-based analysis, and using multivariate statistical methods, we show that reflexive, reciprocal and middle null se constructions are associated with a reconceptualization of an event as non-energetic or absolute, profiling the result of the event. On the other hand, the overt counterpart profiles the moment of change, construing the event as energetic. Reflexive and reciprocal constructions are more frequently encoded by an overt se construction whereas middle construction (in all its subcategories) is more frequently encoded by the null se construction. The study concludes that null reflexive, reciprocal and middle se constructions are new constructions semantically differentiated from overt se constructions, which, we argue, has wider implications, namely for reconceptualization of voice patterns in BP which tend towards ergativization.
Original languagePortuguese
Pages (from-to)151-186
Number of pages36
Journal Linguística : Revista de Estudos Linguísticos da Universidade do Porto
Issue numberEspecial
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Reflexive/reciprocal construction
  • Middle construction
  • Null clitic
  • Absolute construction
  • Cognitive grammar
  • Brazilian Portuguese

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