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Thaïs Cristófaro-Silva (UFMG-KCL) Christine Guedri (UFMG-UT) Leonardo Almeida (UFMG) - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Phonological traces in the loss of a plural marker in Brazilian Portuguese. Thaïs Cristófaro-Silva (UFMG-KCL) Christine Guedri (UFMG-UT) Leonardo Almeida (UFMG). The Loss of Plural Mark.

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Thaïs Cristófaro-Silva (UFMG-KCL) Christine Guedri (UFMG-UT) Leonardo Almeida (UFMG)

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Phonological traces in the loss of a plural marker in Brazilian Portuguese

Thaïs Cristófaro-Silva (UFMG-KCL)

Christine Guedri (UFMG-UT)

Leonardo Almeida (UFMG)

The Loss of Plural Mark

  • In Brazilian Portuguese the loss of plural mark occurs in nouns and adjectives:

    Regular Plural:

    • “os meninos bonitos” “os menino bonito”

      “the handsome boys”

    • “uns dias chuvosos” “uns dia chuvoso”

      “some rainy days”

      Irregular Plural:

    • “os leões” “os leão” “the lions”

    • “os anéis” “os anel” “the rings”

    • “as cores” “as cor” “the colors”

    • “os meses” “os mês” “the months”

Research Design

  • The experiment was held in Belo Horizonte, the third largest city in Brazil;

  • 8 subjects: 4 female and 4 male;

  • 2 age groups: less than 25 and over 40;

  • 2 education levels: University Educated and 8th Grade Education.

Structural Factors

  • Words ending in fricative [s];

  • Monosyllabic and disyllabic words;

  • Portuguese oral vowels:


  • Style: Elicitation, reading a word list, reading in context;

Words Selected

Lenited Forms

  • Lenition occurs where the high vowel in the plural marker [Is] is deleted and a series of two fricatives merge, for example the word for months:

    [mes+is] [mezIs] [mes]

Occurrence of Lenited Forms

  • Acoustic properties of the word itself, the duration of the primarily stressed vowel and the duration of the final sibilant were accessed. Acoustic analysis was carried out with PRAAT and statistical analysis with Matlab.

  • Tokens Evaluated:

    14 words x 3 speech styles x 8 subjects = 336 tokens

  • Lenition occurred in:

    101 of 336 tokens, corresponding to 30.1% of the words.

Lenition – Type of Vowel

Lenition – Type of Speech

  • This expresses lenition occurrence in the different speech styles.

Lenition – Token Frequency (1)

Lenition –Token Frequency (2)

Lenition – Token Frequency (3)

Lenghtening of Vowels and Fricatives

  • What are the consequences of lenition? Is a segment categorically lost and simply disappear? May it leave traces in the speech signal? We formulated the following hypothesis:

    H0: “Plural vowels and fricatives are longer than singular vowels and fricatives”

Distribution of Vowel and Fricatives Length

Gradualness in Change

  • Evidence has been offered for the gradual implementation of sound changes in the lexicon through patterns of lexical diffusion (Bybee, 2001).

  • A question which arises from this observation regards the nature of representations: are they categorical or gradient?

  • [SinezIs]

  • The word “Chinêses” (Chineses) without lenition.

Spectogram – “Chinêses” (1)

  • [SinezIs]

  • Word “Chinêses” (Chineses) with plural mark almost disappearing.

Spectogram – “Chinêses” (2)

  • [Sinezs]

  • Word “Chinêses” (Chineses) when lenition occurs.

Spectogram – “Chinêses” (3)

Spectogram – “Capuz”

Vowel – 123 ms

Fricative – 274 ms

Vowel – 135 ms

Fricative – 347 ms

  • Word “Capuz” (Hood) singular and plural for the same speaker


  • Lenition is very common in the plural of BP words with final –Vs, it ocurred in 30% of the studied cases.

  • Lenition is not related with final vowel or words being monosyllabic or disyllabic;

  • The loss of plural mark is directly correlated with the log frequency of the words;

  • Vowels and Fricatives get longer when lenition occurs;

  • Lenition in BP is a gradual process.



tais Cristófaro-Silva –

kRistin Guedri –

leonadU Almeida –

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