Edited by Benjamin Fagard, José Pinto De Lima and Dejan Stosic
[Revue Romane 54:1] 2019
► pp. 126–140
On grammaticalized complex prepositions in Portuguese
Deployment, shift, redundancy, complementation
Some complex prepositions (CPs) have long stories of grammaticalization behind them. In Portuguese, such is the case of the CPs that have started from simple elements such as ante or trás. In the present paper, I will observe the changes that have given rise to present-day Pt diante de, perante, atrás de, detrás de, among other complex formations. It will be seen that spatial signaling (place or direction) plays an important role on the development of these prepositions, but that a tendency to neutralization of semantic differences may lead more recent forms to convey meanings already expressed by older forms, which in turn may spur the emergence of even more complex formations (de diante de, por detrás de, …). Increased complexity, however, seems to bring redundancy with it, a fact that calls for a satisfactory explanation. The complexification process is accompanied by context extension, from spatial to the temporal, and from these to more abstract realms (cause, condition, circumstance, …). As is to be expected from prepositions that are frequently used, they compete with other units, with which they may at first be in a complementary relation, but whose affinities in distribution and meaning may cause their replacement in the long run (diante de versus em face de, face a). Finally, another important phenomenon concerning these formations is their capacity to expand beyond their category, giving rise to morphologically related nouns and verbs.