Ongoing Research Projects

The members of LTE group are actively involved in a wide range of research on theoretical and experimental linguistics.  This page gives an overview over ongoing work.

Project 1:  Pro-drop and null arguments from a cross-linguistic perspective

Broadly speaking, our research aims to uncover the cross-linguistic distribution and properties of null arguments in finite clauses. Most research in this domain has been carried out by Pilar Barbosa, but joint ventures are under way:

  • Online study of the interpretation of third person singular null subjects in embedded clauses in two varieties of Portuguese: European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

Researchers involved: Pilar Barbosa (UM), José Ferrari (UFPB), Márcio Leitão (UFPB), Maria do Carmo Lourenço-Gomes (UM), Eloísa Pilati (UFB).

While European Portuguese is a consistent null subject language, Brazilian Portuguese is arguably a partial null subject language (Holmberg 2005). The possibility of assigning a generic (inclusive) interpretation to a plain third person null subject has been taken as a characteristic feature of partial null subject languages as opposed to the consistent null subject languages (Holmberg 2005, Barbosa 2013).). In this study, an online self-paced reading experiment has been designed to test the interpretation of third person singular null subjects in embedded clauses in Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese.

Outcomes thus far:

Pilati, Eloisa, Leitão, Márcio and Ferrari Neto, José (2019) Cisão do paragdigma flexional em PB e a emergência de sujeitos locativos: analisando dados experimentais.  Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Maceió. (02-09 May 2019).

Barbosa, Pilar ‘O sujeito nulo definido das línguas de sujeito nulo parcial como anáfora sujeito’. Paper presented at XXXV Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Instituto de Educação, Universidade do Minho, Braga (9-11 October 2019).


Barbosa, Pilar (2019) pro as a Minimal nP: Toward a Unified Approach to Pro-Drop. Linguistic Inquiry, 50-3, pp. 487-526

Project 2:  Infinitival complements and their subjects

This research project aims at looking at subject realization in infinitival complements.  European Portuguese is a null subject language and it features inflected as well as uninflected infinitives. Thus, it is an excellent testing ground for theories of null versus overt subject licensing in infinitival clauses. Current projects in this broad area include:

  • Subject realization in infinitival complements of perception verbs (bi-clausal contexts)

Researchers involved: Sílvia Araújo, Pilar Barbosa, Cristina Flores, Maria do Carmo Lourenço-Gomes.

In infinitival complements of perception verbs the subject may be Nominative or Accusative depending on a number of factors. We seek to determine speakers’ preferences for choice of Case on the subject and how these interact with phi-feature agreement on the infinitive.


Barbosa, Pilar;  Araújo, Sílvia; Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo  & Flores, Cristina (in preparation).  Subject realization in infinitival complements of perception verbs in European Portuguese,

Barbosa, Pilar; Flores, Cristina & Pereira, Cátia (2018). On subject realization in infinitival complements of causative and perception verbs in European Portuguese. Evidence from monolingual and bilingual speakers. In P. Guijarro-Fuentes & A. Cuza (eds.), Language Acquisition and Contact in the Iberian Peninsula. Mouton de Gruyter, pp.125-158.


Barbosa, Pilar; Flores, Cristina; Araújo, Sílvia  & Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo : “Complementos oracionais infinitivos de verbos percetivos: realização casual do sujeito e padrões de concordância”, Paper presented at XXXIV Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Universidade Aberta, Lisboa (26 – 28 September 2018).

Barbosa, Pilar; Araújo, Sílvia; Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo & Flores, Cristina:  “Ainda sobre os complementos oracionais infinitivos de verbos percetivos. O papel da pessoa gramatical”, Paper presented at XXXV Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Instituto de Educação, Universidade do Minho, Braga (9-11 October 2019)

  • Can the null subject of inflected infinitives be obligatorily controlled?

Researcher involved: Pilar Barbosa

In recent years, it has been proposed that there are languages in which there are two kinds of obligatory control (OC), the familiar type of control that is attested in non-inflected, Caseless infinitives, and a new type of control, found in inflected infinitives in which the null subject has Case (Modesto 2010, Sheehan 2014). We examine the evidence given in favor of the claim that the subject of inflected infinitives may be obligatorily controlled and we argue that there are no reasons to posit this new kind of OC, at least not on the basis of EP. The cases that fall under this new species of OC can all be explained as instances of (accidental) coreference.


Barbosa, Pilar (2017) Os infinitivos flexionados de “controlo parcial” são casos de controlo obrigatório? In XXXIII Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Universidade de Évora, 29 / 10 / 2017.

Barbosa, Pilar “Partial Control” inflected infinitives are not obligatorily controlled. Olomouc Linguistics Colloquium (OLINCO), Olomouc, República Checa, 1 / 2 / 2018.

Barbosa, Pilar. Alleged partially controlled inflected infinitives. Workshop on Cross-linguistic variation in control phenomena, 41st Meeting of the German Linguistics Society, 6-8 / 3 / 2019.

  • Overt subject realization in raising and control complements

Researcher involved: Pilar Barbosa

Relying on the observation that many consistent Null Subject Languages (NSL) allow for explicit subjects in raising and control complements, we seek to develop an account that aims to capture the association between this phenomenon and the null subject property.


Barbosa, Pilar (2018) Controlled overt pronouns as specificational predicates. In Santos, Ana Lúcia & Anabela Gonçalves (eds), Complement Clauses in Portuguese: Syntax and Acquisition. Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 129–186.


Barbosa, Pilar.  Controlled overt pronouns as specificational predicates. Talk presented at IGG 43 – 43rd Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, IUSS Pavia, February 14, 2017.

Overt subjects of raising and control infinitives in the consistent null subject languages: the status of Agr and the mode of composition of subject, Talk presented at

– Workshop on nonfinite subjects, University of Nantes, April 1, 2016

– Colóquio de Gramática Generativa 26, Universidade de Caceres, April 14 (keynote).


Project 3:  Multiple dependencies in the left-periphery

Researchers involved: Pilar Barbosa, Cecile deCat (ULeeds), Sílvia Araújo, Maria do Carmo Lourenço Gomes, Cecília Castro, Emilia Athayde

This project focuses on the interaction between different types of filler-gap dependencies, namely wh-movement and Clitic Left Dislocation (CLLD). In particular, it looks at the restrictions imposed on embedding a CLLDed topic within the domain of wh-movement. So far, experimental evidence has been drawn from French and European Portuguese and curious asymmetries have been detected: (i) sentences containing CLLDed topics that correspond to the highest argument in the clause (a subject or a dative experiencer) are judged significantly better than sentences containing CLLDed objects or dative goals; in the latter case, judgements improve when the clitic is omitted (if at all possible).


Barbosa, P., & De Cat, C. (2019). Intervention effects in wh-chains: the combined effect of syntax and processing. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics4(1), 127. DOI:

Barbosa, Pilar, Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo; Araújo, Sílvia; Castro, Cecília  & Athayde, Emília (submitted). Constraints on Multiple dependencies in the left−periphery in European Portuguese.


Barbosa, Pilar &  De Cat, Cecília. Subject-object asymmetries in French clitic left-dislocation. Talk presented at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, Oxford University,  1-5 / 9 / 2014.

Barbosa, Pilar, Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo & Araújo, Sílvia. Dependências múltiplas na periferia esquerda. Talk presented at the XXXIII Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Universidade de Évora, 29 / 10 / 2017.

Project 4:  An empirical, cross-language analysis on the acquisition of Portuguese and Polish in monolingual and bilingual settings

This project intends to compare the development of Portuguese and Polish, two null object languages, in two different settings: 1) in monolingual acquisition settings; 2) as heritage languages acquired in Germany (in contact with German). We aim at answering the question whether Portuguese and Polish monolinguals and bilingual children acquire pragmatic and referential conditions on object use in a comparable way.

Researchers involved: Cristina Flores, Esther Rinke (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt), Aldona Sopata (University of Poznan / Poland).


Rinke, Esther, Flores, Cristina & Sopata, Aldona (2019). Heritage Portuguese and Heritage Polish in Contact with German. More Evidence on the Production of Objects. Languages, 4(3), 53.


Esther Rinke, Cristina Flores & Aldona Sopata: “Expressão do objeto em Português e Polaco como Línguas de Herança em contacto com o Alemão”, Paper presented at XXXV Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Instituto de Educação, Universidade do Minho, Braga (9-11 October 2019).

Esther Rinke, Cristina Flores & Aldona Sopata:  “The acquisition of objects by Portuguese and Polish heritage bilinguals in contact with German”. Paper presented at GALA – Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition 14, University of Milano/BICOCCA, Italy (12 – 14. September 2019).

Esther Rinke, Cristina Flores & Aldona Sopata: “Heritage Portuguese and Heritage Polish in contact with German. More evidence on the production of objects”. Paper presented at the Workshop on Age Effects in Bilingual Language Acquisition, Poznań, Poland (7-8 March 2019).

Project 5: The bilingual competence of Lusophone children living in Switzerland

This project is carried out in Switzerland in collaboration with the Camões Institute (Coordenação de Português na Suiça) and aims at assessing the linguistic competence of child heritage speakers of Portuguese living in different areas of Switzerland in contact with different majority languages (German, French, Italian). Using a written retelling task, a cloze test and detailed parental questionnaire, we are testing 8 to 14 years old children in both their languages. The results from the linguistic tasks will be correlated with the extralinguistic variables collected through the questionnaire in order to evaluate the effect of diverse input factors, of different language combinations and of different linguistic domains on the children’s language competence. Data collection ongoing.

Researchers involved: Cristina Flores, Esther Rinke & Jacopo Torregrossa (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt), Liliana Correia, Maria de Lurdes Gonçalves (Instituto Camões)

Project 6:  Language Attrition in bilingual returnees

This project is a follow-up study of the FCT project Portuguese-German Bilingualism in the European Context and aims at analyzing attrition effects in bilingual returnees.

Researcher involved: Cristina Flores

Recent publications

Flores, Cristina (2019). Attrition and reactivation of a childhood language. The case of returnee heritage speakers. Language Learning. Special Issue on Different perspectives on critical factors in heritage language development and maintenance, ed. by Cristina Flores, Ayşe Gürel, & Michael Putnam.

Flores, Cristina (in press, 2019). Language development of bilingual returnees. M. Schmid & B.Köpke (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 493-501. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198793595.013.39

Flores, Cristina (2017). Problematizing the scope of language attrition from the perspective of bilingual returnees. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 7(6), 691–695. DOI: 10.1075/lab.00006.flo

Recent Talks

Cristina Flores: “How stable is an early-acquired language? Predictors of language attrition in situations of loss of input”, Bilingualism in the Hispanic and Lusophone World, University of Leiden / Netherlands (9 – 11 January 2019)

Other recent publications and talks on Heritage Bilingualism


Flores, Cristina, Gürel, Ayse & Putnam, Michael T. (2019). Different Perspectives on Critical Factors in Heritage Language Development and Maintenance. Language Learning

Flores, Cristina & Rinke, Esther (2019). The relevance of language-internal variation in predicting heritage language grammars. Bilingualism. Language and Cognition.

Rinke, Esther, Flores, Cristina & Santos, Ana Lúcia (2019). Heritage languages at school: Implications of linguistic research on bilingualism for heritage language teaching. In C. Gabriel, J. Grünke & S. Thiele (eds.) (2019). Romanische Sprachen in ihrer Vielfalt: Brückenschläge zwischen linguistischer Theoriebildung und Fremdsprachenunterricht (Romanische Sprachen und ihre Didaktik). Stuttgart: ibidem, pp. 211-232.

Flores, Cristina, Santos, Ana Lúcia, Almeida, Letícia, Jesus, Alice & Marques, Rui (2019). Portuguese as a Heritage Language in contact with German and French: a comparative study on the acquisition of verbal mood. In I. Feldhausen, M. Elsig, I. Kuchenbrandt & M. Neuhaus (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 15. Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’ 30, Frankfurt. [RLLT 15]  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 35-52.

Flores, Cristina (2019). Bilinguismo infantil. Um legado valioso do fenómeno migratório luso-alemão. Diacrítica. Thematic Issue on Immigration, refugees and the Humanities: Critical engagements with new challenges/opportunities.

Some recent talks (2019)

Cristina Flores: “O que o desenvolvimento bilingue nos diz sobre a nossa faculdade da linguagem”, Plenary talkat IV Congreso de Hispanistas y Lusitanistas Nórdicos, Universidade Complutense de Madrid (29-30 October 2019).

Cristina Flores: “The role of language-internal and language-external factors in predicting heritage language grammars. Empirical findings from Portuguese as Heritage Language”. Invited talk at Journée d’étude sur les langues d’héritage / Workshop on Heritage Languages. CNRS-Pouchet, Paris (24 September 2019).

Cristina Flores: “Moving toward a deeper understanding of heritage language development. Some contributions from research on (European) Portuguese as Heritage Language”. Invited talk at UMass Amherst. Spanish and Portuguese Department (25 April 2019).

Cristina Flores: “Portraying bilingual heritage speakers”. Invited talk at Portuguese Department and Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at UMass Dartmouth (24 April 2019).

Cristina Flores: “Which factors affect the development of a Heritage Language? Empirical findings from Portuguese as Heritage Language in contact with German, French and Spanish”, Pleanry talk at XXII. Deutscher Hispanistentag, FU Berlin, Berlin / Alemanha (28 March 2019).

Cristina Flores: “Crescer com duas línguas: Reflexões sobre as particularidades da aquisição bilingue por falantes luso-Descendentes no contexto alemão”. Invited talk at Colóquio O ensino Português na Alemanha no Ensino Básico e Secundário. Que futuro?, Consulado de Portugal em Stuttgart, org. Coordenação do Português na Alemanha/Instituto Camões (9 Febr 2019).

Cristina Flores: “How stable is an early-acquired language? Predictors of language attrition in situations of loss of input”, Bilingualism in the Hispanic and Lusophone World, University of Leiden / Países Baixos (9 – 11 Jan 2019)

Project 7:  Assessing participants’ actions and time in performing acceptability judgment tasks through a dedicated web-based application*

This project is a step forward in dealing with a limitation concerning acceptability judgment data: they only reflect the participants’ final responses, ignoring other aspects of the process during task completion. To address this issue, we propose a complementary procedure to assess subject performance through different acceptability judgment tasks. The subjects’ activities are assessed on the basis of two parameters – actions (choosing, changing and submitting an answer) and time spent on each action through a web-based application designed for the study. The outcomes will be of direct interest to theoretical and experimental linguistics alike, promoting a better understanding of the participants’ decision-making process in experimental paradigms that are necessary and useful to both strands of linguistic research.

* Starting in 2019-05-02. Accepted for funding in September 2018 (FCT-CEECIND/04331/2017).

Researcher involved: Maria do Carmo Lourenço-Gomes

Related talks (2019)

Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo. (2019) Uma ferramenta para o estudo da escrita e das correspondências fala-escrita de crianças em fases iniciais de escolaridade. Conferência. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Linguística e Laboratório de Processamento da Linguagem. Universidade Federal da Paraíba. João Pessoa, Brasil. 08 Outubro 2019.

Lourenço-Gomes, Maria do Carmo (2019) Uma ferramenta implementada na web para a análise qualitativa e quantitativa do desempenho em compreensão da linguagem de crianças e adultos. Conferência. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Linguística e Laboratório de Processamento da Linguagem. Universidade Federal da Paraíba. João Pessoa, Brasil. 09 Outubro 2019.

Project 8:  On the nature of *pro in Kaiowá and Aché — A text-based study of macro-parametric language change.

Researcher involved:  Eva-Maria Roessler

This project aims at studying the nature of pro-drop configurations  in  two Tupi-Guaraní (TG) languages. Pro-drop patterns found in Kaiowá (Guaraní) will be compared with the pro licensing system in Aché; a strongly restructured contact language (Roessler, 2008, 2015, 2018). Kaiowá exhibits the TG-typical agglutinating morphological profile, featuring, for instance, rich subject and object agreement, inverse alignment and a person-hierarchy 1P> 2P> 3P (Payne, 1994; Freitas, 2011; Oxford, 2015, 2017; Zubizarreta and Pancheva, 2017). This language allows for a diverse set of null arguments in a system I call Person—Split Pro-Drop (Roessler 2018).

Aché, by contrast, underwent complete erosion of verbal agreement due to language contact, it shows an overall isolating morphological surface (Roessler 2015, 2018). Aché is a radical pro-drop language, a null argument pattern common among East Asian languages (Huang, 1989). In text-based research, this project adds to recent debates regarding the nature of pro as discussed in diachronic syntax and parameter theory (Roberts 2007, Biberauer et al 2010, Barbosa 2014, 2018).

 Previous publications

Roessler, Eva-Maria. in press [2019]. Differential Marking and Object Scrambling in the Guaraní Language Cluster. In: Irimia, Monica Alexandrinha and Pineda, Anna (eds) Differential objects and dative: A homophonous class?, International Journal of Linguistics and Language Resources. Lingvisticæ Investigationes 42:1, John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 32–55.

Roessler, Eva-Maria. 2015. Inflectional Morphology Restructuring in Aché – Discussing Grammar Change and Language Contact. Boletim do Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Ciências Humanas. Belem do Pará; Brazil.