The Study of Word Order of a Specific Utterance
Syntactic knowledge is a rule-based system, which
accounts for ambiguity or multiple meanings in sentences.
It also accounts for sentence and phrase structure (Fromkin,
Rodman & Hyams, 2003). When comparing English with Portuguese,
word order in English (sentence or phrase) is far more predictable
than Portuguese. Câmara (1972) explains that in Portuguese:
- Word order is more flexible than in some other languages,
- that the last member of an utterance has the greatest
Câmara (1972) uses the following examples to illustrate
how one expression may have different meanings and emphasis
simply by changing the word order.
|Examples of Varied
Meaning Through Change of Word Order
Eu saio às três horas.
||(The time when I leave is three
Às três horas eu saio.
||(What I do at three o’clock
|Version three: Às
três horas saio eu.
||(The person who leaves at three
o’clock is me).
This same principle is applicable to the relative placement
of adjectives and nouns within noun phrases. According to
the same author, an adjective may be either placed before
(pre-posed) or after (post-posed) the noun
it modifies, but the latter is the most common pattern, while
in English, it is consistently pre-posed (“the big house”
not “house big”).
Thus, text predictability of such syntactic characteristics
of the Portuguese language needs to be considered by educators
when evaluating syntax-influenced miscues from speakers of