Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to present a contrastive analysis of three high frequency words, sempre ‘always’, mesmo ‘even/really’, and bem ‘well’, in order to inform the instruction of Brazilian Portuguese speakers in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom. This work is largely inspired by Ambar, (2008) who compares these same three adverbs’ semantic and syntactic expression in European and Brazilian Portuguese. A multifactorial approach (Costa, 2004) to the analysis of these English/Brazilian Portuguese words demonstrates how the syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning) are inextricably linked and interdependent. While this paper focuses on adverbs, the analysis extends to include the analysis of mesmo as intensifier and adjective in order to clarifying this issue for English language instruction. The findings reveal that in order for Portuguese speakers to avoid common errors influenced by their first language (L1), they will need to understand these syntax-semantic relationships. For example, sempre ‘always’ in Portuguese allows an additional ‘correlation of events’ interpretation, four distinct interpretations of mesmo ‘really/even’ in Portuguese translate to four different English words, and an evaluative reading of bem ‘well’ requires a change in emphasis and intonation in English. A discussion of these results suggests that pedagogical practices which focus on both form and meaning are key for successful adverb use by second language learners.

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