Aims of the project

It is our view that previous initiatives to combat linguistic prejudice have failed due to an underestimation of the widespread and ingrained nature of linguistic prejudices, the lack of a well-defined strategy to combat these prejudices and a reliance on challenging them via pure statement in which it is hoped that the public will appreciate the expert knowledge of linguists about language

Our view is that one viable route to combat linguistic prejudice and discrimination is via knowledge and understanding of why and how the different varieties of Portuguese, including the standard, evolved in Brazil. The aim is to explain such changes with reference to (a) general linguistic trends related to shared human cognitive and linguistic abilities and observable in other Indo-European languages and (b) (when appropriate and relevant) to socio-historical factors (see Faraco 2017).  Knowledge of the origin of different spoken varieties of Brazilian Portuguese  and how they evolved, in contrast to the evolution of the Brazilian standard, and in contrast to the evolution of the standards in other prestigious European languages, can help people understand that certain features present in the Portuguese spoken in Brazil are not inherently bad but merely different and such features are shared by many different international and prestigious languages. Language, like race, religion, sexuality or even haircut style, is a human variable. Variables are sensitive to being associated with some type of social meaning or stereotyping, independently of any inherent or intrinsic qualities of the variable.

The specific questions that our research seeks to address are:

  • What are the features of spoken Brazilian-Portuguese which are most discriminated against?
  • How can recent developments in understanding language change and variation combat this?
  • How can linguists engage with policy makers and non-academic partners to disseminate their research and have a lasting impact on matters of linguistic prejudice, especially within education?