CARDS - Unknown Letters

PTDC/LIN/64472/2006 - Linguística
Funding institution
FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Project PI
Rita Marquilhas


  • The physical survival of personal manuscripts from the period of 1500-1900 is a largely unknown fact. People tend to imagine that old personal writings, which are fragile documents containing intimate texts, were normally destroyed either by those who wrote them or by the ones who received or inherited them. Only when the papers belonged to prestiged authors was there a context that favoured conservation. However, some personal papers written by common people were instrumental to the Crown Justice or the Inquisition Justice, since they were good judicial proof. In those cases, the personal documents received a special archival treatment and we can find them today by the thousands, kept in the middle of other judicial papers. The project of publishing precisely some of these writings, originally written by common people -- or by privileged people in common moments --, is the aim of CARDS, within the larger scope of studying linguistic artifacts produced in contexts of close interaction. A team was constituted with researchers coming from different backgrounds: philology, linguistics and cultural history. The CARDS project would offer to the public the electronic edition of 2.000 personal letters from the XVth to the XIXth century. The edition was enriched by historical and linguistic keywords and monographies on the following topics:

  • SYNTAX: the history of Classical and Modern Portuguese with respect to clitic placement and clitic doubling, topic/focus constructions, relative pronouns and relative clauses, impersonal and passive structures with the clitic pronoun, infinitival and gerund clauses, negation and negative indefinites, subject-verb agreement.

  • PHONOLOGY: the history of assimilation/dissimilation processes and the history of the unstressed vowel system in Classical and Modern Portuguese dialects.

  • PRAGMATICS: the communicative force of graphic uses.

  • CULTURAL HISTORY: templates, normative discourse and letter practices during Modern and Early Contemporary Ages.

  • SOCIO-POLITICAL HISTORY: strategies of social mobility and social affirmation, reactions to political change and political facts: the rise and fall of the Philipine dinasty, the Restauration War, Pombalism, the French Invasions, the crisis of the Old regime, the Liberal revolutions and the Civil Wars.