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Photo of Dr Susana Pinto Cavadas Afonso

Dr Susana Pinto Cavadas Afonso

Senior Lecturer in Portuguese


01392 724236


Research interests

Language contact, variation and change. Varieties of Portuguese 

I am currently approching from a Cognitive Linguistics and construction grammar point of view innovative morphosyntactic constructions in non-standard varieties of Portuguese. I am investigating what the properties of these constructions are and how they are organised in construction networks.

In connection with this, I collaborated on the project Convergence/Divergence between European and Brazilian Portuguese, led by Professor Augusto Soares da Silva (Catholic University, Portugal) and funded by the FCT - Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (2018-2019). A major publication on the emergent reflexive and related constructions (se constructions) in Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese has been published in Cognitive Linguistics.

In the context of the non-European, non-standard varieties of Portuguese, I have investigated innovations, particularly at the morphosyntactic level, observed in the Portuguese spoken in Timor Leste (East Timor) and to what extent these can correspond to the initial stages of an emerging variety of Portuguese. In connection with this research as well as collaborative research on the East Timorese immigrant communities, I was a member of the Leverhulme funded international network 'Shifting Sociolinguistic Realities in the Nation of East Timor and its Diasporas'.

Similar phenomena is also observed in other non-standard varieties of Portuguese, hence I interested in the interplay between contact-induced phenomena and general processes of second language acquisition. I have published a chapter 'Portuguese as a transnational language" in the edited volume Transnational Portuguese studies.

I am currently working on a pilot project which corresponds to the first stage of a mapping exercise of the recently established Portuguese-speaking community in Newham. The mapping exercise will focus on the different sub-groups of the community, their migration trajectories, the languages spoken and their contexts of use and their involvement in organising community-level groups. Final-year students are involved in the project which is funded by the Alumni Fund. 

Science communication in informal education contexts (museums)

This is an interdisciplinary and collaborative work with Dr Ana Afonso (University of Minho) which aims at analysing the conversations between the visitors and between them and the museum guides in order to understand visitors' conceptualizations of  scientific (and other) phenomena and how these conceptualizations differ (or not) from the scientific concepts. Also important are museum guides' conceptualizations of the scientific phenomena they communicate to visitors through the use of conventional conceptual metaphors.

We are currently collaborating with the Galeria da biodiversidade (Hall of Biodiversity, University of Porto), investigating how visitors interact with each other during the visit to the gallery, and we have recently started collaboration with a Mobile Science Museum in Brazil. 

Research supervision

I am open to dicsussing research proposals in any relevant subject given my research expertise. I am especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in the following areas:

- varieties of Portuguese (language contact, variation and change) 

- language planning and language policy in the Portuguese-speaking world

- Cognitive Linguistics (Construction Grammar, metaphor theory) and applications of Cognitive Linguistics in different fields (science, journalism, education, etc.), involving principally, but not structly limited to, Portuguese (e.g. Spanish and English could be considered).

Other information


Conference papers (since 2006)



[with Goglia, F.] "Language choice and language contact among different generations of the East-Timorese diasporic community in Portugal". MIMS: Multilingual Individuals in Multilingual Societies (Hamburg 5-8 October 2010)

[with Goglia, F.] "Patterns of multilingualism among different generations of the East-Timorese diasporic community in Portugal". Pluricentric Languages: Linguistic Variation and Sociocognitive Dimensions. (Braga 15-17 September 2010)


"The conceptualisation of impersonals".  Global Languages, local languages. 42nd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (Lisbon, 9-12 September 2009)


“Functional shifts in constructions”. Linguistics and English Language Seminar Series, The University of Manchester (Manchester, 12th February 2008)


“As construções impessoais em português numa perspectiva onomasiológica”. XXIII Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística (Évora, Portugal, 1-3 October 2007)

“The role of context in language and perception”. NDCL: 2nd UK Cognitive Linguistics Association Conference (Cardiff, 27-30 August 2007)

“Impersonal constructions in European Portuguese: an onomasiological perspective”. Parasession on Passives, Reflexives, Impersonals and Related Constructions. (Sopot, Poland, 12-13 July 2007)


“Existentials as impersonalising devices: the case of European Portuguese”. ICCG4: Fourth International Construction Grammar Conference (Tokyo, 1-3 September 2006)


I convene modules mainly on language variation and change, including contact between languages (mainly involving Portuguese), an area of my academic research. I also convene a module on the relationship between language, culture and the mind, inspired by cognitive linguistics.

I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Modules taught

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