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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

Photo of Dr Susana Pinto Cavadas Afonso

Dr Susana Pinto Cavadas Afonso

Senior Lecturer in Portuguese


01392 724236


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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. 

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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).

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2024 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2015 | 2012 | 2008 | 2007 |



  • Afonso AS, Pinto Cavadas Afonso S, Simões A, González AC. (2022) Challenges of science communication in a mobile museum". In Fostering scientific citizenship in an uncertain world, Fostering scientific citizenship in an uncertain world. Part 9: Environmental, health and outdoor science education, 679-686.
  • Pinto Cavadas Afonso S, Afonso AS. (2022) Conceptual metaphors in astronomers’ discourses, Fostering scientific citizenship in an uncertain world. Part 7: Discourse and Argumentation in Science Education. Proceedings of ESERA 2021 online conference, 516-521.
  • Pinto Cavadas Afonso S, Afonso AS, Lopes A, Gonzalez ACDS. (2022) What science communication for equitable communication? From conceptualizations to reconceptualizations and practices, Curator: The Museum Journal, DOI:10.1111/cura.12502.



  • Afonso S. (2020) Portuguese as a Transnational Language, Transnational Portuguese Studies, Liverpool University Press, 149-165.


  • Afonso S, Afonso AS, Rodrigues F. (2019) Towards an effective use of language to explain light in the museum, Science Education, volume 103, no. 4, pages 923-946, DOI:10.1002/sce.21517.
  • Pinto Cavadas Afonso S, Afonso AS. (2019) Accessing science museum educators' discourse through Multimodal Narratives, Multimodal Narratives in Research and Teaching Practices, IGI Global, 340-355.




  • Afonso S. (2008) The Family of Impersonal Constructions in European Portuguese. An Onomasiological Constructional Approach. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Manchester.
  • Afonso S. (2008) A gramática de construções: breve introdução e aplicação, Revista Portuguesa de Humanidades, volume 12, pages 393-412.
  • Afonso S. (2008) Existential constructions as impersonalising devices: the case of European Portuguese, Transactions of the Philological Society, volume 106, no. 2, pages 180-215.


  • Barreiro A, Afonso S. (2007) "Construção da lista dourada para as primeiras morfolimpíadas do português", Avaliação conjunta: um novo paradigma no processamento computacional da língua portuguesa, IST Press, 107-118.

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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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