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Meet André Zampaulo

Bringing Passion, "Pasión" and "Paixão" to Linguistics

Sept. 5, 2014

André Zampaulo's last name sounds strangely close to the name of his home city of Sao Paulo, but it's actually a Portuguese version of an Italian last name — Zanni Paolo — whose correct spelling got lost in translation when his great-grandfather arrived in Brazil in the 19th century. The result, he says, "is a mix of phonetics, production, perception, foreign languages and orthography."

The assistant professor of modern languages and literatures started learning other languages, including English and Spanish, at an early age. Besides his native Portuguese, he has a particular fondness for Spanish linguistics — "but within linguistics, phonetics, phonology, dialectology and historical linguistics," he adds.

Zampaulo received a bachelor's degree in translation studies, specializing in English, Portuguese and Spanish, at Sao Paulo State University. After spending his last semester at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, he stayed there for his master's degree in Spanish, then earned his doctorate in Spanish linguistics at Ohio State University.

"Being a native speaker of Portuguese, there is no way not to compare Portuguese sounds with Spanish sounds because they are very similar languages — at first. And you start to compare the sounds that each language has and how you have a lot of holes in the sound system of each language. Spanish has these sounds, but Portuguese does not. And Portuguese has these other sounds, but Spanish does not," he explains. "Then you start studying how these two languages evolved. And you start realizing how they were even more similar back in the day. And due to many non-linguistic reasons — and linguistic reasons, too — they started to diverge over time.

"So I decided to apply my passion for the sounds and how they're produced and how they vary in the dialects of today, but connecting this variation to how Spanish, Portuguese and other related languages have evolved. Therefore, the history of how they evolved over time."

Before arriving at Cal State Fullerton, Zampaulo taught at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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