Colonização lingüística investigates linguistic identity in Brazil, during the Portuguese colonization. The book discusses the extent of the influence of the língua geral1 on Brazilian Portuguese and on Brazil. The língua geral gradually became the main language spoken in Brazil until the 18th-century. It is considered to be a language based on the indigenous language Tupinambá, namely the ancient Tupi.2 Orlandi (Nanterre: CRL, 1996; cited in Mariani, 22) calls the língua geral an "imaginary language," a "Jesuitic" Tupi, with which I can only agree. The Jesuits wrote a grammar of the língua geral, originally intended to catechize the Indians and to teach it to other Jesuits either during their missions in Brazil or before they left Europe.
According to Mariani, her book draws into her experience as a member of the project História das idéias lingüísticas: A construção de um saber metalingüístico e a constituição da língua nacional, which started in 1991, as a consortium of two Brazilian and one French universities: Universidade de São Paulo, Unicamp and École Normale Supérieur de Fontenay-aux-roses.
Colonização lingüística is divided into five chapters. In chapter 1, "Colonização lingüística," Mariani revisits Calvet (Paris: Payot, 1974)3 to elaborate her own concept of "linguistic colonization," within her line of work in the "history of linguistic ideas" (25–33). Chapter 2, "Novos territórios e línguas desconhecidas," firstly presents her framework for discourse analysis (40–45) based on the works of Michel Pêcheux and Eni P. Orlandi. Then, it analyses the discourse of the initial colonial period taking into account the birth of Portugal as a nation in terms of its linguistic memory from Latin to Portuguese. The last part uses a similar approach to describe the situation of Peninsular Portuguese in terms of the other languages on the Brazilian territory. In Chapter 3, "A questão das línguas e os discursos da colonização," the book analyses the discourse of colonial texts in an attempt to understand the linguistic confrontration of the languages of Brazil. Chapter 4, "Línguas, política e religião," describes the implementation of Portuguese as the official language of Brazil, and the role of the key actor in this process during the 18th-century, the Marquis of Pombal; Chapter 5, "Inglês e português: duas diferentes línguas de colonização" concludes the book with a comparison of the linguistic colonization in the US and Brazil.
Mariani's work is of course a monumental enterprise which should be praised [End Page 161] for its ambitious effort, but also read with some reservation, because a project of this proportion has a potential for shortcomings. Mariani analyses the origins of Brazilian Portuguese as a network of elements interrelated in the makeup of natural languages, viz. nation, languages in contact, church and state, language memory, language history, culture, literature, social and the political factors. However, probably for fear of falling into an atomistic analysis, Mariani does not study the morpho-syntax and phonology of the Brazilian Portuguese language from that time period. In addition to her study of language as a network of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors, Mariani focuses on discourse analysis to explain the use of indeterminate "subject" and lexicon in colonial texts. The term "subject" is used in her investigation as a general term for grammatical subject, semantic subject (i.e. the actor or agent) and the epistemological subject. In Mariani's interpretation, this indetermination of the subject can be linked to the formation of Brazil as a nation and the origins of Brazilian Portuguese as a language.
To counter Mariani's thinking, a different way of explaining the use of indeterminate grammatical subject in the colonial texts is to interpret its use as a simple marginalization of the actor, i.e. the semantic subject, because...