Não temos o que perder. Negação na forma e significado da construção terPRON INF
The paper offers a cognitive linguistic analysis of the construction terPRON INF (as in Não têm onde construir o hospital). The construction is shown to have a preference for negative uses, reminiscent of negative polarity items (NPIs). This behavior is argued to be an iconic reflection of the construction’s form, distinct from similar constructions such as the relative clause construction or uses involving indefinite pronouns (Não tenho nada a dizer). The construction’s semantic content is analyzed as that of expressing ‘incapacity’. These properties of the construction are discussed in the context of idiosyncrasy and arbitrariness, widely assumed to underlie form-meaning pairings. The present study suggests that the construction
is not arbitrary, but largely iconic and predictable.