12. The Portugese inflected infinitive and its conceptual basis
This paper offers a conceptual analysis of the Portuguese inflected (or personal) infinitive. The analysis makes use of a few concepts of Cognitive Grammar. The inflected infinitive is described as an <i>objective </i>construal of the main participant of a process type. This conceptual import is consistent with the grammatical behavior of the inflected infinitive. After giving an overview of the structural properties of the inflected infinitive in modern Portuguese, the paper will describe the continuum of event asymmetry in which the inflected infinitival clause holds an intermediate position between the subordinate finite clause and the infinitival clause. The meaning of the inflected infinitive is therefore characterized by <i>imagery </i>dimensions that are specific to subordinate constructions, namely independence, specificity, grounding, prominence and objectivity/subjectivity. Finally, some aspects relating to the distribution of inflected infinitival (complement, adverbial and subject) clauses will be analyzed in terms of semantic compatibility.