I know 也 only as "also", but I see it now and then used in ways difficult to understand, especially in some negative statements. Why is this so? Does 也 also have some meaning not mentioned in dictionaries which is used in these cases?
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什麼都 can be used in both positive and negative statements while 什麼也 is usually used in negative statements. So, instead of focusing on the usage of 也 here, 什麼都 and 什麼也 can be regarded as phrases which are sometimes used interchangeably.
One possible translation:
So, it's ok to say (although the above example would read better):
but odd to say:
The meaning of the original expression is "I have nothing." But Chinese gets there in a "strange," way.
A more literal translation of the expression is "Everything not have." The "everything" is rendered by "什麼都," which literally translates to "whatever all."
什麼也 gets to the same place in a slightly different way. I would translate it as "whatever included." And a literal translation would be "whatever included, not have," instead of "whatever all" not have.