Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 29–58 | Cite as

Evidence for ‘finiteness’ in Telugu

  • Madelyn J. Kissock


Surface morphology is notoriously inconsistent both language-internally and cross-linguistically in providing any kind of reliable reflex of covert syntactic features. This paper addresses the difficult question of how the acquirer is able to deduce the presence/absence of particular (covert) features on functional items, here features of finiteness, given that they cannot rely on morphology. The paper has the following goals. First, it makes a fairly narrow empirical claim, specifically, that Telugu does not have PRO in its lexicon (and therefore does not have Control). Clausal subjects can easily be accounted for by pro, needed in Telugu for independent reasons. Second, because PRO/Control is so closely associated with finiteness, the paper explores whether there are other elements in Telugu that correspond to those usually associated with finiteness cross-linguistically. Third, the paper argues that, although traditional aspects of finiteness seem to be lacking, a more coherent notion of finiteness, based upon requirements of temporal and logophoric anchoring, should be adopted.


Telugu Finiteness PRO/Control 



I would like to thank participants of the Finiteness in South Asian Languages conference, Tromsø, June 9–10, 2011 for their many topical presentations and helpful comments and suggestions, especially Sandhya Sundaresan, Thomas McFadden, and Gillian Ramchand. I would also like to thank the audience of the Workshop on South Asian Syntax & Semantics, UMass Amherst, March 19–20, 2011 for input on an earlier paper on a related topic. Several colleagues were kind enough to read earlier drafts and offer helpful suggestions and I would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful contributions. Finally, without the help of many Telugu speakers, I could not have accomplished this work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontréalCanada

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