Finiteness bears on issues pertaining to some of the most central properties of a clause: its tense, aspect, mood, agreement, the referential properties and case-marking of its subject and, more generally, the way in which the clause is anchored to a higher one or to the utterance context. And yet, given the increasing amount of empirical evidence challenging conventional definitions of finiteness, it remains one of the least understood concepts in linguistic theory. The series of eleven papers in this volume presents new evidence on the nature of finiteness from a number of hitherto under-studied languages, namely those of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian language families spoken in South Asia. The hope is that these papers will encourage the reader to deepen their knowledge and simultaneously question their existing view of finiteness. The introduction below sets the stage for the rest of this volume: we briefly describe the content of the individual papers included here and situate them within the larger context of the rich dialogue on finiteness.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
X is a governing category for Y iff X is the minimal category containing Y, a governor of Y, and an accessible subject for Y. The notion of “government” itself is defined as follows (Chomsky 1981:250):
Since we are discussing the state of the theory within the GB framework, we are using the trace notation that was prevalent then; of course, the existence of traces as distinct objects has since been questioned and entirely abandoned within the Minimalist framework.
This specification differs from that proposed by Raposo (1987) with respect to the tense feature, but is in line with his own discussion of the temporal interpretation of the relevant clauses.
Whether such an analysis ultimately proves to be the correct one can, of course, only be decided upon the careful examination of these and related data. The point we are making here is simply that this model provides us with the syntactic tools and vocabulary needed to deal with such empirical patterns.
Of the four literary Dravidian languages, this strictly applies only to Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. Malayalam lacks verb agreement, but it behaves the same as the other three languages on the remaining points of complementary distribution.
Adger, David. 2007. Three domains of finiteness: A minimalist perspective. In Finiteness: Theoretical and empirical foundations, 23–58. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Amritavalli, R., and K. A. Jayaseelan. 2005. Finiteness and negation in Dravidian. In The Oxford handbook of comparative syntax, eds. Guglielmo Cinque and Richard S. Kayne, 178–220. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bianchi, Valentina. 2003. On finiteness as logophoric anchoring. In Temps et point de vue/tense and point of view, eds. Jacqueline Guéron and L. Tasmovski, 213–246. Nanterrem: Université Paris X.
Borer, Hagit. 1989. Anaphoric AGR. In The null subject parameter, eds. Osvaldo Jaeggli and Ken Safir, 69–109. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
Brody, Michael. 2000. Mirror theory: syntactic representation in perfect syntax. Linguistic Inquiry 31: 29–56.
Butt, Miriam. 1995. The structure of complex predicates in Urdu. Doctoral Dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Caha, Pavel. 2009. The nanosyntax of case. Doctoral Dissertation, CASTL, University of Tromsø.
Chierchia, Gennaro. 1989. Structured meanings, thematic roles, and control. In Properties, types, and meaning, eds. Gennaro Chierchia, Barbara Partee, and Raymond Turner. Vol. II of Semantic issues of studies in linguistics and philosophy, 131–166. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic structures. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Chomsky, Noam. 1973. Conditions on transformations. In A Festschrift for Morris Halle, eds. Stephen A. Anderson and Paul Kiparsky, 232–285. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Chomsky, Noam. 1981. Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht: Foris.
Chomsky, Noam. 1986. Knowledge of language: Its nature, origin, and use. New York: Praeger.
Chomsky, Noam. 2008. On phases. In Foundational issues in linguistic theory: Essays in honor of Jean-Roger Vergnaud, eds. Robert Freidin, Carlos Otero, and Maria Luisa Zubizarreta, 133–166. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Chomsky, Noam, and Howard Lasnik. 1993. The theory of principles and parameters. In Syntax: An international handbook of contemporary research, eds. Joachim Jacobs, Arnim von Stechow, Wolfgang Sternefeld, and Theo Vennemann. Vol. 1, 506–569. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads: A cross-linguistic perspective. Oxford studies in comparative syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Culy, Christopher. 1994. Aspects of logophoric marking. Linguistics 32: 1055–1094.
Embick, David, and Rolf Noyer. 2007. Distributed morphology and the syntax/morphology interface. In The Oxford handbook of linguistic interfaces, eds. Gillian Ramchand and Charles Reiss. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Emonds, Joe E. 1969. Root and structure-preserving transformations. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT.
Gair, James W. 2005. Some aspects of finiteness and control in Sinhala. In The yearbook of South Asian languages and linguistics, eds. Rajendra Singh and Tanmoy Bhattacharya, 117–143. Berlin and New York: Mouton De Gruyter.
Garrett, Andrew. 2012. The historical syntax problem: Reanalysis and directionality. In Grammatical change: Origins, nature, outcomes, eds. Dianne Jonas, John Whitman, and Andrew Garrett, 52–72. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Halle, Morris, and Alec Marantz. 1993. Distributed morphology and the pieces of inflection. In The view from building 20: Essays in linguistics in honor of Sylvain Bromberger, eds. Ken Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Hellan, Lars. 1988. Anaphora in Norwegian and the theory of grammar. Vol. 32 of Studies in generative grammar. Dordrecht: Foris.
Hicks, Glyn. 2009. The derivation of anaphoric relations. Linguistik aktuell. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hooper, Joan, and Sandra Thompson. 1973. On the applicability of root transformations. Linguistic Inquiry 4: 465–497.
Kayne, Richard. 1994. The antisymmetry of syntax. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Landau, Idan. 2000. Elements of control: Structure and meaning in infinitival constructions. Studies in natural language and linguistic theory. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
Landau, Idan. 2004. The scale of finiteness and the calculus of control. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 22: 777–811.
Landau, Idan. 2013. Control in generative grammar: A research companion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Martin, Roger. 2001. Null case and the distribution of PRO. Linguistic Inquiry 32: 141–166.
McCloskey, James. 1985. Case, movement and raising in modern Irish. In Proceedings of WCCFL, Vol. 4, 190–205.
Nikolaeva, Irina, ed. 2007. Finiteness: Theoretical and empirical foundations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pesetsky, David, and Eesther Torrego. 2001. T-to-C movement: Causes and consequences. In Ken Hale: A life in language, ed. Michael Kenstowicz. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Polinsky, Martha, and Eric Potsdam. 2002. Backward control. Linguistic Inquiry 33: 245–282.
Pollock, Jean-Yves. 1989. Verb movement, universal grammar, and the structure of IP. Linguistic Inquiry 20: 365–424.
Ramchand, Gillian, and Peter Svenonius. 2013. Deriving the functional hierarchy. Presented at GLOW 36.
Raposo, Eduardo P. 1987. Case theory and Infl-to-Comp: The inflected infinitive in European Portuguese. Linguistic Inquiry 18: 85–109.
Reuland, Eric. 1983. Governing -ing. Linguistic Inquiry 14: 101–136.
Reuland, Eric. 2001. Anaphors, logophors, and binding. In Long-distance reflexives, eds. Peter Cole, Gabriella Hermon, and C.-T. James Huang, 343–370. London: Academic Press.
Ritter, Elizabeth, and Martina Wiltschko. 2009. Varieties of INFL: TENSE, LOCATION, and PERSON. In Alternatives to cartography, eds. Hans Broekhuis, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, and Henk van Riemsdijk. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Rizzi, Luigi. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In Elements of grammar, ed. Liliane Haegeman, 281–337. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
Sigurðsson, Halldór Ármann. 1991. Icelandic case-marked PRO and the licensing of lexical arguments. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 9: 327–363.
Sigurðsson, Halldór Ármann. 2004. The syntax of person, tense, and speech features. Italian Journal of Linguistics 16: 219–251. Edited by Valentina Bianchi and Ken Safir.
Speas, Margaret. 2004. Evidentiality, logophoricity and the syntactic representation of pragmatic features. Lingua 114: 255–276.
Speas, Peggy, and Carol Tenny. 2003. Configurational properties and point-of-view roles. In Asymmetry in grammar, ed. Anna Maria Di Sciullo. Vol. I of Syntax and semantics, 315–344. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Stowell, Tim. 1982. The tense of infinitives. Linguistic Inquiry 13: 561–570.
Sundaresan, Sandhya, and Thomas McFadden. 2009. DP distribution and finiteness in Tamil and other languages: Selection vs case. Journal of South Asian Linguistics 2: 5–34.
Svenonius, Peter. 2008. Complex predicates and the functional sequence. Nordlyd 35: 47–88.
Szabolcsi, Anna. 2009. Overt nominative subjects in infinitival complements in Hungarian. In Approaches to Hungarian, eds. Marcel den Dikken and Robert M. Vago. Vol. 11 of Papers from the 2007 NYU Conference. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Taraldsen, Knut Tarald. 1978. On the NIC, vacuous application and the that-trace filter. Bloomington, Indiana, University Linguistics Club.
Wiklund, Anna-Lena, Kristine Bentzen, Gunnar Hrafn Hrafnbjargarson, and Þorbjörg Hróarsdóttir. 2009. On the distribution and illocution of V2 in Scandinavian that-clauses. Lingua 119: 1914–1938.
Wurmbrand, Susanne. 2001. Infinitives: Restructuring and clause structure. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
We are extremely grateful to the participants of the workshop “Finiteness in South Asian Languages” held at the University of Tromsø in 2011, without whose attendance and insightful presentations, this volume would not have come to be, and of course to the authors of the papers included herein for their cooperation and commitment to this volume. Thanks also to our reviewers for taking time out of their busy schedules to comment on papers, often more than once, and to Marcel den Dikken, in particular, for his expert guidance with the editing process and for his unflagging enthusiasm, patience, and good humor throughout.
Authors are listed in alphabetical order.
About this article
Cite this article
McFadden, T., Sundaresan, S. Finiteness in South Asian languages: an introduction. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 32, 1–27 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-013-9215-7
- OC pro
- Deixis vs. anaphora