Article published in:Finiteness Matters: On finiteness-related phenomena in natural languages
Edited by Kristin Melum Eide
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 231] 2016
► pp. 47–78
Finiteness and Pseudofiniteness
I argue that finiteness is a purely syntactic property, licensing case on the subject and agreement on the verb. Semantic properties associated with finiteness follow from the position of Finite in the geometry of clausal interpretable features. Considering possible counterexamples from Romance languages as well as West Flemish, modern Greek, and Turkish, I show that Romance personal and inflected infinitives are characterized by a pseudofinite Infl, available only in null-subject languages, which lacks Finite, but bears an unvalued case feature. Pseudofinite clauses, including the Southern Calabrian modo construction, must be assigned case externally. West Flemish personal infinitives are finite, headed by a hybrid Comp/Infl head. Turkish agreeing gerunds have nominal syntax, and Greek subjunctive clauses are either finite or nonfinite, depending on their case-assigning properties.
Keywords: agreement, case, clause structure, feature geometry, finiteness
Published online: 25 August 2016
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