Finiteness and subordination

John M. Anderson

in The Substance of Language Volume I

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608317
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732034 | DOI:
Finiteness and subordination

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This chapter examines various constructions types and their relationship to finiteness. Certain constructions, such as ‘indirect questions’ and relatives, are demoted finites: the properties that they display that are associated with finiteness do not save them from being necessarily subordinate. Indicatives, however, can typically be finite in subordinate clauses. Some other constructions are dedicated mood-markers: this is often the case with optative, hortative, and exclamative constructions, which are frequently highly idiomatic. Other constructions still, though often, even typically, occurring as subordinates, may be promoted to serve as less prototypical expressions of declarative or of more marked moods: this is characteristic of the basic non-finite construction that is usually called infinitive. Subjunctives, associated notionally with irrealis, and even counterfactuality, show properties often associated with the expression of declaratives, but are frequently demoted. Descriptions are offered for this range of construction types and their varying relationship with finiteness.

Keywords: subordinates; non-finite; ‘indirect questions’; relative clauses; subordinators; infinitives; subjunctives; irrealis

Chapter.  19659 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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