The maximal size of infinitives: a truncation theory of finiteness
Deniz Satik
May 2021

This is a rough first draft, posted to solicit comments. This paper argues for the following finiteness universal: an infinitive cannot co-occur with a high complementizer (such as "that" in English). Although such an observation may seem trivial, assuming Rizzi (1997)’s articulated CP allows us to make important generalizations on the nature of infinitives. This paper combines Pesetsky (2021)’s arguments that finiteness is a matter of clause size together with truncation theories of infinitives such as Shlonsky and Soare (2011)’s to argue for a novel understanding of finiteness, proposing precise and falsifiable definitions for finite and nonfinite clauses. Based on a crosslinguistic survey of several different languages belonging to many different language families, I present a theory of finiteness under which a clause is defined as nonfinite iff its ForceP/CP2 layer has been truncated, and finite iff it is untruncated. Beyond arguing for this finiteness universal, this paper also discusses the maximal size of infinitives in these languages, and correct cartographic predictions that result from it. Under this definition of finiteness in terms of the truncation of the C domain, I will argue that the surprising phenomenon of finite control, defended by Landau (2004), does not exist. I conclude that although derivational theories of finiteness explain this empirical generalization, languages are still able to select the maximal size of their infinitive.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005910
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To be submitted
keywords: finiteness, complementizer, infinitive, exfoliation, clause size, left periphery, syntax
previous versions: v1 [April 2021]
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