Finiteness in South Slavic Complement Clauses

Evidence for an Implicational Finiteness Universal


  • Susanne Wurmbrand University of Vienna, Austria
  • Iva Kovač University of Vienna, Austria
  • Magdalena Lohninger University of Vienna, Austria
  • Caroline Pajančič University of Vienna, Austria
  • Neda Todorović University of British Columbia, Canada



syntax, morphology, language variation, implicational hierarchies, complementation, infinitives, finiteness, South Slavic


This paper shows that the distribution of (non‑)finiteness in the South Slavic languages reflects an implicational scale along an independently attested semantic complementation hierarchy (e.g., Givón 1980). We suggest that in the South Slavic languages, finiteness is triggered by clausal agreement features associated with different syntactic heads. Building on a complexity approach to the complementation hierarchy, we propose that cross-linguistic variation in finiteness and variation across different types of complements are the result of language-specific differences in the distribution of agreement features. More broadly, we conclude that there is no (universal) semantic correlate of (non‑)finiteness and, contra cartographic approaches, that finiteness is not confined to a particular domain in the clause. Following Adger (2007), we argue that finiteness can be distributed over all clausal domains.


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How to Cite

Wurmbrand, S., Kovač, I., Lohninger, M., Pajančič, C., & Todorović, N. (2020). Finiteness in South Slavic Complement Clauses: Evidence for an Implicational Finiteness Universal. Linguistica, 60(1), 119–137.