Finiteness / Call for Papers / Conference at Konstanz

Frans Plank Frans.Plank at UNI-KONSTANZ.DE
Fri Jan 26 11:49:16 UTC 2001


Though routinely employed in the morphological and syntactic
analysis of many languages, if not all, the descriptive
content and theoretical import of the category of finiteness
is so unclear as to render it arbitrary and almost meaningless. The
aim of the conference is to shed light on this category by
focusing on questions such as these:

-- Is FINITENESS an elementary notion or is it defined in
terms of more basic notions, such as marking for tense, mood,
person/number/other agreement, being in construction with a non-oblique

-- Assuming FINITENESS is not elementary, what are the
patterns of more basic functional categories that render such a derived
category  meaningful?  For example, are there systematic
correlations between being  marked for tense, mood,
person/number/other agreement and being in  construction
with a non-oblique subject?  Are such patterns language-
particular or are they universally predictable?

-- What kinds of units can be said to be FINITE or NON-FINITE?
 words or word forms? constructions/clauses/sentences?
 If both, how is the FINITENESS of words related to that of

-- As a word category, how does FINITENESS bear on word
classes?  Is FINITE what verbs are, and NON-FINITE what not-so-verby
verbs are, with basic nouns and adjectives unrelated to verbs being
outside the scope  of this category altogether?

-- As a construction category, how does FINITENESS bear on
construction classes?  Is FINITE what sentences and perhaps clauses are,
and NON-FINITE what phrases and perhaps clauses are, if
desentential? Further, how  do FINITE and NON-FINITE
distribute over main and subordinate clauses?

-- How do FINITE and NON-FINITE constructions differ as
domains for syntactic rules (e.g., binding, anaphora, case marking)?
That is, what is  the relationship between finiteness and
syntactic opacity?

-- What about FINITENESS is subject to change?
For example, can finite forms  or constructions become non-finite,
and vice versa? If so, what are the mechanisms of and conditions on
such changes?

For purposes of this conference the overall angle on such
questions ought to be typological and theoretical:
empirically determining crosslinguistic variation and its
limitations ought to be taken as seriously as explaining
what has been found, in whatever theoretical framework.

Invited speakers include:

Elena Kalinina, Moscow State University
Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm, University of Stockholm
Jaklin Kornfilt, Syracuse University
David Perlmutter, University of California, San Diego

Presentations will (normally) be allotted 30 minutes with additional
15 minutes for discussion.  The preferred conference language
is English.

Abstracts of one page (and including author's name and affiliation, title of
the paper, mailing address, and e-mail address) should be submitted by
March 30th, 2001. If you are submitting by regular mail, abstracts should
be mailed to:

Irina Nikolaeva,
Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft,
Fach 175,
Universität Konstanz,
D-78457 Konstanz, Germany.

If submitting electronically, please include the abstract in the body
of the message (do not send attachments!) and send it to:

irina.nikolaeva at


Deadline for abstracts:  March 30, 2001
Notification of acceptance:  April 10, 2001
Conference:  May 11-13, 2001

Conference organizers:

Irina Nikolaeva
irina.nikolaeva at
Frans Plank
frans.plank at

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