Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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The process of noun-verb conversion, which is highly productive in English, has been dealt with from a variety of theoretical perspectives. What is missing so far is a systematic analysis of conceptual-semantic factors which motivate this process and set it apart from another productive verb-formation process, namely - derivation. The present article is intended to fill this gap. While some conceptual-semantic patterns which are displayed by converted verbs but not by - verbs have already been identified in the literature, more fine-grained contrastive analyses show that converted verbs display even more patterns not attested for the overtly derived verbs. Even if the two verb-formation types share a conceptual-semantic pattern, they may be in complementary distribution at a lower level of abstraction. Moreover, non-derived denominal verbs allow for a wider range of metaphorical meanings. The difference in semantic diversity is ascribed here to the fact that - verbs denote more specialized activities, whereas converted verbs typically (though not necessarily) express activities reflecting speakers’ interaction with basic-level objects, which may be based on experience or imagination. Since the activities denoted by converted verbs are readily transferred to different domains of experience (e.g., ), these verbs more frequently undergo metaphorical meaning extension. Formally, the higher degree of semantic versatility observed for converted verbs is reflected by the fact that conversion – unlike - derivation – is constrained neither by predetermined Lexical Conceptual Structures nor by selectional restrictions, but motivated by metonymy, which may be enriched by metaphorical extension.


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