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CONVERSION AND OTHER TYPES OF WORD-FORMATION

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The flexibility of the English vocabulary system makes a word formed by conversion capable of further derivation, so that it enters into combinations not only with functional but also with derivational affixes characteristic of a verbal stem, and becomes distributionally equivalent to it. For example, view ‘to watch television’ gives viewable, viewer, viewing.

Conversion may be combined with other word-building processes, such as composition. Attributive phrases like black ball, black list, pin point, stone wall form the basis of such firmly established verbs as blackball, blacklist, pinpoint, stonewall. The same pattern is much used in nonce-words such as to my-dear, to my-love, to blue-pencil.

This type should be distinguished from cases when composition and conversion are not simultaneous, that is when, for instance, a compound noun gives rise to a verb: corkscrew n : : corkscrew v; streamline n : : streamline v.

A special pattern deserving attention because of its ever increasing productivity results as a combined effect of composition and conversion forming nouns out of verb-adverb combinations. This type is different from conversion proper as the basic forms are not homonymous due to the difference in the stress pattern, although they consist of identical morphemes. Thanks to solid or hyphenated spelling and single stress the noun stem obtains phonetical and graphical integrity and indivisibility absent in the verb-group, сf. to draw back : : a drawback. Further examples are: blackout n : : black out v; breakdown n : : break down v; come-back, drawback, fall-out, hand-out, hangover, knockout, link-up, lookout, lockout, makeup, pull-over, runaway, run-off, set-back, take-off, takeover, teach-in.

The type is specifically English, its intense and growing development is due to the profusion of verbal collocations (see p. 120 ff) and con-

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version. So it is one more manifestation of the systematic character of the vocabulary.

A noun ot the same type may also be due to a more complicated process, i.e. composition, conversion and ellipsis, e. g. drive in : : a drive-in theatre : : a drive-in.

R.S. Rosenberg points out that semantically these nouns keep a cer­tain connection with the prototype verbal phrase. They always reflect some verbal notion in their meaning and are clearly motivated. In case of polysemy their various meanings are often derived from different mean­ings of the verb-adverb combination and enter its semantic structure so that the resulting relationship is similar to what has been described for the word bank (see p. 160).



There is a kind of double process when first a noun is formed by con­version from a verbal stem, and next this noun is combined with such verbs as give, make, have, take and a few others to form a verbal phrase with a special aspect characteristic, e. g. have a wash/a chat/a smtnl a smoke/a look; give a laugh/a cry la whistle; give the go by. A noun of this type can also denote intermittent motion: give a jerk/a jump/a stagger, a start; take a ride/a walk/the lead; make a move la dive.

There is a great number of idiomatic prepositional phrases as well: be in the know, in the long run, of English make, get into a scrape. Some­times the elements of these expressions have a fixed grammatical form, as for instance in the following, where the noun is always plural: It gives me the creeps (or the jumps), You can have it for keeps {for good).

In other cases the grammar forms are free to change.

Phrases or even sentences are sometimes turned into nouns and ad­jectives by a combination of conversion and composition. E.g.: Old man what-do-you-call-huns book is on sale.


Chapter 9 SET EXPRESSIONS


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