Synchrony and Diachrony of Conversion in English
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Kim, Ga Hyun
Conversion is one of the very productive means of forming new words in English morphology. It is a derivational process that includes no overt marking; i.e. there is no difference in the form even though the lexical category of the word has changed from one class to another. The main goal of this thesis is to provide a critical and informative analysis of conversion in English throughout distinct time periods and try to explain the problems that are left unanswered regarding this topic. There are two main approaches that are going to be presented in this research, such as synchronic analysis on conversion in the first part, and then a historical perspective will be examined in the second part of the research. For the synchronic analysis, in addition to representing the types of conversion in Present-Day English in greater detail, many controversial questions raised on conversion in English will be thoroughly investigated with numerous examples explicated; there are four main problems that are raised in this linguistic field, namely the problem of directionality, the problem of definition of conversion, syntactic approach of conversion, and the issue of productivity. The purpose of this part of study is to outline a number of different linguistic theories that has been proposed on conversion. In addition to this, a historical perspective of conversion in English will be examined as a diachronic approach of analysis. The word formation process of conversion has been present for centuries in the language (Biese 1942). Little attention has been drawn on conversion historically. Apart from the fact that there have not been many studies in this linguistic area, the purposes of this diachronic study are to deliver instructive, unified and meticulous descriptions on conversion with a great deal of comprehensive historical exemplifications and also to be able to trace, with confidence, the practicable and more reliable explanations to the essential questions that arise. I will divide this part into four sub-sections, namely conversion in Old English, conversion in Middle English, and conversion in Early Modern English, and manipulate the instances of conversion in each period and find out how the morphological process; i.e. conversion, evolved which hopefully shed insights on rather practical and explicative answers to the problems of conversion.