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home > Conversion and Back-Formation in English

Conversion and Back-Formation in English
― Toward a Theory of Morpheme-Based Morphology ―

Akiko Nagano
First published:
2008 / 11 / 11
Price (in Japan only):
6,000 yen (Tax Not Included) (296 pages)


This book is a comprehensive study of two word-formation processes in English, conversion (e.g. a sponsor > to sponsor, a shortcut > to shortcut) and back-formation (e.g. an editor > to edit, a vacuum-cleaner > to vacuum-clean). Presenting a wide range of empirical data compiled from dictionaries, literature, and corpuses, this book probes into the input- and output-properties of conversion and back-formation, examines the validity of various previous analyses of these processes, and proposes a new view of their status in English morphology. Traditionally, conversion has been analyzed as a type of affixation (i.e. zero derivation), but this study shows the fallacy of this view and claims, instead, that back-formation is a type of conversion. More specifically, this study has the following three objectives: (i) to show that conversion is a non-concatenative process in the lexicon called relisting, (ii) to prove a hypothesis that back-formation is a type of conversion, which follows automatically from the proper characterization of conversion and the notion of formal adjustment, and (iii) to maintain the morpheme-basedness of English word formation by relegating conversion and back-formation to the lexicon. Appendices offer the lists of back-formed verbs from ME to PE, the list of doublets of back-formed and converted forms (e.g. butlerNbuttleV/butlerV, lazyAlazeV/lazyV), and the detailed semantic comparison between the doublet members.

AKIKO NAGANO is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan.


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