Semantic changes of English converted vocabulary

The semantic changes that have occurred as a result of the transition of lexical units of the English language from one morphological class to another. The phenomenon of conversion as a non-fixed, morphological and syntactic way of word formation.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 20.07.2018
Размер файла 24,3 K

Отправить свою хорошую работу в базу знаний просто. Используйте форму, расположенную ниже

Студенты, аспиранты, молодые ученые, использующие базу знаний в своей учебе и работе, будут вам очень благодарны.

Размещено на

Размещено на

УДК 811.111'37=111 Ніна Христич

ORCID iD: кандидат педагогічних наук, доцент кафедри іноземної філології, перекладу і методики навчання ДВНЗ «Переяслав-Хмельницький державний педагогічний університет імені Григорія Сковороди», вул. Сухомлинського, 30, 08400, м. Переяслав-Хмельницький, Україна

Semantic changes of English converted vocabulary

У статті досліджуються деякі семантичні зміни, які відбуваються у результаті переходу лексичних одиниць англійської мови з одного морфологічного класу в інший. Автор розглядає явище конверсії як безафіксний, морфолого-синтаксичний шлях словотвору, що веде до морфологічних, лексичних та синтаксичних змін отриманого слова. Автор підходить до розгляду кожного конкретного випадку реалізації конвертованого слова як до єдиного цілого, тобто узгодженої сукупності елементів та взаємовідносин. Доводиться думка, що конверсія формується у процесі різноманітних семантичних переосмислень. У такому разі лексичні одиниці можуть мати різні семантичні відносини в конвертованих парах.

Ключові слова: словотвір, конверсив, морфологічний клас, морфологічні зміни, семантика, субстантивація, вербалізація, ад 'єктивація, адвербалізація.

В статье исследуются семантические изменения, которые произошли в результате перехода лексических единиц английского языка с одного морфологического класса в другой. Автор рассматривает явление конверсии как безафиксный, морфолого-синтаксический путь словообразования, что ведет к морфологическим, лексическим и синтаксическим изменениям новообразованного слова. Автор подходит к рассмотрению каждого конкретного случая реализации конвертируемого слова как к единому целому, то есть, согласованной совокупности элементов и взаимоотношений. Подтверждается мысть о том, что конверсия формируется в процессе различных семантических переосмыслений. В таком случае лексические единицы могут иметь различные семантические отношения в конвертируемых парах.

Ключевые слова: словообразование, конверсивы, морфологический класс, морфологические изменения, семантика, субстантивация, вербализация, адьективация, адвербализация.

The article examines the use of conversion in the modern English language. The author leads the major aim to discover the semantics of converted words as well as attempts to spell out the typical ways of transition from one part of speech into another by keeping or loosing general meaning of a word.

The author proves that conversion goes near the consideration of every concrete case of realization of convertible word as to unique whole that the concerted aggregate of elements and mutual relations. According to author's point of view, conversion may be regarded as a specific feature of the English categories of parts of speech, which are supposed to be able to break through the rigid borderlines dividing one category from another, thus enriching the process of communication not by the creation of new words but through the sheer flexibility of the syntactic structures.

The language never remains as something frozen. It is obvious that the lexical unit itself is the main language of the utterances used to communicate between members of the society. In English, conversion is an extremely productive way of word formation. An analysis of the vocabulary shows the active transition of different parts of speech to another morphological class and the acquisition of similar semantics inherent in verbs. Many examples confirm that conversion has a high productivive way of word formation.

Conversion occurs depending on the morphological characteristics of the original and derivative words. When the word is converted, it is formed a homonym, semantically associated with the original word. In order to understand the meaning of a new word we should take into account the meaning of the original word: e. g: The actor was hissed off the stage (hiss - hissing, stitching).

The author studies two types of conversions: Type I: if the original and derivative words (or one of them) morphologically change. The most typical conversion of this type is verbalization, substantivation and adjectivation. Type II: if the original and derivative words are morphologically unchanged. Conversion of type 2 consists of changing the syntactic function of the word and its lexical meaning. By this type the following words can be converted: adverbs (well), prepositions (before, after, up, down, on, off, in, up, down), conjunctions (and, if), pronouns (who, when, why, no), and even articles (a, an) and auxiliary words (do, don t, does, doesn't).

Therefore, the author believes that the study of the semantics of convertible lexical units is based on the correlation between the values of derivative words and the value of the components of the creature basis.

Key words: word formation, conversion, morphological class, morphological changes, semantics, affixation, substantivation, verbalization, adjectivation, adverbatization.

Conversion is universally accepted as one of the major ways of enriching English vocabulary with new words. The transition of a certain part of speech into another morphological class of words is not only a highly productive way but also a particularly English way of word-building.

The study of the problem of generation and functioning of the new lexical composition of the English language remains one of the leading directions of world linguistics. The very essence of this process has been treated by a number of scholars (K. Burridge (2005), C. Laird (1991), G. N. Leech (1990), A. Metcalf (2002), and others famous scholars in the whole world including the Ukrainian scientists such as L. Verba (2003), S. Yenikeeva (2006) and others.

In present-day linguistic analysis, after years of a relative neglect, one may speak of a certain revival of interest in the study of lexical changes. The phenomenon of conversion is a controversial problem in several aspects. Most scholars think that conversion is a mere functional change but not word building. Such approches can be regarded as indicating a mere functional change which might be expected to bear more occasional characteristics. The completeness of the paradigms in a new word seems to be a decisive argument proving that here we are dealing with new words and not with mere functional variants. Hence, the case cannot be treated as one of word-formation for no new word appears.

The major aim of this article is to specify the semantics of the converted words. The present paper also attempts to spell out the typical ways of transition from one part of speech into another by keeping or loosing the general meaning of the word.

The crosslinguistic query provides us with cases of semantically corresponding word formations of different morphological classes that serve to convey the sense of the homonyms. The data of most modern English dictionaries confirm this point of view: they all present converted pairs as homonyms, i. e. as two words, thus supporting the thesis that conversion is a full-scale word-building process.

The enrichment of vocabulary at the expense of morphological changes is a historically inevitable process necessary for the language at every stage of its development to meet the needs of society both in communication and in consolidating the results of the knowledge of reality, in the development and enrichment of the people's culture.

The word is flexible enough in the functional aspect, that is, it is able to change the functional characteristics with the shape immutable. The syntactic use of the English word, its syntagmatic potential is closely related to its semantic peculiarities and determines its lexical-grammatical characteristics.

Conversion occurs depending on the morphological characteristics of the original and derivative words. When the word is converted, it is formed a homonym, semantically associated with the original word. In order to understand the meaning of a new word we should take into account the meaning of the original word: e. g: The actor was hissed off the stage (hiss - hissing, stitching).

Conversion has a high productivive way of word formation. This is a special non-reflexive type of translation of the word into another part of the language. According to L. Verba, `conversion is a very productive way of creating words in English, when a new word with another distribution, with a different paradigm, without any word-formation affixes, is formed from the noun (adjective or other part of the language)' (Verba L., 2003, p. 36). The word that arose as a result of a conversion is a homonym of an ascending word. In some cases, their values may coincide. The essence of the conversion is to change the syntactic function of the word.

There are 2 types of conversions:

Type I: if the original and derivative words (or one of them) morphologically change. The most typical conversion of this type is verbalization, substantivation and adjectivation.

Type II: if the original and derivative words are morphologically unchanged. Conversion of type 2 consists of changing the syntactic function of the word and its lexical meaning. By this type the following words can be converted: adverbs (well), prepositions (before, after, up, down, on, off, in, up, down), conjunctions (and, if), pronouns (who, when, why, no), and even articles (a, an) and auxiliary words (do, don't, does, doesn 't).

When fully converted, the new words take all the properties of the other part of the language. Nouns and adjectives at verbalization denote the action and are used in the function of the predicate, and also take all the interchangeable forms of the verb. This suggestion is justified by the following examples:

Hope - to hope: 1) I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted (hope- Noun) (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 7). 2) `I hope you were more creative this time... or are you still stealing from comic books?' (hope-Verb) (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 93).

Waste - to waste. 1) It was a simple waste of time (waste-Noun) (Koontz D., 1999, p. 183). 2) Jessica and Angela knew it well, so they didn't plan to waste time on the picturesque boardwalk by the bay (waste-Verb) (Oliver L., 2002, p. 83).

Verbalization is the most popular group of the converted vocabulary. The verbs formed from nouns are the most numerous group. E. g. : to hand, to back, to face, to eye, to mouth, to the nose, to dog, to wolf, to monkey, to coal, to stage, to screen, to room, to floor, to blackmail, to blacklist, to honeymoon, to towel, to tattoo and many others.

The verbs can be formed from adjectives such as the following example, pale, cool, rough. E. g. 1) We decided to rough it in the tents as the weather was warm (Koontz D., 1999, p. 243); 2) The meadow, so spectacular to me at first, paled next to his magnificence (Koontz D., 1999, p. 142); 3) Seed bound them, and it paused briefly to cool them down and establish full control (Koontz D., 1999, p. 107).

The adjectives denoting colors can be also verbalized: to yellow, to grey, to white, to black, to red, to green. E. g.: 1) A fine layer of snow covered the yard, dusted the top of my truck, and whitened the road (Koontz D., 1999, p. 29); 2) The wooden floor, the light blue walls, the peaked ceiling, the yellowed lace curtains around the window - these were all a part of my childhood (Oliver L., 2002, p. 5); 3) As we walked north across the multihued stones toward the driftwood seawall, the clouds finally closed ranks across the sky, causing the sea to darken and the temperature to drop (Oliver L., 2002, p. 67).

We can see the changing of semantics in the examples of verbalization when those they are derived from the noun with the addition of prepositions. E. g. 1) It was her duty to feed, punish, dress and bed down seven of the ten children (Oliver L., 2002, p. 29); 2) Instead, he waited, cooled off, settled down (Oliver L., 2002, p. 269).

As a result of conversion a new word can get another meaning. E. g.: 1) He had the long sleeves of his white shirt pushed up to his elbows (Oliver L., 2002, p. 104). `An elbow' (Noun) means `the joint where the arm bends'. 2) He elbowed his way through the crowd (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 104). An elbow (Verb) means to move through the group of people by pushing past them.

Other examples prove this idea: 1) When the strobes were off, there were shimmering film clips from horror movies projected on the walls and ceiling (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 174). As a rule, the word `film' belongs to the morphological class but in our example `film clips ' he has the function of the adjective and denotes `a short story'. 2) He was much filmed (Oliver L., 2002, p. 196). The verb `to film' means `to use a camera to record a story or real events so that it can be shown in the cinema or on television'.

Conversion can be realized as a reconversion - a language phenomenon, when one of the derivative values of a word conversion is the source of a new value on the basis of the original word: e. g. force - to force, cable - to cable. Otherwise, the conversion may be partial. In such a way the noun is formed on the verbal basis, but then this noun is a part of phrases with verbs to have, to give, to make, to take an so on: to have a talk, to have a look, to have a smoke, to have a bite, to give a look, to give a laugh, to give a cry, to make a remark, to make a move, to make fun of, to make up one's mind, to make use of, to take care of, to take part in, to take a photo, to take a look etc.

When a partial conversion occurs, the word does not necessarily have all the signs of the other part of the language. For example, many nouns derived from verbs as a result of partial conversion are used only in singular form: E. g.: 1) I didn't answer; I just listened to the sound of his laugh, committing it to memory (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 103). 2) The film had a long run (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 113). 3) It gave me quite a scare (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 109).

The verbal basis of phrases with convertible nouns may also be other verbs, such as to pay, to change, to lose, to pay, to visit, to sight, to smoke, to risk, to kneel, to hug, to tie, to jump, to skip, to smile, to collect and many others.

As a result of the lexicalization of the syntactic unit, the connection between its components loses relevance as grammatical indicators, but affects the semantics of the newly created word. This grammatical phenomenon can be illustrated by the example of the adjective `good and the adverb `well'.

The adjective `good means `to be desired or approved of us living in peace with each other, which is good'. The adverb `well - `in a good or satisfactory way'. The synonyms of the adjective `good: healthy, fine, sound, tip-top, hale, hearty, fit, robust, strong, strong, vigorous. The synonyms of the adjective `well': skillfully, ably, competently, proficiently, adeptly, deftly, expertly, admirably.

After passing into the class of nouns, the adjective `good has the meaning of `benefit', `boon' and the adverb `well' - `spring', `pore'. E. g.:

1) A cup of hot lemon tea will make you a lot of good (Oliver L., 2002, p. 7); semantic morphological phenomenon

2) Conversation is the great enemy of human good (Koontz D., 1999, p. 65).

3) For their own good and for the good of society, they should be interned behind barbed wire (Oliver L., 2002, p. 77). 4) We are going to the well (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 107).

The above examples confirm the opinion of S. Yenikeeva that `the semantics of the derivative of the lexical unit is not a mere sum of the values of the components that are part of it, but only correlates with them. The value of the derivative word should be correlated for the sake of `adequate perception with its extra-linguistic orientation on the subject, phenomenon, attitude of the real world.' (S. Yenikeeva, 2006, p. 115). The new lexical formulation acquires an additional meaning, which is manifested in the new grammatical status or in a new expressive-colored form.

Substantivation of adjectives is a process of word formation, in which the adjective collects the characteristic signs of the noun, for example, blonde, fantastic, exotic, captive, conservative, intellectual, professional, progressive, adult, adult, mild, naive, neutral, relative, male, Female, criminal, radical, while the new noun does not appear immediately but gradually: a beloved, a male, a female. Substantivation of adjectives follows the scheme: Adj ^ N. For example: rich - the rich, deaf - the deaf, male - male. E. g .: 1) With the wisdom of the old she found a way out (Koontz D., 1999, p. 55). 2) Will you drop in at the shop and buy a bitter for me? (Oliver L., 2002, p. 8). 3) Matilda was losing her cool (Koontz D., 1999, p. 3). 4) The lawyer did the impossible - the accused was set free (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 24). 5) The authorities are very much concerned with the number of the homeless on London streets (Oliver L., 2002, p. 68). 6) Why do you ignore the obvious? (Oliver L., 2002, p. 77).

The names of nationalities make a special group of substantivized adjectives. E. g.: 1) Why, you might say we're more English than the English? (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 18). 2) There are so many Englishes in the world (Oliver L., 2002, p. 83). 3) Heaven is when the police is British, the cooks are Italian, the mechanics are German, the lovers are French, and all is organized by the Swiss. Hell is the cooks are British, the lovers are Swiss, the police is German, and all is organized by the Italians (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 98).

The adjectives denoting colours (white, black, gray, blue, red, green, yellow, brown, etc.) have great potential for substantivization. E. g. : 1) All races were represented, white, Hispanic, Asian, and African-American (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 45). 2) And the old black who drove the cab had a heavy, warm accent (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 55). 3) His hair was just a touch too long, his eyes were just as blue, the gray in his hair didn't show among the blond, he had the same athletic body, and the same cleft in his chin (Oliver L., 2002, p. 55). 4) Her hair hung down her back like spun gold, and her eyes were the color of cornflowers, a rich, vibrant blue (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 34). 5) Luke looked totally undisturbed, and almost amused, but his eyes were like steel, and an evil shade of blue (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 55).

The modal verbs can also be substantivized, that the following examples prove this idea: E. g. : 1) Promptness in business is a must (Oliver L., 2002, p. 19). 2) It is a must-have in each house (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 19). 3) Your shoulds have annoyed me for many years of our life (Oliver L., 2002, p. 105).

In the category of adjectives a lot of words can pass from other parts of the language. This transition process is called adjectivation (from the Latin adjectivum - adjective), in which one or another part of the language acquires signs of adjectives. Often, adjectives begin to express static and dynamic features of objects.

In the combination Noun + Noun the first noun has the function of adjective. So the nouns on the left performs the definition function and answer the questions what / what / what kind / whose / who ?). For example, in the word combination 'garden vegetables ', the first word 'garden' is adjectival; in the word combination 'a vegetable garden' the word 'vegetable' is adjectivized. We give other examples of adjectival nouns that are in the initial position with respect to another noun in the phrase: ocean current, night meeting, milk chocolate, air mass, temperature drop, tennis club, rubber gloves, fruit salad, stress puppy.

Participle I and Participle II have the greatest ability to assume the functions of adjectives, among which the main function is a notional function. The participle terminating-ing (Participle I) mostly characterizes objects; Participle II endows signs to living beings. E. g. : Nick was shocked because the news was shocking (Koontz D., 1999, p. 13).

Note that conversion process can also be done with structural words (prepositions, articles, conjunctions). E. g : 1) You'll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that (Mortimer C., 1991, p. 124). 2) We want no what-iffers around here (Oliver L., 2002, p. 14). 3) The room was bursting with sofas and chairs and mahogany whatnots (Koontz D., 1999, p. 55). 4) He was a German through and through (Koontz D., 1999, p. 67). 5) If if and were the pots and pans (Koontz D., 1999, p. 41). 6) No ifs, no buts, no more cuts (Koontz D., 1999, p. 64).

Therefore, the associative and formal connection between the source and the new linguistic units leads not only to the development of the variational zone of the semantics of the original unit, but also to the change in its syntactic and morphological characteristics.

Summing up, we discovered that in the process of conversion, the semantic links of the word and its syntactic functions can be changed. This applies to common cases of conversion - the formation of verbs from nouns and nouns from verbs - and changes within other parts of the English language. As a result of the lexicalization of lexical units, the compound words of a special type are formed, which have a significant information capacity and are distinguished by semantic saturation.

The study of the semantic, morphological and syntactic features of complex syntactic words can be followed in different directions such as substantivation, adjectivation, prominimalization, verbalization, numeralization, adverbialization, predicativization, modalization, the transition of full-length parts of the language into service (prepositioning, conjunctization, articulation, transition to exclamation (interjectivization). On the other hand, morphological changes of lexical units can be created by expanding semantic meaning. According to studies of English- language sources, in addition to conversion, there are other ways of creating words: agglutination, merging, acronyms, tracing, word-formation, neologisms and others.


1. Burridge K. (2005). Weeds in the Garden of Words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 207 (eng).

2. Gramley S, Patzold. K. (2002). A Survey of Modern English. Trask R. L. Language and Linguistics. The Key Concepts, N. Y.: Routledge, 416 (eng).

3. Heidi H. (2006). English Words: A Linguistic Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 321 (eng).

4. Koontz D. (1999). Strange Highways [Elektronnyi resurs]. Rezhym dostupu: Strange_Highways, 624 (eng).

5. Laird Ch. (1981). The Word. A Look at the Vocabulary of English. Simon and Schuster. New York: NY, 152 (eng).

6. Leech G. N. (1990). Semantics. London: Penguin Books, 383 (eng).

7. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2008). London: Mills@ Boon, 1024 (eng).

8. Metcalf A. (2002). Predicting New Words. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 298 (eng).

9. Mortimer C. (1991). Memories of the Past. London: Mills@Boon, 202 (eng).

10. Oliver L. (2002). Delirium [Elektronnyi resurs]. Rezhym dostupu: www., 240 (eng).

11. Verba L. H. (2003). Porivnialna leksykolohiia anhliiskoi ta ukrainskoi mov [Comparative Lexicology of English and Ukrainian Languages. Vinnytsia: Nova knyha, 160 (ukr).

12. Yenikeeva S. M. (2006). Systemnist ta rozvytok slovotvoru suchasnoi anhliiskoi movy [Systems and Development of the Word-formation of Contemporary English]. Zaporizhzhia: ZNU, 2006. - 303 (ukr).

Статтю рекомендовано до друку кандидатом філологічних наук, доцентом кафедри іноземної філології і методики навчання, ДВНЗ «Переяслав-Хмельницький державний педагогічний університет

імені Григорія Сковороди», Заболотною Тетяною Валентинівною

Стаття надійшла до редакції 1 липня 2017 року

Нина Христич

кандидат педагогических наук, доцент кафедры иностранной филологии, перевода и методики обучения

ГВУЗа «Переяслав-Хмельницкий государственный педагогический университет имени Григория Сковороды», ул. Сухомлинского, 30, 08400, г. Переяслав-Хмельницкий, Украина,


Nina Khrystych

Ph. D in Pedagogics,

Assistant Professor at the Chair of Foreign Philology and Applied Linguistics of SHEI «Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi Hryhorii Skovoroda State Pedagogical University», Sukhomlynskogo str., 30, 08400 Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine,

Размещено на


Подобные документы

  • Features of English Nouns. The Category of Case. The Category of Number of English Nouns. Structural Semantic Characteristics of English, morphological, syntactical Characteristics of Nouns. The Use of Articles with Nouns in Some Set Expsessions.

    дипломная работа [96,9 K], добавлен 10.07.2009

  • The history and reasons for the formation of american english, its status as the multinational language. Its grammatical and lexical-semantic features. Differences in American and English options in the grammar parts of speech, pronunciation and spelling.

    курсовая работа [34,8 K], добавлен 08.03.2015

  • The concept of semasiology as a scientific discipline areas "Linguistics", its main objects of study. Identify the relationship sense with the sound forms, a concept referent, lexical meaning and the morphological structure of synonyms in English.

    реферат [22,2 K], добавлен 03.01.2011

  • The general outline of word formation in English: information about word formation as a means of the language development - appearance of a great number of new words, the growth of the vocabulary. The blending as a type of modern English word formation.

    курсовая работа [54,6 K], добавлен 18.04.2014

  • The case of the combination of a preposition with a noun in the initial form and description of cases in the English language: nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. Morphological and semantic features of nouns in English and Russian languages.

    курсовая работа [80,1 K], добавлен 05.05.2011

  • Lexico-semantic features of antonyms in modern English. The concept of polarity of meaning. Morphological and semantic classifications of antonyms. Differences of meaning of antonyms. Using antonyms pair in proverbs and sayings. Lexical meaning of words.

    курсовая работа [43,0 K], добавлен 05.10.2011

  • The structure of words and word-building. The semantic structure of words, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms. Word combinations and phraseology in modern English and Ukrainian languages. The Native Element, Borrowed Words, characteristics of the vocabulary.

    курс лекций [95,2 K], добавлен 05.12.2010

  • A word-group as the largest two-facet lexical unit. The aptness of a word, its lexical and grammatical valency. The lexical valency of correlated words in different languages. Morphological motivation as a relationship between morphemic structure.

    контрольная работа [17,4 K], добавлен 09.11.2010

  • One of the long-established misconceptions about the lexicon is that it is neatly and rigidly divided into semantically related sets of words. In contrast, we claim that word meanings do not have clear boundaries.

    курсовая работа [19,7 K], добавлен 30.11.2002

  • А complex comparison of morphological characteristics of English and Ukrainian verbs. Typological characteristics, classes and morphological categories of the English and Ukrainian verbs. The categories of person and number, tenses, aspect, voice, mood.

    дипломная работа [162,2 K], добавлен 05.07.2011

Работы в архивах красиво оформлены согласно требованиям ВУЗов и содержат рисунки, диаграммы, формулы и т.д.
PPT, PPTX и PDF-файлы представлены только в архивах.
Рекомендуем скачать работу.