Major Total Conversion in English: The Question of Directionality
This research investigates the directionality of major total conversion in English, where major total conversion is defined as the process and at the same time as the result of deriving a new lexical item by altering the part of speech of the base without marking the alteration overtly, as in the presumed pair dry – to dry. The question is whether there is a reliable strategy for deciding which member of a pair is the base and which member is the converted counterpart. Various attempts had been made to resolve the controversial directional issue, but the results have been inconsistent. The investigation aims to discover whether or not there exists a coherent notion about how to decide directionality by considering four factors assumed in the literature to reflect directionality. A large corpus of potential examples of major total conversion was collected to act as test materials. The four factors were compared for each major total conversion pair to see to what extent there was agreement among them. Results showed the factors did not agree to the expected extent. The findings are discussed in detail and it is claimed the inconsistencies can often be explained with recourse to a few general principles. In conclusion, on the whole the four factors considered are consistent with one another. In other words, the notion about how to determine directionality in major total conversion is coherent and can be maintained for English.