“Corpus Linguistics: past and present”

Ceri Davies: A Corpus-Based Investigation of Noun to Verb Conversion in English


Noun to verb conversion is a highly productive process in English, and is exploited regularly by English users for a variety of reasons. Previous studies of the phenomenon have concentrated on the formal issues raised by the process and have been theoretical rather than empirical. This thesis takes a corpus-based approach, and focuses on the use of noun to verb conversions in real language data.

The thesis takes the form of five related investigative studies: in the first study, ‘partial’ conversion is explored and new categories are devised to account for the phenomenon. In the second study, I investigate the possible variables affecting the productivity of proper noun to verb conversions, and establish a set of factors that help to show the reasons why some proper noun types are more susceptible to conversion than others. The third study investigates the factors inhibiting the productivity of the process and establishes a hierarchy of those factors. The fourth study explores new conversions in their immediate context and shows how users integrate these forms into text and the extent to which they require contextualisation for their comprehension. The final section explores the previous findings of the new and established conversions, and suggests a categorisation system.

The thesis shows, using corpus-driven analysis, how and why conversions are used by language users and the reasons why some nouns are more likely to be converted than others.

Read It

Thesis (PDF) [1.3MB]
Appendices (PDF) [0.4MB]

Thesis submitted in accordance with the requirements of the University of Liverpool for the degree of Doctor in Philosophy by Ceri Davies. October, 2004.
Supervised by Prof. Antoinette Renouf.

This thesis appears here with the permission of the University of Liverpool and the author.