What is a short explanation of conversion as a morphological device?

Conversion is the process by which a new word is created from an existing word. In conversion, the existing word's morphological structure (its form) does not change at all. Rather, speakers attach a new meaning to the word and often change its part of speech.

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A short explanation of conversion as a morphological device is that it consists of using a word exactly as it is and turning it into a new word with a different context and category but without changing anything in the original. This is why conversion is known as "null derivation"...

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A short explanation of conversion as a morphological device is that it consists of using a word exactly as it is and turning it into a new word with a different context and category but without changing anything in the original. This is why conversion is known as "null derivation" or "zero derivation:" it means to be used in a different grammatical function but without alterations.

In other words, when a word is converted, it only changes its role as a part of speech. Its original form and meaning do not change. Still, this change as a part of speech transforms the word into something new. This is why conversion is one of the key basis of language expansion and formation—it is all about transforming the context of familiar terms.

Conversion is a process that could be fun for some, because it allows flexibly and creativity in the use of daily vocabulary. Essentially, you can take one word and create a completely new context to use it. This is why conversions are often used for slang and puns. It can be compared to a play on words, where we can take advantage of one word to produce two definitions without changing its form and meaning.

Let's show some examples of conversions. You will notice that, as time changes and more words are coined, conversion continues to allow further expansion of vocabulary.

Noun to verb (verbification):

"Are you going to divorce me?"

From a morphological point of view, the original word divorce remains intact. The term itself has not changed, and it holds the same meaning. The conversion here happens when the noun divorce is used as a verb.

"I am eyeing the price of that item."

Again, the original word eye does not lose any meaning or form, and the morpheme -ing is just used to indicate tense.

Adjective to noun:

Adjective: "This is my final test."

Noun: "The Red Sox are going to the MLB Finals."

Preposition to noun:

Preposition: "Look up, fall down."

Noun: "Life is a series of ups and downs."

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In linguistics, the term conversion is the formation of a new word that is a part of speech different from its exact copy (i.e., the original word). In other words, a later definition and use of a word is derived from its earlier definition and use—but its form stays the same.

Morphology is the study of the form of things. In biology, morphology is the study of organisms’ structures and how they function. In linguistics, morphology is the study of the formation of words and their structures (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, and roots). As a morphological device, conversion is the use of a word’s unchanged structure to create a new word with a related meaning that is used as a different part of speech.

For example, in the days before text messaging, the word text was (and still is) used primarily as a noun referring to printed material (e.g., books, etc.) and words (as opposed to illustrations). When analyzing a poem, a person closely examines the piece’s text (e.g., words, diction). Today, however, text is often used as a verb, as in “Can you text me the information?” and “I can’t believe I texted them that photo!” The word text still can act as a noun (“Please send me a text”), but it also can act as an adjective or modifier (“That text message you sent was hilarious!”).

Conversion often is gradual and results in colloquial language or slang. For many years, the word ask was frequently used as a verb; it still is today, but it also can be used as a noun to mean “a request.” People might use it to emphasize a request is onerous and often unwelcome, as in “You want a raise? That is a big ask!”

Another verb often used as a noun is fail. A person may say “fail” to mean “failure” in casual situations and to describe especially laughable mistakes (“Our prank flopped—what an epic fail!”). A third example of a verb transformed into a noun is reveal. Instead of using the word revelation, people nowadays like to say “the reveal” or even “the big reveal.” Social gatherings where expectant parents disclose the sex of their future baby are known as “gender-reveal parties” or simply “gender reveals.”

Conversion also describes nouns that are used as verbs. For many years, the primary meaning of the noun ghost has been an apparition of a dead person. Less frequently, the word ghost is used as a verb meaning “to ghostwrite” or “to glide.” More often today, the term ghost means to cut off contact and disappear, as in “I never heard anything—no calls, no texts—from him again after a few dates; he ghosted me.”

A second example is the word architect. Most people know this term as a noun describing a person who designs buildings or computer programs/IT systems. However, in her book Women Who Work, Ivanka Trump uses the word as a verb (“women benefit immeasurably by architecting their lives in a way that honors and supports their relationships and pursuits outside of work”).

Be careful when using new words formed by conversion; utilizing these verb-as-noun and noun-as-verb morphological devices can make you appear too casual, trendy, sloppy, and/or pretentious.

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To answer this question, we first have to understand the terms used in it. Morphology is all about word forms and the meanings inherent in the structures of words. In morphology, linguists study topics like stems, roots, prefixes, suffixes, and parts of speech. They also explore the formation of new words by adding or subtracting elements or by changing the meanings of words by shifting the denotation of a given form.

Here's where conversion comes in. Conversion is the creation of a new word from an existing word simply by shifting its meaning and usually changing its part of speech. The word form remains exactly the same as before (nothing is added or subtracted); it just carries a new significance. Conversion occurs as a language's speakers begin to use words in new ways that are still related to previous uses but that also expand the word in new directions.

Let's look at a couple examples. Think about the word “fish.” One might immediately call to mind a swimming creature, but someone else might think of the activity of catching that swimming creature. The noun “fish” likely developed first to name the creature, but through the process of conversion, the word also came to signify the verb, the activity of catching the fish. Notice how the word's structure remains the same. Its morphology is constant. Yet its meaning has shifted to add a new dimension.

Comedians sometimes joke about how people can turn just about any word into a verb. This, too, is an example of conversion. When a mother becomes upset with a whining child who is begging for a cookie, for instance, she might exclaim in disgust, “I'll cookie you!” The mother has just used conversion. She has made the noun “cookie” into a verb without changing the morphology of the word one bit, yet her child knows exactly what she means.

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Conversion is basically a process where a new word is formed from a previously existing one without any change in the initial word's form. Nothing is added, nothing is taken away. Conversion as a morphological device occurs (mostly) naturally and constantly since it's one of the easiest ways for a language to develop—it lends itself particularly well to slang.

One example is noun-to-verb; although, it doesn't necessarily have to follow this path. To understand why conversion is such a creative and ordinary tool in word creation is to look at objects people talk about a lot. For example, the noun "google" refers to the webpage a lot of people in the world use. It's also worth noting that while the Internet is becoming an essential part of our lives, a vast share of its users are not familiar with all the tools available to them. Typing something into the address bar works the same as a Google search, but people still tend to go on the webpage itself to search for something. So it was only a matter of time that the noun "google" turned into the verb "google," meaning "to look for something through Google." Only it kept evolving from there. Now the verb "google" is also in use meaning almost any type of search activity on the web. People "google" things on Facebook. Conversion has pushed the meaning away from the source, but we can still see the path it took.

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Conversion in linguistics is the formation of new words from existing words without a change in form. An example is hoe and hoe. The first one is a noun a hoe, the second is a verb to hoe. Conversion is an established order of word formation in the classification of non-concatenative morphological processes. The other category of word formation in morphological processes is concatenative morphology.

Non-concatenative morphological processes form new words by modifying internal structure of morphemes (e.g., meaning). Concatenative morphological processes form new words by putting morphemes together (e.g., affixation, compounding).

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