Contact Us


Frequently Asked Questions

ETD Help

Policies and Procedures

Copyright and Patents

Access Restrictions

Search ETDs:
Advanced Search
Browse by:
Browse ProQuest
Search ProQuest

Laney Graduate School

Rollins School of Public Health

Candler School of Theology

Emory College

Emory Libraries

New ETD website is now LIVE and located here:

The Role of Syntax in Word Conversion: Uses and Limits of a Corpus-Based Approach to Converted Denominal Verbs

Denlinger, Kristin Grace (2014)
Honors Thesis (46 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Wolff, Phillip
Committee Members: Pak, Marjorie ; Hary, Benjamin
Research Fields: Language, Linguisitcs; Psychology, Cognitive
Keywords: Conversion; Denominal Verbs; Deverbial Nouns; Linguistics; Directionality; Derivation; Nerb; Word Formation; Syntax; Syntax-Semantics; Corpus
Program: College Honors Program, Linguistics
Permanent url:


The current literature on denominal verb conversion has been dominated by subjective theories and has emphasized the semantic nature of the process. Hale and Keyser's theories of lexical noun incorporation and conflation uniquely suggest that syntax is a significant factor in the formation of denominal verbs. The present thesis aims to utilize empirical data to evaluate the legitimacy of these syntactic theories. The data originates from a syntactic parsing of Wikipedia, which includes information on frequency counts, types of verbal argument structures, and nominal roles of denominal verbs. Through the use of this data, it is argued that these theories can only be understood in the context of a dynamic and diachronic conversion process, in which semantic, syntactic and frequency factors of the converted pair are subject to change. The implications for this modified theory are discussed.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction 1

a. The Present Thesis 2

II. Intuitions Supporting Syntax in Conversion 4

a. Syntax in Lexical Categories 4

b. Syntax in Lexical Decomposition 5

c. Syntax in Categories of Denominal Verbs 7

III. Conversion Independent of Syntax 8
IV. Syntactic Theories of Conversion 11

a. Movement-based Incorporation 11

b. Manner Incorporation 13

c. Merge-like Conflation 14

V. New Implications for Syntactic Conversion Theories 15

VI. Categorization in Corpus Parsing 16

VII. Conversion as Innovation Rather Than Derivation 21

VIII. Directionality Continuum as a Model for the Institutionalization Process 22

IX. Semantic and Syntactic Change over Time 27

X. Implications for Syntactic Theories 29
XI. Conclusions and Future Research 31
References 33
Appendix 36
Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.