Semantic Relationships in Conversion

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The change in syntactic function and paradigm, i.e. in distribution, that the stem undergoes in conversion is obvious from the examples. As to the semantic changes, they are at first sight somewhat chaotic. Many authors have pointed out that dust v means lto remove dust from smth* and also the opposite, i.e. 'to powder', 'to cover with smth' (e. g. to dust a cake with sugar); stone v means 'to throw stones at1, 'to put to death by throwing stones at1 and also 'to remove the stones' (from fruit). A closer investigation will show, however, some signs of patterned relationships, especially if one observes semantically related groups. The lexical meaning of the verb points out the instrument, the agent, the place, the cause, the result and the time of action. The examples below serve only to illustrate this, the classification should be also borne in mind that the verbs are mostly polysemantic and have other meanings in addition to those indicated. Like other verbs creating a vivid image they often receive a permanent metaphorical meaning. Verbs based on nouns denoting some part of the human body will show a re-gularity of instrumental meaning, even though the polyse¬mantic ones among them will render other meanings as well, e. g. eye 'to watch carefully' (with eyes); finger 'to touch with the fingers1; hand lto give or help with the hand": elbow *to push or force one's way with the elbows'; toe 'to touch, reach or kick with the toes'. The verb head conforms to this pattern too as alongside its most frequent meaning 'to be at the head of, and many others,it possesses the meaning 'to strike with one's head' (as in football). The same type of instrumental relations will be noted in stems de¬noting various tools, machines and weapons: to hammer, to knife, to ma¬chine-gun, to pivot, to pump, to rivet, to sandpaper, to saw, to spur, 158

to flash-light, to wheel, to free-wheel (said about a car going with the engine switched off), or more...
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