Conversion in Hungarian
This paper deals with one of the main issues in the history of parts of speech in Hungarian: that concerning how the individual word classes get expanded, in what way(s) new items emerge within, or are added to, a given word class. Related research has focussed on the various ways of word formation (compounding, derivation, lexicalisation of suffixed forms, etc.). Most parts of speech, however, get expanded in another manner, too: by way of conversion. For instance, adverbs like 'reggel' (in the morning) were converted into nouns (morning), adverbs like 'hátra' (to the back) into preverbs (back), adverbs like 'ha' (whether), 'hogy' (how) into conjunctions (if, that), adverbial participles like 'múlva' (having passed) into postpositions (some amount of time; later), etc. This paper explores that process of conversion. The phenomenon has received a number of interpretations in the international literature; the present author uses the term in a restricted sense. She argues for the claim that 'zero derivation', 'derivation by a zero morpheme' does not result in a new lexical item in Hungarian, hence it is not an instance of lexicalisation, but rather it produces a new sense and thereby a new part-of-speech affiliation of an existing lexical item (she discusses the issues of polysemy and homonymy in passing). The paper raises a number of problems with respect to conversion and concludes with a tabular summary of the major directions of conversion in Hungarian: which parts of speech may serve as its sources and which may serve as its targets.
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