The causes that made conversion so widely spread are to be approached diachronically.
Nouns and verbs have become identical in form firstly as a result of the loss of endings. When endings had disappeared phonetic development resulted in the merging of sound forms for both elements of these pairs, e.g. carian (v). caru (n) > care (vt n): lufu (n). lufian (v) > love (n. v).
Thus, from the diachronic point of view distinction should be made between homonymous word-pairs, which appeared as a result of the loss of inflections, and those formed by conversion.
The diachronic semantic analysis of a conversion pair reveals that in the course of time the semantic structure of the base may acquire a new meaning or several meanings under the influence of the meanings of the convened word. This semantic process is called reconversion,e.g.smoke (n) — smoke (v). The noun smoke acquired in 1715 the meaning of “the act of smoke coming out into a room instead of passing up the chimney' under the influence of the meaning of the verb smoke ‘to emit smoke as the result of imperfect draught or improper burning', acquired by this verb in 1663.
14.Patterns of conversion. Typical semantic relations in conversion. Conversion is one of the principal ways of forming words in Modem English. It is highly productive in replenishing the English word-stock with new words. Conversionconsists in making a new word from some existing word by changing the category of a part of speech: the morphemic shape of the original word remains unchanged, e.g. work — to work, paper — to paper. The new word acquires a meaning, which differs from that of the original one though it can be easily associated with it. The converted word acquires also a new paradigm and a new syntactic function, which are peculiar to its new category as a part of speech, e.g. garden — to garden.
Among the main varieties of conversion are: I) verbalization (the formation of verbs), to ape (from ape n.); 2) substantivation(the form-n of nouns), a private (from private adj.);adjectivation (the form-n of adjectives), down (adj) (from down adv.); 4) adverbalizalion(the f-n of adverbs), - home (adv.) (from home n.).
Verbs convened from nouns - denominal verbs.If the noun refers to some object of reality the converted verb may denote:
-action characteristic of the object: ape n. > ape v. ‘imitate in a foolish wav’;
-instrumental use of the object: whip n. > whip v. ‘strike with a w hip':
-acquisition or addition of the object: fish n. > fish v. ‘catch or try to catch fish*;
-deprivation of the object: dust n. > dust v. remove dust from smth;
-location:n. pocket > pocket v. ‘put into one’s pocket’.
Nouns converted from verbs - deverbal substantives.If the verb refers to an action, the converted noun may denote:
-instance of the action: jump v. > jump n. ‘sudden spring from the ground’;
-agent of the action: help v. > help n. ‘a person who helps’;
-place of the action: drive v. > drive n. ‘a path or road along which one drives’:
-result of the action: peel v. > peel n. ‘the outer skin of fruit or potatoes taken off;
-object of the action: let v. > let n. ‘a property available for rent’.
In case of polysemantic words one and the same member of a
conversion pair may belong to several groups. For example, the deverbal substantive slide is referred to the group denoting ‘place of the action' in the meaning ‘a stretch of smooth ice or hard snow on which people slide' and to the group ‘agent of the action'