Given a sentence "Someone has to walk the shore and map the island, see what else there is". The "map" word is a verb, but it's commonly used as noun, i.e., in most of dictionaries, the first word sense for "map" is tagged as noun, and it's then followed by a verb sense.

  1. How do we usually call this usage of "map"? is it denominalization?
  2. Is there any online collection/ resource publicly available for a such of usage?
  • 2
    Did you mean denominalization?
    – fenceop
    Nov 11 '14 at 15:21

In English the categories of noun and verb aren't that clearly cut. You can use most nouns as verbs, if the semantic information you intend to transmit is understood. This usage is completely normal and regular: to give a contrived example, you could say English is nouning verbs (forced chuckles abound).

This is usually considered derivation by way of a zero morpheme, if you force a word to be one class. You can think of it like this: you have a noun, map (n), and a zero derivational morpheme that changes nouns to verbs, verbs to nouns, whatever. You attach it to the noun, making map-Ø (v), and get a verb, map (v). It's a convoluted analysis and we don't really need it to understand what's going on but it's there for whoever wants it.

Many nouns and/or verbs can be used like this: kill (v) becoming kill (n), sleep (v) becoming sleep (n). This is mostly a relic of older morphology being washed away by sound change. Note that this is impossible with noun-verb pairs that are already established and made with non-zero morphemes or suppletion. An example of that would be die (v) and death (n).

The meaning of such derived elements is usually quite related to what they're derived from: pen (v) means write down something, by extension from pen (n), kill (n) denotes a killed prey by extension from kill (v), sleep (n) is the state of sleeping, from sleep (v). Even your own example, map (v), means making a map of an area - this is extrapolated from its origin in map (n).

  • Make of this what you want, I guess. There are other explanations that require much deeper analyses, and explanations that are more shallow. This one is, in my opinion, the most elegant one I've seen.
    – Darkgamma
    Nov 11 '14 at 10:39

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