Marchand's analysis of back-formation revisited: Back-formation as a type of conversion

Akiko Nagano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Marchand (1960; 1969) presents a unique analysis of back-formation (e.g., editorN > editV) as a combination of zero-derivation (editorN > editorV) and clipping (editorV > editorV). This paper will take a closer look at his analysis and argue that its revised version, which uses the notion of conversion rather than zero-derivation, is superior to the mainstream analyses of back-formation. Citing a lot of instances of back-formed verbs, we will show that back-formation does not necessarily delete an affix (e.g., liaisonN > liaiseV) and that it is semantically parallel not to affixation (e.g., filmN > filmizeV) but to conversion (e.g., refereeN > refereeV). Almost all the preceding analyses fail to deal with these facts, for they are based on the assumption that backformation deletes a (supposed) affix, or it is the reverse of affixation. Our new analysis, on the other hand, is free from this traditional assumption and can account for various properties of back-formation, including the above two, in terms of general characteristics of conversion and clipping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-72
Number of pages40
JournalActa Linguistica Hungarica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar


  • Affix deletion
  • Back-formation
  • Clipping
  • Constructional iconicity
  • Zero-derivation/conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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