Keywords: contrastive linguistics, conversion, morphology, word formation, zero morpheme.
The status of conversions is a long-standing question within morphological theory. Investigating the selectional properties of conversions may help us to shed light on their controversial status as compared to the other morphological processes. In the paper, conversions in two different but cognate languages, Italian and German, are investigated with the aim of identifying commonalities and differences with respect to their suffixal competitors. The results suggest that conversions should be looked at by taking into consideration the dichotomy proposed by Vogel (2005) between lexical multifunctionality and zero-derivation, which leads to opposite interpretations depending on the lexical domain considered.