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Many English words have their definitions change depending on their parts of speech:

"type" (noun) = classification of something. (verb) = to peck-away as a keyboard.
"blue" (noun) = a color. (adj) = depressed, melancholy.

But, in the case of Japanese、are there any nouns that can also function as another part of speech? サ変動詞 do not count.

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Well, in English, the sheer amount of zero-derivation is probably possible because English has largely lost its inflectional system. In Japanese, on the other hand, it's hard to (say) zero-convert a noun to a verb unless it ends in something like る (e.g. ダブる or ググる), or an adjective unless it ends in い (like セクしい), and so on... –  snailboat Sep 26 '13 at 17:02
ok. So, because of inflection, nouns cannot be verbs or adjectives, but what else could a noun be? Until I completely understand 連体詞 、 the only assertion I could make about 品詞 is that "regardless of surrounding context, a Japanese noun will always be a noun", right? This forum has had great discussions about 連体詞 so I slogging through those threads. But, it could be that the difficulty of understanding 連体詞 far outweighs the importance of 品詞 in Japanese grammar。 –  kinyo Sep 26 '13 at 17:50
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

To some degree, 形容動詞 can flip between nouns and adjectives, but this is largely due to the fact that the morphology is nearly identical (the one difference is である vs な for modifying other nouns). There is also a very small number of loan nouns that already look like verbs and so are slangishly used as verbs (e.g. ググル>ググる).

Beyond those, zero-derivation pretty much never happens. The reason for this is primarily the fact that most kinds of words are required to have a certain form even in an uninflected state - for example, verbs have to end with -u (and the number of consonants before that is restricted, you can't have -yu), 形容詞 have to end in -Vi, etc. This is why する has to be added to most nouns to make verbs - not because it's required to explicitly mark nouns being used as verbs, but because most nouns can't be used as verbs as they lack the proper form.

(also, your English examples aren't really the best - something better might be 'table', where the noun and verb definitions are clearly related (i.e. it's not just homophony, like 'type' and 'type').)

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Are there some nouns with one, or more, kanji that must use 送り仮名? –  kinyo Sep 26 '13 at 18:19
a noun ググル? You mean グーグル? –  dainichi Sep 27 '13 at 0:44
I guess it is long, but when you make it a verb it gets short. As for nouns with okurigana, I'm -sure- there are some that aren't nominalised verbs, but I can't think of any at the moment. –  Sjiveru Sep 27 '13 at 0:54
@Sjiveru 後ろ has okurigana but doesn't appear to be a deverbal noun. –  snailboat Sep 27 '13 at 2:05
ok. 「感じ」 is a noun with 送り仮名, so certainly there are (many) more. But, I bet that 送り仮名 is almost always used with the 訓読み readings of 漢字、which means 送り仮名 would normally be associated with nouns that use only one 漢字。 While 「かん」 is the 音 reading of 「感」、I still think of 送り仮名 is mostly used with 訓読み。Anyway, I've never thought about Japanese like this. thanks. –  kinyo Sep 27 '13 at 2:15
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