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Aspectual Prefixes in Early English

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Vlatko Broz

This book primarily examines verbal prefixes expressing aspectuality in the Old and Middle English periods, but it also takes a look at the post-verbal particles in the subsequent periods of English. Verbal prefixes are also known as preverbs such as ge- in the Old English verb gegladian «cheer up» or ā- in the Old English verb āstreccan «stretch out». Prefixed verbs in Old English are said to be the functional equivalents and predecessors of phrasal verbs in Modern English. One of the aims of the research presented in this book was to consider how no longer productive Old English verbal prefixes such as ge-, ā- and for- were used in the past to express verbal aspect. In this study two avenues of research converge, one covering aspect, the other covering verbal prefixes and particles.
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Chapter 2: Aspects of Aspect

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Chapter 2

Aspects of Aspect

This chapter examines different aspects of aspect in ten thematic subsections. It starts with a discussion of the complexity of aspectual studies and reviews several definitions of aspect in the literature. This is followed by exemplifying explicit forms of encoding aspectual meaning in Modern English, as well as in other languages in the world. Then it briefly outlines the history of studying aspect, which is important in order to understand the problems of differences in opinions and interpretations of this challenging linguistic issue. Furthermore, the distinction between aspect and aktionsart is explained in section 2.5. There is also a short insight into the theory of chronogenesis which accounts for the development of tense and aspect systems in Indo-European languages.

The current chapter also takes a closer look at aspect in Slavic languages which gave rise to many aspect theories and play a significant role in the studies of aspect. A brief look is taken at Old Church Slavonic, followed by an in-depth look at the “irregularities” of aspect in Croatian as an example of a Slavic language. This section is important because of the contrastive analysis carried out in the subsequent chapters, as well as the hypothesis that Old English aspectual preverbs in many ways resemble Modern Slavic verbal prefixes. The next subsection contains a discussion of aspect in Germanic languages, starting with Gothic which is contrasted with Old English in a few examples. Finally, there...

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