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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 4: Theoretical Foundations and Methodology

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Chapter 4

Theoretical Foundations and Methodology

In this chapter I will discuss the theoretical assumptions that underlie the analysis presented in this book. A great deal of aspect-related theoretical frameworks and problems have already been discussed in chapter 2, so this chapter will deal with those theoretical foundations that have not previously been discussed. These are grammaticalization theory and lexicalization theory.

4.1 Grammaticalization (and Lexicalization) Theory

The grammaticalization theory as expounded in the textbooks such as Lehmann (2002 [1982, 1995]) and Hopper & Traugott 2003 [1993] seems to offer a good descriptive framework for accounting for changes in grammar. This theory has its origins in the 18th century (Heine et al. 1991: 5ff and Lindström 2004: 39ff).

It has to be stressed that grammaticalization is a theory only in the sense that it helps to explain “how and why grammatical categories arise and develop” (Heine 2003: 578), but much like cognitive linguistics is not a theory but rather an approach to language, in a similar vein

“Grammaticalization theory is neither a theory of language nor of language change; its goal is to describe grammaticalization, that is, the way grammatical forms develop through space and time, and to explain why they are structured the way they are”

(Heine 2003: 575)

In other words, it is a research framework with a tradition that has been culminating in the past three decades, parallel...

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