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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 5: An Analysis of the Preverb a-

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Chapter 5

An Analysis of the Preverb a-

5.1 Introduction

This chapter will discuss the Old English verbal prefix a-, which is no longer productive in Modern English, but survives in a number of lexical relics such as the univerbated forms arise, awake or ashame. For present-day speakers of English the meaning of this fossilized morpheme is not transparent.

After a brief overview of how the meaning of the prefix a- is explained in the literature, this chapter investigates the etymology of a-, followed by a subchapter that illustrates the most frequent function of a-, which is that of a perfectivizer. This subchapter also compares a-prefixed verbs with their prefixless counterparts in context. The next subchapter examines completive and resultative meanings of a-, followed by two subchapters that explore inchoative and instantaneous meanings of a- respectively. Then there is a subchapter that shows the results of a contrastive analysis of a-prefixed verbs: Old English is contrasted with Modern English and with Croatian, presenting the correspondences of the prefix a- to Modern English post-verbal particles in a map. The following subchapter is dedicated to a brief analysis of the prefix a- co-occurring with particles. The next two subchapters briefly show the use of the prefix a- in Middle English. Finally, some conclusions are reached and discussed in the last section of this chapter.

One of the main objectives of this chapter is to investigate a range of meanings...

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