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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 8: Conclusion

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Chapter 8

Conclusion

The aim of this study was to examine if and how aspect is expressed in English by means of preverbs and post-verbal particles, thus contributing to the longstanding debate about aspect in English, as well as understanding aspect in diachrony.

The theoretical approach taken in this discussion has, of necessity, been wide ranging. The immense scholarship on aspect over the past few centuries has produced a number of ideas that have been discussed at length, but certainly not exhaustively. These ideas have been backed up by some recent theories such as grammaticalization theory and diachronic construction grammar.

In the discussion of the category of aspect – the development of the concept and the term – it must be noted that the term underwent a loan translation (or calquing) process twice: first from Greek eidos ‘form, kind’ to Russian vid ‘viewpoint’, and then to French aspect. Such stretching of the term’s meaning is also reflected in the understanding of what this category actually constitutes.

Expressing aspect by means of particles and preverbs is more common in languages around the world than by inflectional means. The latter is manifested only in Slavic languages and only a few others. However, Slavic languages also make use of prefixes to express aspect, where these prefixes can act like inflections.

The contrastive analysis with Slavic performed in this research did not involve stretching English on the Procrustean bed of Slavic,...

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