Aspectual properties of the verbal prefix <i>a</i>- in Old English with reference to Gothic

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This paper is a corpus-based study of the Old English verbal prefix <i>a- </i>which is no longer productive in English today, but survives in a few lexical relics such as <i>arise, awake </i>or <i>ashamed. </i>After a brief discussion of previous research and the etymology of this prefix, the paper investigates a range of meanings and functions that the verbal prefix <i>a- </i>had in early English, showing that it was in an advanced stage of grammaticalisation and that its primary function was to express perfective aspect. The prefix is contrasted with its cognate in Gothic, as well as its equivalents in Modern English and Croatian, a Slavic language that marks aspect morphologically.


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