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Verb as base

Alle prefixes that derive verbs on a verbal basis have a Germanic origin. Three of them are particularly productive: be-, fer- and ûnt-. In a quite abstract sense, be- and ûnt- could be considered as each other's opposites. The prefix be- can be said to represent a movement towards something, where ûnt- rather denotes a movement away from something. The prefix fer- is harder to characterize, but might occupy an intermediate position in that it often denotes a transition. The semantic contribution of these very productive suffixes is often hard to establish, however. In many cases, their only function is to change the subcategorization frame. Note that these three prefixes are so powerful that they are the only ones that may also take nominal and adjectival bases.

In comparison, the other prefixes only play a minor role. The prefix wjer- has a reciprocal meaning. Mis- and wan- can be characterized as negative, whereas te- is more specifically destructive.


More details about the individual prefixes can be obtained by following the corresponding links. In alphabetical order: