Article published in:Corpus Interrogation and Grammatical Patterns
Edited by Kristin Davidse, Caroline Gentens, Lobke Ghesquière and Lieven Vandelanotte
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 63] 2014
► pp. 35–55
What happened to the English prefix, and could it stage a comeback?
This paper revisits the historical shift in English verb-particle combinations from prefixed to prepositional and adverbial forms based on qualitative and quantitative examples from the Helsinki and Wycliffe corpora collected during a study on the history of verb-particle combinations (Diemer 2008). It is argued that the reasons for the disappearance of the English prefix are more complex than previously thought. The paper proposes a combination of competition-based and systemic reasons while allowing for additional influence by other developments, such as verb frequency and spelling habits. Excerpts from corpus-based studies (Diemer 2009, 2013) show that the development is not irreversible, since due to the influence of computer-mediated communication there may be a revival of prefix verbs modelled after Old English templates.
Published online: 14 November 2014
Los, B., Blom, C., Booij, G., Elenbaas, M. & van Kemenade, A.