PGmc Prefix

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Last edit: 19:25, 28 January 2013

Prefix for-[edit]

Hi CodeCat. How should we treat the Proto-Germanic prefixes coalescing into English for- (Dutch/German ver-, etc.). As I see it, there were at least 2 distinct ones in PGmc: fra- and far-/fer-/fur- (?). As your usage note states, only Gothic preserved the distinction (fra- and frai- ?). So please help me understand. Which is the intensive prefix (= "through, completely, fully") and which denotes "away from, off, from"? Also, which standardised form should we use for the variants far-/fer-fur- (are there any differences between them)?

19:20, 28 January 2013

Gothic actually preserves three: fra-, faur- and fair- (from *fra-, *fur- and *fir-/fer-). *fra- definitely meant "away" and it seems that it was the most common one. I'm not sure what the other two meant.

19:22, 28 January 2013

ok. What has me stumped is the Gothic frabairan "to endure" which has the form of the one meaning "away", but the meaning of the intensive (i.e. frabairan = to bear through= endure). Ok, maybe I will look through Gothic at individual words to try and gain some insight into what the others meant...

19:28, 28 January 2013

Philippa's dictionary says this:

In ver- zijn drie verschillende voorvoegsels samengevallen, namelijk Proto-Germaans *fra-, *fur- en *fer-, die alleen in de oudste Germaanse taal, het Gotisch, nog te onderscheiden zijn, als resp. fra- ‘weg van’, faur(a)- ‘voor’ en fair- (met onduidelijke betekenis, slechts in een klein aantal woorden).
In [Dutch] ver- three different prefixes have merged, namely Proto-Germanic *fra-, *fur- and *fer-, that are only distinguishable in the oldest Germanic language, Gothic, as respectively fra- "away from", faur(a)- "before [for?]" and fair- (with unclear meaning, only in a small amount of words).

I wondered at first whether it would be fir- instead because unstressed e becomes i, but it doesn't change before -r so maybe that also applied here.

19:29, 28 January 2013

ok, so I will begin using fer- for what Koebler has far- for (he does note that they are variants of one another). The faur- = "fore-" makes sense to me (I count this as a separate prefix altogether) but I wonder whether Gothic may have also experienced some merging into fra-, and that fair- was a relic.

19:33, 28 January 2013

Will this then work: fra- = (far) away (from), off; fur- = fore-, before; fer- = completely, fully, up?

19:36, 28 January 2013

I don't think that is right. *fra- also meant "completely". I think it is best described as a "perfective" prefix.

Going back to PIE, *fra- comes from *pro-, *fur- from *pr- (related to *fura, *furi, German für) and *fer- from *per(i)- (Latin per).

19:39, 28 January 2013

Also, if you consider the regular operations of sound laws, Germanic unstressed -er- remains and doesn't become -ir- (while unstressed -e- otherwise does become -i-). But in most words -er- later appears as -ar-, especially in West Germanic. So it's possible for West Germanic *far- to derive from earlier *fer-. Gothic *fair- can come from either *fer- or *fir-. The appearance of *fir- in West Germanic doesn't have to be significant, because *ta also appears as *ti and *ga- as *gi-, so it seems that prefixes involving *a generally became merged with *i fairly early already. The same could have happened with *fur- too.

Also compare *twiz- and *tuz-, which may give some more insight in how vowels developed in prefixes.

19:45, 28 January 2013

Thanks :)

20:20, 28 January 2013