The Semantics of German Verb Prefixes

27 Mar

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Title: The Semantics of German Verb Prefixes

Author: Robert B. Dewell

Series Title: Human Cognitive Processing 49

Published: 2015

Publisher: John Benjamins

Book URL:


The Semantics of German Verb Prefixes is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken in this area of German grammar. Using an extensive collection of naturally occurring data, the author proposes an image-schematic interpretation for each of the productive prefixes be-, ver-, er-, ent-, zer-, um-, über-, unter-, and durch-. These abstract semantic patterns underlie a remarkable range of particular meanings, and they consistently account for subtle contrasts between prefixed verbs and alternative constructions such as simple verbs, particle verbs, and verbs with other prefixes. Furthermore, the author develops a schematic meaning for the prefixed verb construction itself. This grammatical meaning reflects the interpreter’s perspective and attentional focus as the objective event is imagined to unfold. Underlying all of these proposals is a novel conception of meaning as a dynamic and flexible process with a constantly active role for the interpreter. This volume will be of great value to cognitive linguists as well as scholars and students of German who want to gain insights into a central and puzzling part of the morphosyntax and semantics of the German language.

Table of Contents

List of figures xi
List of tables xii
Preface xiii – xiv
Introduction 1 – 10
Chapter 1. Route-path prefixes and basic concepts 11 – 52
Chapter 2. Be- 53 – 100
Chapter 3. Ent- 101 – 126
Chapter 4. Er- 127 – 164
Chapter 5. Zer- 165 – 176
Chapter 6. Ver- 177 – 228
Chapter 7. The system of prefixes 229 – 272
References 273 – 276
Index of subjects and names 277 – 278
Index of verbs, prefixes and particles 279 – 28


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