I was just reading a book where it is said that when perfect started to acquire modern meanings, "compound" verbs appeared. Here are some examples (I`m assuming with "compound" verbs on the right):

ceorfan (cut) - āceorfan (cut off)
swapan (sweep) - for-swapan (sweep away)

What was their role? Were they the alternative to pefect in some areas?

I`ve looked into it more carefully and it is said that at the time when perfect started to acquire modern meanings, lexical units and prefixes of Old English, which marked completness and precedence (for past perfect) began to disappear quickly. That probably made perfect more popular. But then, they say, in the same dialects where perfect had the most influence (north), these "compound" verbs began to appear. And they "much more accurately than perfect replaced Old English prefixation in terms of word-formation, but not that much it terms of aspect".

  • 1
    you must've misunderstood. The perfective aspect of the prefix for- must have existed early (as it is likewise observable in German) and "dissapeared quickly" applies to it, or have you ever seen for-sweep? There is a fore-gone conclusion, alright.
    – vectory
    Dec 12 '19 at 23:49
  • To deny @victory 's observation is for-bidden (commanded away). Dec 14 '19 at 0:21
  • @victory confuses forego with forgo, perhaps intentionally for the pun. Feb 21 '20 at 21:06

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