The category of aspect in OE

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The category of aspect. Until recently it was believed that in
OE the category of aspect was expressed by the regular contrast
of the verbs with and without the prefix ge- to denote completed
and non-completed action respectively.
E.g. feohtan – gefeohtan (fight – gain by fighting)
li:cian – geli:cian (like – come to like)
But this prefix does not only have the meaning of perfective
action. it can change the lexical meaning of a verb (sittan (sit) –
gesittan (occupy)
beran (bear) – geberan (bear a child)

so far from indicating a completed action, many verbs with
ge- denoted a repeated action:
E.g. many oft gecwæð - many (people often said)
Ge- also appears to be an element of word-building, not only of
form-building, it is a derivational prefix of vague general meaning.
There were also some other means of expressing aspective
meanings, for example the beginnings of the analytical forms –
verb phrases habban, beo:n, weorðan (become) + P I (denoting a
prolonged state or action) or P II (a state resulting from a previous
completed action):
E.g. Ðær wæ:ron sume of ðæm bo:cerum sittende – there were
some of those learned men sitting.
Hie: hæfdon ða heora stefn gesettenne. – They had that term
finished.
These phrases did not yet form regular oppositions with the
simple forms and cannot be treated as members of grammatical
categories.
feohtan – gefeohtan
(fight – gain by
fighting)
līcian – gelīcian
(like – come to like)
_________________
sittan (sit) – gesittan
(occupy)
beran (bear) –
geberan
(bear a child)
many oft gecwæð many (people) often
said
Ðær wæron sume of
ðæm bōcerum
sittende – There were
some of those
learned men sitting.
Hiēhæfdon ða heora
stefn gesettenne. –
They had that term
finished.
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