From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Sat Apr 14 2001 - 10:54:53 EDT

Iver responding to Mark:
You said:
> To me, a "preposition" is a part of speech; a "prefix" is not a part of
> speech. You can have a preposition affixed to the beginning of a word, in
> which case it is called a "prefix."

Yes, I would agree that a preposition is a part of speech and a prefix is not. In normal
linguistic terminology, a prefix is not a word, but part of one. It is not just affixed to
the beginning, it becomes an integral part of the verb and therefore loses its independent
status as a word.
> I guess it just seems to me that ANA is treated as a preposition in the
> Greek NT, regardless of whether or not it functions as an adverb or
> adjective.
> ANA, by itself, can only function as a preposition, right? If used in
> compounds, it can function like a preposition, adverb, or adjective, right?

The second statement is not in accordance with normal linguistic terminology, because when
it is a prefix it has no independent function.
> Also, it seems to me that the comment Alan made was that ANA functioned in
> the sense of "up" or "upward" by virtue of the fact that it was prefixed to
> a particular verb. Obviously ANA can mean "again," but not when attached to
> the verbal STASIS.

Yes, and this is the tricky part, and I am sure you are well aware of that. It often
happens that a verbal prefix, which may well have been an adverb originally as Carl
explained, adds to the semantics of a verb the same sense that it has when standing alone.
Of course, some prepositions have a very wide range of meanings, and in those cases, only
a few of them are carried over to the semantic meaning of the verb. So it is better to
treat a prefixed verb as a unit in its own right.

Let me give a couple of examples from Danish whish are similar to the one Carl mentioned
from German.

To "staa op" in Danish means to "stand up" or to "get up". The word "op" is an adverb, not
a preposition.
To "opstaa" means to "resurrect" (corresponding to the Greek word under discussion.)

To "saette over" means to "cross over", e.g. a river.
To "oversaette" means to "translate".

It is intriguing from a historical linguistic point of view how some of these compounded
verbs have strayed in meaning from the meaning of the original parts in isolation. I
believe the same principle applies to Greek, so one can be helped by looking at the
meaning of the preposition/adverb but one needs to be very careful in drawing conclusions
about the meaning of a compound verb from the meaning of its parts.

English has the same phenomenon because of its Germanic roots, but much less pronounced,
as when you compare "to stand under" and "to take over" with "to understand" and "to
overtake". Many Greek examples could be quoted, but let me just take one: HUPOSTASIS in
Heb 11:1 is difficult and may refer to "essence" or possibly "assurance" or "foundation",
but in spite of its parts it has nothing to do with "understanding", although it is
related in some way to "stand under".

Just a linguistic comment about a fascinating aspect of language,
Iver Larsen

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