Preverbs: an introduction
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The notion ‘preverb’ is a traditional descriptive notion in Indo-European linguistics. It refers to morphemes that appear in front of a verb, and which form a close semantic unit with that verb. In many cases, the morpheme that functions as a preverb can also function without a preverbal context, often as an adverb or an adposition. Most linguists use the notion ‘preverb’ as a cover term for preverbal words and preverbal prefixes. The preverb may be separated from the verb whilst retaining its close cohesion with the verb, which is called ‘tmesis’. It may also develop into a bound morpheme, that is, a prefix inseparable from the verb, with concomitant reduction of phonological form in some cases. If the preverb has become a real prefix, we may use the more specific notion of ‘complex verb’, whereas we take the notion ‘complex predicate’ to refer generally to multi-morphemic expressions with verbal valency. That is, we make a terminological distinction between complex predicates and complex verbs. The latter are multi-morphemic, but behave as single grammatical words.