11
  1. appellere
    from ad- "to" + pellere "to beat, drive" (see pulse (n.1))

  2. resolvere
    "to loosen, loose, unyoke, undo; explain; relax; set free; make void, dispel,"
    from re-, perhaps intensive, or "back" + solvere "loosen" (see solve)

In verbs like the above, the prefixes appear meaningful. In (1), one does not just beat or drive, but one must beat sounds to capture someone's attention or drive (i.e. push or force) oneself to someone for attention. In (2), loosening causes a compound to loosen back into its constituents.

I ask the entitled question for verbs like the those in the 'Linked Questions' (on the right hand panel), but please answer without loss of generality.

  • 2
    Why did you include everything in <sub> tags? I find it harder to read this way. Do you mind if I suggest an edit with different formatting? – Earthliŋ Feb 26 '16 at 12:30
  • @Earthliŋ Please do. – Nic Hartley Feb 26 '16 at 13:16
9

The easiest way to think about this--and I don't understand why it isn't in any Latin textbook I've ever seen (with the exception of Alfonso Traina's work, almost unknown in America except to linguists, but alas I only have photocopies of sections so I can't refer to specific books)--is to think of Latin verbs with prefixes in the same way as English verbs that contain prepositions. (Despite the Gallic quality of your username your English is fluent, so I'm assuming that this will work for you.) The prefixes/prepositions don't always bring their literal meaning to the verb.

Take, for example, mónstró and démónstró. The difference between these seems baffling until you think about them as meaning, respectively, "show" and "point out."

Or take, as in this question, prémó and imprímó. Again, pressing already contains the idea of "against" or "in," so what gives? The answer becomes clearer when you think about them as "press" and "press into (so as to stamp or leave a mark on)," or perhaps more clearly "press" and "impress on."

It can get trickier when there's no verb + preposition equivalent in English, but it's not impossible: lacrimó is "I cry," whereas illacrimó is "I burst into tears, and amplexor is "I hug," whereas complexor is "I give (someone) a hug."

So, taking your examples of límitó and délímitó, we have "enclose (within boundaries)" and "mark out (boundaries so as to make them visible)." The sense of isn't literally there, but neither is the sense of "out" in English "mark out."

I only came to this understanding of prefixes recently, so I'm not yet able to go through all your examples--I'm still trying to grok, for example, the nuances between struó, ínstruó, and cónstruó, not having read widely enough to get a strong sense of them--but as a general principle, if you think of the prefixes as slightly abstracted from their literal meanings, you can usually figure out a rough English equivalent.

  • Thanks for your answer. I answer some of your implicit questions: I don't understand why it isn't in any Latin textbook I've ever seen 1. You have correctly exposed my problem: I have not read Latin grammar yet, but wish to per this 2. I'm assuming that this will work for you : Yes, thanks; analogy to English verbs does aid me. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 26 '16 at 6:24
  • Excellent! It occurs to me that native or fluent German speakers would probably have an easy time understanding this as well, since it's essentially about separable/inseparable (trennbar/untrennbar) verbs. – Joel Derfner Feb 26 '16 at 16:44
  • +1. Please allow me to postpone acceptance to allow time for other responses. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 28 '16 at 23:03
  • But of course—absolutely! – Joel Derfner Feb 28 '16 at 23:33

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