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Subject: Be- compound words
Question: I've searched numerous etymological and linguistic sources for , an answer but have been unsuccessful. My question boils down to the deveopmental origins of the many English word starting with be- such as behave, beguile, bedevil, become, believe, to name but a few. I know, for example, that in most US courts, a trial or hearing usually begins with a bailiff saying something like, ''All stand'', or words to that effect. On, at least, BBC shows on PBS show a similar court official often saying., ''Be- upstanding'', which I imagine is said as one word. That can be suggestive, more than explanatory of such words' formation. I am aware that, as to origin of behave, it comes from behabben (sp?) and be- was described as an intensifier which the source did not define. I am aware that the present German word for to have is haben, but I fail to see how be- intensifies to have. This led to the question as well if be- in early English intensified guile, devil, come and lieve. How about the be- in behind or because or bedeck? The issue in my mind is further confounded by related thoughts and their development: lie, belie, belief, and believe. How about beware (be aware, I presume), be careful (two words) I assume there were rules concerning which and how words developed combining be with some other word. Can and will one or more of you please help me in sorting out this conundrum? Thank you.
From: David Hendon
Date: 20-Mar-2014
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