BELL: Belgian Journal of English Language and Literatures vol:4 pages:109-127
This article brings to light a productive inseparable prefix construction marked by be-/bi in late Old English and early Middle English, which forms complex verbs of DECEPTION, such as betray, beguile, bewray. The expression of such a specific psychological sense through a verbal prefix is highly exceptional for Germanic languages, and a complex four stage development has to be assumed, starting from other concrete constructions marked by be-/bi- such as the PRIVATIVE construction (cf. bereave, behead). By emphasizing the relevance of the notion of construction in this development, the article also contributes to the insights in the relationship between constructions and language change.