Verbal Prefixes

The English verb 'to tend' derives from the pie root sjten, to stretch: when a prefix is appended to it, its meaning alters. For example (with prefix meanings given):

attend

(at-,

towards, to, at)

contend

(eon-

with, together, wholly)

distend

(dis-

, apart, away)

extend

(ex-,

out of, very)

intend

(in-,

towards, in)

portend

(por-

before, instead of)

pretend

(pre-

instead of, before)

subtend

(sub-

under)

Assuming that the meaning of these verbs is already understood (more or less), then a grasp of their etymological derivation from the root and prefixes should contribute to enlarging that understanding. Again, given the meanings of these verbs, it can be appreciated that that the prefixes are instrumental in modifying the original root to give its particular meaning, but the converse is not necessarily so: given the meanings of the root and prefixes only, it may prove difficult to arrive at the meanings of the particular verbs.

The situation is Sanskrit is similar: the meaning of a prefixed verb (as a compound) needs to be looked up in the dictionary, which will also give its component parts of prefix(es) and dhatu, which may then be separately looked up. Other words may be derived from that prefixed verb, and they carry the sense of this compound as though it were a separate dhatu; this is also the case in English, as for example, the derivation of attention, attentive, attendance, attendant, from the verb 'attend'.

A prefix, when appended to a verb, is called an upasarga in Sanskrit grammar. The grammarians list just twenty-two of these; in alphabetical order they are:

ati-

beyond, over, across, past,

surpassing, to excess

adhi-

over, above, upon, on, onto

anu-

after, along, like, towards,

following

apa-

away, off, from, forth

api-

over, on, close, proximate

abhi-

to, towards, into, against,

near, opposite

ava-

down, off, away, from

ä-

towards, to, near, into, at,

from, back, return, (reversing)

iid-

up, upwards, out, above

upa-

towards, near, to, next to,

less, down, under

dur-

bad, difficult, hard

dus-

bad, difficult, hard

ni-

down, in, on, under, into

nir-

away, out, forth

nis-

away, out, forth

parâ-

back, backwards, away, forth, to a distance

pari-

around, about

pra-

before, forward, forth, onward, fore

prati-

against, towards, to, at, near, back, again, return,

(reversing)

vi-

apart, asunder, away, out,

implying separation or

dispersion

sam-

with, together, along with

, conjoined with

su-

good, excellent, well

The above list is included here for reference only, and should not be learned; however, a familiarity with the Sanskrit forms will be useful.

An upasarga may simply emphasize the original sense of the dhatu, but usually modifies the sense; sometimes the changes is so great as to make the sense of the original dhatu quite unrecognizable, for example:

dhätu hr pra-hr a-hr sam-hr vi-hr pari-hr to take away to hit to eat to destroy to roam to abandon

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Responses

  • scudamor chubb-baggins
    How to separate prefix in sanskrit?
    2 years ago

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