On Fri, 6 Feb 1998, Rod McDonald wrote:
> 'summer is a-coming in' is the mod Eng version of the Mid Eng 'sumer is
> icumen in', and the 'i-' particle at the start of 'icumen' is probably the
> remains of an older Germanic 'ge-' prefix which was common enough in Old
> English, and still persists in Mod German verbs.
Actually I should have noticed that, having sung the ME version :-)
There seems to be a semantic shift from "icumen" to "a-coming".
Indeed the 'i' (or 'y') prefix is a past participle prefix in ME, "used
sporadically" according to my Chaucer text (Donaldson: Chaucer's
Poetry, Ronald Press '58).
Lehmann Intro. to O.I. p. 14 says "It has also been proposed that the
English gerund in '-ing' developed as a result of Insular Celtic
influence." I wonder who proposed it when, and where.
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