all Slavic: preposition -> noun / verb


Senior Member
English, USA
Do Slavic languages have any instances in which a preposition/prefix is used as the base for deriving a new noun or verb?

An example of what I mean would be

- the modern English verb out, meaning "to expose (someone)" (e.g. He was outed as a supporter of the opposing football team)
- Swedish yta "surface", from ut "out"

There do seem to be cases in Slavic where a spatial/temporal adjective is formed from a preposition (e.g. Slovene sprednji "front, anterior" < pred "before, in front"), but are there any cases where the derivation goes directly from a preposition to a noun/verb?

Thanks for any info
  • ibogi

    Serbia - Serbian
    In Serbian, there is derivation from preposition
    prednji (frontal) -> prednjačiti (go in front)


    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    I am not sure I understand the question. See if this is what you are looking for: Slovak napredovať means to move forward, to progress. It contains the adverb/preposition napred, "forward/in front of."
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    @GWR Old Church Slavonic → Russian even have a verb with the same adverb used simultaneously as a prefix and a root: прѣдѹпрѣдити/prěduprěditi → предупредить/prʲeduprʲedʲitʲ "to warn; to anticipate; to prevent".

    P. S. I guess all the Slavic examples will only involve newer prepositions, rather recently developed from adverbs/adjectives like blizь → -bliziti, prědъ → -prěditi.


    In Serbo-Croatian there are examples like približavati (se) / približiti (se), where -bliž- comes from blizъ, but blizъ is considered an adjective. The verb predupr(ij)editi also exists, but it is considered archaic.

    Like ibogi already said, the only other example I can think of for Serbo-Croatian is prȅd 'in front of' → prednjáčiti 'to go in front of someone, to be among the first in sth'; prȅdnōst 'advantage'. There are other similar examples like nàpr(ij)ēd → nàpredovati; nàpredak; unapr(ij)éditi, however that is a conversion from an adverb and not a preposition.

    Generally speaking, conversions from other parts of speech to verbs are barely possible in contemporary Slavic languages, mainly because our verbs have a lot more flexion than, say, English or Swedish ones. And sometimes it is difficult to determine what was the source of the conversion. For example, the abovementioned Swedish ut can be an adjective, an adverb and a preposition, so which one of them was the source for the conversion to yta? The same can be said for Serbo-Croatian, where the word vanjštìna 'outside, exterior, appearance' contains the word van 'out', which is often used both as an adverb and as a preposition (although the standard language recognizes a difference between an adverb van 'out' a preposition izvan 'out').


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    The points made about adverbs have made me reconsider my original examples: out in English and (I think) ut in Swedish really are used more as adverbs than as true prepositions. (As an adjective, though, Swedish ut seems quite marginal and I doubt that it was the source of the noun yta.)

    Maybe most "preposition > verb/noun" derivations are actually "adverb > verb/noun", in which case prepositions rarely or never used as adverbs (like Eng. of) would be unlikely to undergo this process.
    I somehow had forgotten the ancient Slavic pattern preposition + *-dʰos → noun → new preposition, reflected in Old Church Slavonic by the chains:
    na → nadъ (attested only as a preposition if I am not mistaken),
    za → zadъ (still only a noun in most languages, but already a preposition in Bulgarian),
    prě- (a preposition in Slovak, pre) → prědъ (Russian also preserves the noun перёд),
    po → podъ (Russian под "bottom of an oven etc.").​

    Also there is *arz → *arzinas reflected in Old Church Slavonic and Old East Slavic as raz-/roz- "dis-" → razьnъ/rozьnъ "different" → razьnica/rozьnica "difference" (a noun, to fit the topic question). There existed also a directly derived noun *arziṣ persisting in the Russian adverb врозь "apart" (<*un arzin).

    And, going deeper in time, there is of course the PIE *hₑen "in" (adverb~preposition~postposition) → *hₑenter~hₑonter "inside" (preposition~postposition) → Common Slavic *antriṣ "the inside" (noun) → *un antrin "to the inside" (preposition + Acc. Sg.), *un antrēı̯ "inside" (preposition + Loc. Sg.) > Old Church Slavonic вънѫтрь/vъnǫtrь, вънѫтри/vъnǫtri (adverb) > e. g. Russian внутрь, внутри (the original root without n- taken from the prefix is preserved in ѫтроба/ǫtroba>утроба "womb, belly", with n- in Russian нутро "the inside"; with the e-grade we find the Old Church Slavonic ѩтро/jętro "liver"). Again, like in the above прѣдѹпрѣдити/prěduprěditi, vъn- and ǫ- here are etymologically the same proto-form, *hₑen.

    Another Proto-Indo-European example, though it is hard to tell what was the source, the verbal root or the adverb, is perhaps the relationship between *per- (> Old Church Slavonic прѣ-/prě-) and прѣти/prěti, пьрѫ/pьrǫ "to move forward, to quarrel". Here, too, we have the double occurrence of this element in прѣпрѣти/prěprěti.
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