On the German prefix an- and its short life in Icelandic

Veturliði Óskarsson

This paper gives an overview of the history of the German prefix an- in Icelandic. One isolated example (annáma) shows up in a text from the middle of the 16th century, but judged by preserved texts, words of this type were not borrowed until after 1600. Around 60 an words are to be found in the collection of Orðabók Háskólans (Institute of Lexicography) from ca. 1600 to the middle of the 20th century. Many of them are very rare, around 60% appearing only once or twice. Most of the words seem to be borrowed in the 18th and 19th centuries, but very few struck roots in the language, and the prefix has never been productive and has never been used in word formation in Icelandic. As a result of the language purism of the 19th and 20th centuries, most of the an- words disappeared together with many other loanwords of Danish-German origin, and literally none exist to-day.