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be- (prepositional)
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be-/bə/ is a Germanic unstressed element found in adverbs and prepositions like benedendown and (with schwa deletion) binneninside and buitenout, outside. The element historically goes back to a prefix which will not be recognized by many language users nowadays; various scholars, however, maintain that this be- is a prefix in current Dutch.

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The element be-/bə/ goes back to a Proto-Germanic prefix *bi- that is related to the preposition bijat, near (cf. English by, German bei). It is found in complex prepositions and adverbs such as benedendown, bovenup, upside and binneninside(De Haas and Trommelen 1993: 52). The original stem in beneden is no longer used in Dutch, binnen derives from inin, inside.

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The -en part in binneninside (<in) and buitenout, outside (< uit) derives from a directional suffix *ana (see Etymologiebank). benevenson top of that and dialectal bachtenbehind, beyond are derived by means of the same prefix and suffix combination (Etymologiebank). The WNT hypothesizes that bezijdenalongside also contains the same prefix historically, but an inflected form of the noun zijdeside rather than a combination of a preposition and a suffix; De Haas and Trommelen (1993: 52) have their doubts. The morphological and etymological status of cases such as benoordennorth of (< noordnorth) is unclear.

Zwart (2011: 102-103), on the other hand, qualifies be- in bezijdenalongside, benoordennorth of, as well as in binneninside, buitenoutside and bovenabove, upstairs as an applicative prefix. In his view, this would be the same prefix as the one occuring in verbs such as be-zett-enAPPL-put-INFto occupy, as in het strand bezetten met palenstick poles in the beach.

References:
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Zwart, Jan-Wouter2011The syntax of DutchCambridgeCambridge University Press
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