Both pearf and dearr were used, albeit rarely, in impersonal constructions, where the logical subject or experiencer was in the dative case (cf.
The earliest English instance of dearr is found on the south-east face of the Ruthwell Cross.
Nonetheless, in translations from Latin dearr was usually the equivalent of the semideponens audere and praesumere (thus means 'to have the courage or impudence to do something') or timere 'fear', if negated:
But in the vast majority of cases, dearr was used in sentences that contained negative elements:
47) foroon hie nan monn ne dearr oreagean oeah hie agylten, ac mid oam beoo synna suioe gebraedda oe hie beoo sua geweoroade.
In (33) we can see how dearr encroaches upon the territory of mceg.
Finally, in Beowulf there is a very interesting example where pearf becomes very close in meaning to dearr, which might be treated as a harbinger of the confusion between the two verbs in Middle English (cf.
Another interesting development is the fact that apart from their basic deontic senses, both dearr and pearf also appear to have developed some epistemic senses as early as Old English (e.g.
Maxims 124 pearf, like dearr, was predominantly found in nonassertive contexts, i.e.
With the loss of final -f and/or replacement of the initial dental fricative consonant with the plosive stop d-, in Middle English certain forms of tharf became similar to and sometimes even identical with those of dearr. This will be subject of the sequel to this article (Molencki, forthcoming).
But in the period discussed in this paper, dearr and pearf were still clearly distinct Old English preterite-present verbs, though in a way exceptional ones.