Can someone explain the meaning of verbs that have "be" prefix vs same verb without it, like-
Check this out: etymologiebank (in Dutch).
Apparently, the be-prefix has evolved from the pronoun bij ('at', 'near').
The same goes for e.g. the b in bang (afraid), that has evolved from bij + angst. This was a revelation for me.
The same has happened in (old)English and German, but I can't find any English examples.
When I think about it it seems that a lot of verbs with the prefix be- need a direct object but not all of them.
spelen - to play (in every meaning),
bespelen - to play a musical instrument or to manipulate (people),
kijken - to look (generally),
bekijken = kijken naar - to look at,
studeren - to learn,
bestuderen - examine someone or something carefully, to study a topic.