Accent

Accent in a grammatical sense, is the tone or stress of the voice upon a particular syllable, which is the means of distinguishing or separating words in rapid enunciation, and is not to be confounded with the rhythmical or musical ictus or force which regulates poetry or metre, and is, at the same time, independent of the prosodiacal quantity. In English, as in most European languages, there is no fixed rule for the position of the accent, which often differs in words formed after the same analogy. In Latin, in the absence of all positive information as to how the Romans themselves pronounced their language, at least in this particular, an arbitrary rule has been invented and generally acceded to by scholars of all nations, by which the tone is placed upon every long penult, and upon the antepenult of words having a short or doubtful ("common") vowel in the penult. Many apply the same rule to the Greek language; but, as this has a written accent, the custom, still preserved among the modern Greeks, is gradually prevailing, of conforming the spoken to the written tone. In Hebrew the place of the accent is carefully designated in the common or Masoretic text (see R. Jehuda Ibn Balam, Treatise on the Poetic Accents, in Heb., Paris, 1556; reprinted with annotations; Amst. 1858), although the Jews of some nations, disregarding this, pronounce the words with the accent on the penult, after the analogy of modern languages, and as is done by natives in speaking Syriac and Arabic (see J. D. Michaelis, Apfangsgrunde der Hebr. Accentuation, Hall. 1741; Hirts, Einleit. in d. Hebr. Abtheilungskunst, Jena, 1762; Spitzner, Idea Analyticae V. T. ex Accentibus, Lips. 1769; Stern, Grindl. Lehre d. Flebr. Accentuation, Frankf. 1840). In words anglicized from the Greek the Latin rules are observed for the accent; and in those introduced from the Hebrew, as they have mostly come to us through the Vulgate, the same principle is in the main adhered to. so far as applicable, though with great irregularity and disagreement among orthoepists, and generally to the utter neglect of the proper Hebrew tone. In pronouncing Scripture and other foreign names, therefore, care should be taken to conform to the practice of the best speakers and readers, rather than to any affected or pedantic standard, however exact in itself (see Worcester's Eng. Dict. 1860, Append.).

 
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