Latin accents for Psalm 136
  • AngelaRAngelaR
    Posts: 309
    Dear friends,

    I am in touch with a composer who has been commissioned to set the text of Psalm 136 (Super flumina babylonis). He is wondering about the placement of accents on the following words:

    interrogaverunt (where is the preliminary accent?)
    Babylon
    evacuate
    memento
    Hierusalem
    fuero
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    BAB-y-lon
    e-VAC-u-A-te
    me-MENT-o
    Hier-U-sa-lem
    fu-ER-o


    I would say:
    IN-ter-ro-gav-ER-unt.
    but I imagine others would disagree.
  • Fuero is definitely accented on the first syllable: FUero (future perfect), as the e is short (unlike the e in the perfect ending -erunt, which is usually long).

    The existence of secondary accents in Latin is hotly debated, so on interrogaverunt and evacuate, only the penultimate syllable should receive an accent mark(interrogavErunt, evacuAte). I don't know about Hierusalem (I'm not even sure about the correct spelling of the word), though I suspect that Adam is correct.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    But if he's going to place a secondary, it would be on "ro".

    At least according to my now-fading memory of Jesuit rules...
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    My secondary accents were under the assumption that there was one. (If there is one, here's where it should go).

    If IA is sure about "fuero," no argument from me. Knowing how that syllable developed into Latin's daughter languages, I'd have a hard time trying to imagine that there was a major difference, in spoken Latin, between FUero and fuERo.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    But if he's going to place a secondary, it would be on "ro".

    Then you might as well say
    IN-ter-RO-gav-ER-unt

    in a polysyllabic word, the placement of one accent causes a secondary accent to occur (whether you mark it or acknowledge it or not).
    if you accent the third and fifth syllables here, you naturally cause the first to be accented (as compared to the second).
    The more interesting question is, how many feet are int he word.
    I'd say three:
    IN ter-RO gav-ER-unt

    someone else might argue 2:

    IN-ter-ro gav-ER-unt

    but this:

    in-ter-RO gav-ER-unt

    makes no sense to me.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    I'd break the word as
    in-ter-ro-ga-ve-runt,
    with three "feet" of two syllables each.

    Then the primary stress goes to "ve", secondary to "ro", and tertiary to "in", so it becomes

    IN-ter-RO-ga-VE-runt

    with the stresses increasing each time.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    I officially change my mind and support chonak's interpretation.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    All agreed, move the motion, recess to the tavern!!
  • AngelaRAngelaR
    Posts: 309
    Thanks so much everyone. Our composer will also be deeply appreciative.