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  #1  
Unread 07-27-2019, 06:15 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Default Boustrophedon

Serious question. Where does the main stress fall in the word "boustrophedon"?

I've looked it up and there is no consensus. Help?
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Unread 07-27-2019, 06:39 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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My guess is that least 99% or your readers won't know how its pronounced either and, if they look it up, they will find one of the differing stress-pronunciations that you have. This means either they'll think you're wrong (if they find a different one than you opt for), or right (if they find the one you adopt) or perhaps they will simply follow your lead as the metre dictates. And given there's no consensus, likely there's no single correct answer, so I'd just so go with works best for you given the metrical constraints of the line.
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Unread 07-27-2019, 06:45 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Another thought.

Let's assume there is a correct pronunciation and the primary stress could be on the first, second of third syllable. If these were equally likely, then assuming you're writing iambic verse, getting the metric stress to fall on the first and third syllables gives you a two-thirds probability of getting it right
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Unread 07-27-2019, 06:58 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Thanks Matt, here and elsewhere. I can actually move the word within the line to make it "right", but I shall consider for a while. There is a growing number on Facebook insisting on a third-syllable "ee". I shall cling to your good sense.
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Unread 07-27-2019, 07:10 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Looking online, I can only find it with primary stress on the third syllable and secondary stress on the first. The Collins and Meriam-Webster dictionaries give that pronunciation (also Wikipedia and dictionary.com). The OED site seems to be down at the moment, which is where I'd normally look first.
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Unread 07-27-2019, 07:11 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Annie,

The OED says the stress is on the penultimate syllable. I think you (and I) hear it said with the primary stress on the ultima sometimes (me: often, and how I say it) because that's where it is in Greek.

All that's to say that the word can be two iambs or two trochees and be okay, you just want to think about the speaker of the poem: are they going to be more interested in standard pronunciation or Classical?
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Unread 07-27-2019, 07:31 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Thanks, Andrew. I am the speaker and want it to be "right". I need the word to form a link with agricultural history.

The subject doesn't give a stuff, he's busy exterminating species with a knapsack sprayer.
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Unread 07-27-2019, 08:13 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Then, given traditional English pronunciations (and all I get from the OED), I'd go

/ˌbuːstrəʊˈfiːdən/
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Unread 07-27-2019, 09:41 AM
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Thanks, Andrew.
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  #10  
Unread 07-27-2019, 10:41 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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For what it's worth, Robert Frost pronounced the word the same way I do: BousTROPHedon:

From "From Plane to Plane:"

" [we] . . . at every line end

Pick up our eyes and carry them back idle

Across the page to where we started from.

The other way of reading back and forth,

Known as boustrophedon, was found too awkward.”

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-27-2019 at 10:52 AM.
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