Proparoxytone

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Proparoxytone (Greek: προπαροξύτονος, proparoxýtonos) is a linguistic term for a word with stress on the third-to-last syllable, e.g the English words cinema and operational. Related terms are paroxytone (stress on the last but one) and oxytone (accented on the last one).

In medieval Latin lyric poetry, a proparoxytonic line or half-line is one where the antepenultimate syllable is stressed, as in the first half of the verse "Estuans intrinsecus || ira vehementi."

Ernst Robert Curtius offers an interesting use of the term in a footnote (Ch. 8, n. 33) of his European Literature in the Latin Middle Ages. He is commenting on this passage from Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel's didactic poem on grammar:

Here is Curtius' note:

"Sad is the lot of the interjection, for of all the parts of speech it has the lowest place. There is none to praise it." On the way from Latin to French the penultimate syllable of the proparoxytone succumbed. Mallarmé was so touched by this, that he wrote a prose-poem on the "Death of the Penultimate" (Le Démon de l'analogie in Divagations). It ends: Je m'enfuis, bizarre, personne condamné à porter probablement le deuil de l'explicable Penultième." Grammar too has its tragedies.

See also


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