A Field Guide to Alliterative Verse
What Makes a Strong Stress
- Word-internal Prominence
- Grammatical prominence
- Rhythmic prominence
- The primary lexical stress of nouns and adjectives almost always count as lifts (the same with one-syllable nouns and adjectives; in Old English the adjectivals include participles and infinitive forms of verbs).
- The primary lexical stress (or the single stressed syllable) of verbs and adverbs will count as lifts if there is no stronger stress right next to them.
- Some function words -- primarily pronouns - can be stressed for special emphasis, and are lifts when so stressed.
- Other function words, including articles, possessive adjectives, auxiliary verbs, and most prepositions, can hardly ever be lifts, but must be part of a dip (except for a few special patterns where nothing else is available with stronger stress.)
- A half-line of alliterative verse must be a prosodic phrase.
- The strong, alliterating stresses of alliterative verse must be the strong, central stress around which a prosodic word is built.
- It is the primary stress of a polysyllable, or a stressed monosyllable.
- It is the root stress of a content word, typically a noun or adjective.
- It is the head stress of a prosodic word.