General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun a mark put above or below a letter in writing or printing to show how it should be pronounced

Media Studies

  • noun the way in which a language is pronounced, which is characteristic of a whole region, social group or other community

Origin & History of “accent”

Accent was originally a loan-translation from Greek into Latin (a loan-translation is when each constituent of a compound in one language is translated into its equivalent in another, and then reassembled into a new compound). Greek prosōidíā (whence English prosody) was formed from pros ‘to’ and ōidḗ ‘song’ (whence English ode); these elements were translated into Latin ad ‘to’ and cantus ‘song’ (whence English chant, cant, cantata, canticle), giving accentus. The notion underlying this combination of ‘to’ and ‘song’ was of a song added to speechthat is, the intonation of spoken language. The sense of a particular mode of pronunciation did not arise in English until the 16th century.