What exactly does the grave accent mean in English?
An example from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30:
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan
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The grave accent, although not standardly applied to any English words, is sometimes used in poetry and song lyrics to indicate that a vowel usually silent is to be pronounced, in order to fit the rhythm or meter. Most often, it is applied to a word ending with -ed. For instance, the word looked is usually pronounced /ˈlʊkt/ as a single syllable, with the e silent; when written as lookèd, the e is pronounced: /ˈlʊk.ɨd/ look-ed). It can also be used in this capacity to distinguish certain pairs of identically spelled words like the past tense of learn, learned /ˈlɜrnd/, from the adjective learnèd /ˈlɜrn.ɨd/ (for example, "a very learnèd man").
This line is from Shakespeare's Sonnet 30. Shakespearean sonnets are 14 lines of iambic pentameter, so each line needs ten syllables. If the -èd was not pronounced separately then there would only be nine in this line, which would break the metre. The grave accent is a help to the reader.
Incidentally, it is not stressed here.
A line earlier in the same sonnet is
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight
where the apostrophe is a help to the reader not to pronounce the -ed separately.
Guess: it means you place more emphasis here than usual. As in, "beh-MOAN'd" vs "beh-MOAN-ED".
(Thanks to commenter for keeping me honest).