My copy of Watership Down has many asterisks in the text to direct the reader to footnotes. Some of these footnotes are definitions of Lapine words:
*Nearly all warrens have an Owsla, or a group of strong or clever rabbits — second-year or older — surrounding the Chief Rabbit and his doe and exercising authority. Owslas vary...
Quote from Chapter 1: The Notice Board
I can understand why this footnote is important. It defines a term that the reader would be unfamiliar with, but which the characters would have no reason to explain. That term is important to understand the book. Therefore the temporary distraction from the main text at least serves a purpose to the story. The kind of footnotes I'm confused by are the ones that just have pronunciation guidelines:
[about the mythic rabbit hero El-ahrairah] *The stresses are the same as in the phrase, "Never say die."
Quote from Chapter 5: In the Woods
[about the warren Efrafa] *The first syllable is stressed and not the second, as in the word "Majesty."
Quote from Chapter 27: "You Can't Imagine It Unless You've Been There"
[about a character's name] *Thethuthinnang: "Movement of Leaves." The first and last syllables are stressed as in the phrase "Once in a way."
Quote from Chapter 35: Groping
(I'm sure there are more; these are the ones I found by randomly flipping through the book.) Why is it so important that when I pronounce these words in my head, I have the correct stresses? If I use the "wrong" stresses for these names, does it detract from the story? The footnotes, as they are not part of the main text, pull me out of the story a bit. Given that, why would simple pronunciation guides be put in the footnotes?