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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Accents
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1299  Monday, 13 May 2002

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 May 2002 21:22:56 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1285 Re: Accents

[2]     From:   David Wallace <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 2002 04:23:16 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1285 Re: Accents


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Friday, 10 May 2002 21:22:56 +0100
Subject: 13.1285 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1285 Re: Accents

> From:           David Lindley <
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> Rather than getting tangled up in some of the scholastic argument about
> terms that tends to characterise traditional discussion of metre, I
> myself prefer to use Derek Attridge's representation of metrical pattern
> in his excellent book The Rhythms of English Poetry - based on 'beats'
> rather than on 'feet'.  One of the besetting problems of all metrical
> analysis and discussion is that the terminology derived from classical
> metrics doesn't really fit easily on English speech patterns.

Oh god, at LAST, +some+ sort of sanity on this particularly lunatic
thread.

But if we're running PoMo metrics, Attridge is head-to-head with Marina
Tarlinskaja.

But, really, can I (mildly) suggest that if anyone wants to play silly
buggers with metrics, they cite volume-and-chapter-and-page from
Sainsbury's _History of English Prosody_.

Or, failing that, Malof's _A Manual of English Meters_.

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Wallace <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 2002 04:23:16 -0700
Subject: 13.1285 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1285 Re: Accents

Peter Groves writes:

> The placement of stress is governed by complex rules, certainly, as
> Kiparsky and Hanson would be the first to acknowledge, but the
> complexity is hidden from the native speaker, for whom language
> functions as a sort of "black box".  A metre like i.p. is a set of
> abstract binary patterns, all derivable from a common source (a set of
> ten alternating metrical positions wS wS wS wS wS) by transformations
> that (in English) swap adjacent positions (e.g. Sw wS wS wS wS); a
> string with a prosodic structure that can be mapped onto one of these
> patterns successfully is a metrical line.

I'm sorry. I have no idea what this means. If stress or accent or
emphasis or whatever could "swap adjacent positions" willy-nilly, there
would be no pattern, would there?

> Derek Attridge has written of what he calls &#8223;the widely-felt
> desire for a simple key to unlock the secret chambers of prosody"
> (<Rhythms of English Poetry>  43); the matter, unfortunately, is much
> more complicated than this.  You cannot, for example, simply disregard
> the stress in lexical monosyllables as though it were irrelevant to the
> metre. By this rule the following made-up example would be a metrical
> pentameter:

> Disconsolate friends of Bill and Elaine
>  w  s  w s     w     s   w   s   w  s

Again, I'm lost. Can Professor Grove explain why the above "made up
example" cannot be considered iambic pentameter? And how is it an
example of disregarding "the stress in lexical monosyllables"? I have a
question I'd like to pose about monosyllables. Can Professor Grove offer
a complete sentence consisting of ten monosyllables that he would NOT
consider iambic pentameter. And could he kindly explain his reasons?

> On the other hand, the same rule will reject as unmetrical the following
> inoffensive line, because the stressed syllable of <renew'd> falls in W:
>
> Give renew'd fire to our extincted Spirits      (Oth. 2.1.81)
>  w    s w     s    w  s  w  s   w    s x

Yes. But what Professor Grove neglects to mention is that this line is
surrounded by an abundance of lines that DO adhere to the pattern I've
offered. There are many lines that do not adhere to the principles. The
vast majority do. I don't know what Shakespeare was "hearing" in this
line. Prefixes such as "re" or "un" sometimes receive stress and
sometimes don't, often depending on the word and the context. I don't
suggest the word be pronounced "RE-new'd. But it's worth noting that
words with prefixes or compound words can shift their stress. In any
event, is it inconceivable that Shakespeare could have written a
unmetrical line or that a copyist or a printer might screw up an
occasional line? There is no way to account for every contingency.

> And just to put the tin lid on this absurdity, the same rule will admit
> as metrical my emended line below, which to anyone's ear is in metrical
> terms virtually unchanged:
>
> Give a new fire to our extincted spirits
>  w   s  w   s    w  s  w  s   w    s x

The "rule" does not "admit" or exclude lines as metrical or unmetrical.
Shakespeare is not following the "rule". The principle *describes* the
metrical pattern in the vast majority of lines. Even if its accuracy
rate were only 95%, it would still be a decided improvement over the
traditional description of iambic pentameter.

> You also can't ignore contextually determined contrastive accent, as I
> pointed out in my previous post.  Even Kiparsky has partly recognized
> this, though what he doesn't realise is that it's altogether different
> from lexical stress and has different metrical 'value'; he has claimed,
> for example, that &#8223;Some apparent counterexamples [to his metrical
> theory] are eliminated by taking into account contrastive stress"
> (&#8223;Rhythmic Structure" 210), by which he means swapping adjacent
> nodes in the stress-tree; this would save the following line, for
> example (rather necessary since Pope, of all people, doesn't write
> unmetrical lines) by shifting the "stress" from <-cowl'd> to <UN->
>
> Men bearded, bald, cowl'd, UNcowl'd, shod, UNshod (Pope, Dunciad 3.114)
>  w    s  w    s     w      s  w        s   w   s

What's the problem? The stress in "UNcowl'd" is in a strong metrical
position. The stress in "UNshod" is in a weak metrical position
following a syntactic break (a comma). Shakespeare does the same thing
in "Never, never, never, never, never". The stress, here, is entirely
inverted and still adheres to the principle Kiparsky and Hanson
advance.  Examples in Shakespeare are legion.

> But the same rule will render the following line UNmetrical (which is
> clearly counter-intuitive)
>
> Curl'd or UNcurl'd, since Locks will turn to grey,      (Pope, RL 5.26)
>  w     s  w  s       w     s     w    s    w   s

Not so. According to the principles I outlined the line is perfectly
metrical. "Or" is a conjunction - a syntactic break - exactly where
Shakespeare (and others) permit stress in a weak metrical position.
Again, examples are legion.

> as though the line were similar to this genuinely unmetrical line (for
> Pope, at any rate):
>
> *Curl'd or wavy, since Locks will turn to grey,
>   w     s   w s   w     s     w    s    w   s

How this line is unmetrical while the preceding IS metrical eludes me.
It appears Professor Grove is relying on his intuition about what Pope
would or would not consider metrical. Evidence please?

> But it isn't, because stress and accent are different things (see my
> reply to David Evett for a further elaboration).

Yes. Stress assumes a pattern. Accent doesn't.

> David Wallace: "The advantage of the theory I am advocating is that it
> offers empirical, concrete evidence of a metrical pattern. In
> Shakespeare, the rhythmic pattern of the line must contend with the
> syntactic character of the sentence. The rhythm is concrete (or absent
> in the absence of polysyllabic words).
>
> So "So long as men can breathe or eyes can see" doesn't have an iambic
> rhythm?  I think you may encounter some skepticism on this point.

Yes, yes. By the traditional description. As in his example above from
Othello, Professor Grove is attempting to make his case by focusing on
the exception. We both could find dozens of examples which don't adhere
to the traditional description. Such as "Then kill, kill, kill, kill,
kill, kill" (*Lear* 4.6.187) - followed by a pause to allow for the
entrance of another actor. All lines of verse have a rhythmic
character.  That is not in question. What is at issue here is the nature
of the *pattern*.

> David Wallace: "The syntax is fluid. That is why iambic pentameter
> sounds natural (not da DUM da DUM da DUM as the conventional theory
> would have it). But no one has to take my word for it. Apply the
> principles I've outlined. The majority of lines will adhere to the
> pattern quite nicely. Where they don't, examine the linguistic
> characteristics of individual words or, as in the case of "be it",
> groups of words. I am quite used to the response that Professors Evett
> and Groves have offered. No one seems to want to believe that it could
> be this simple and be overlooked for so long."
>
> As I've pointed out, it just isn't that simple (would that it were!).
>
> Peter Groves

For the life of me, I don't know WHAT Professor Grove has "pointed
out".  I've pointed out a pattern that even my 9th grade students can
apprehend and that anyone can affirm or disprove by scanning a few
hundred lines.  What pattern is Professor Grove advocating? In his last
post he remarked that he can't offer his definition of iambic pentameter
in this forum because "there is not enough room to do so" because the
matter is "considerably more complicated" than I appear to suppose. Hmm.
So far this week I have exchanged arguments with Professor Evett, who
defines iambic pentameter as (simply) "a pattern of alternating
unstressed/stressed syllables" and Professor Grove whose definition is
so complex it requires a book length treatment. Bewildering.

Regards. David Wallace

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