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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Accents
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1325  Tuesday, 14 May 2002

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 2002 16:24:45 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1317 Re: Accents

[2]     From:   Ros King <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 2002 14:20:27 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1317 Re: Accents

[3]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 2002 19:53:39 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1317 Re: Accents


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 2002 16:24:45 GMT0BST
Subject: 13.1317 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1317 Re: Accents

I do wonder quite what we are trying to prove in this thread.  To take
one example that has been offered as some sort of test case:

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

This is not an 'iambic pentameter' because it is unambiguously a
four-beat line, and its dominant pattern is X//  (or 'dactylic' if you
must).

It's not  'unmetrical'; or at least it's only 'unmetrical' in a context
of expectation where it is either assumed that ten syllables 'ought' to
be iambic pentameter, or where it is surrounded by lines that are
five-beat lines with a norm of alternating stress and unstress.  It
would be easy to imagine it as a perfectly 'metrical' line in another
context.

Professor David Lindley
Head, School of English

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ros King <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 2002 14:20:27 EDT
Subject: 13.1317 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1317 Re: Accents

My, what a lot of bad temper!

Yes, indeed, the answer lies in music.  Fortunately, not all song is
'heroic' - and yes I have read the book. Just as in music, there is in
poetry a distinction to be drawn between metre and the rhythm that
dances around that metre. A sense of the rhythm, however, is something
that can only be achieved, and indeed appreciated, once the metre is
established.

In English the stress pattern of a word tends to remain constant even
amongst speakers of different dialects. Accent in the sense of
intonation, however, differs widely, depending not only on dialect but
on the emotional state of the speaker at any given time. It is the
consistency of verbal stress in English that allows speakers, according
to their individual preference at the time of speaking, not only to
incorporate a range of emotional intonation into their speech, but also
to underline sentence structure through the creation of one-off patterns
in relative *degrees* of stress. Indeed this discretion is what adds to
comprehensibility in English - although I believe it would destroy
comprehensibility in (for example) Chinese.

Someone writing in English designed to enable an actor to achieve a
characterisation might be expected to have a sophisticated understanding
of the interplay between rhythm and metre. Holofernes' line 'you find
not the apostraphas, and so miss the accent' (LLL 4.2.119-20) is an
indication that he might further expect experienced professionals to be
able, through elision, to play with the normal (prose) pronunciation of
words and the artificial pattern of the metre. The point here is that
the poem Nathaniel is reading sounds bad not because he is reading it
woodenly (as Holofernes at first supposes) but because the prose pattern
of its words so exactly matches the metre that even the most experienced
speaker could not release rhythm from it.

I don't think it's as difficult as Professor Groves suggests, but it is
a lot more fun.

Best,
Ros

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 2002 19:53:39 EDT
Subject: 13.1317 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1317 Re: Accents

Courage, Mr.Groves!

Harry Hill
Montreal

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