Prose rhythm and antimetricality
Arto Anttila, Ryan Heuser, Paul Kiparsky
January 2022

Metrics is usually concerned with verse while prose has been neglected. We propose an approach to detecting rhythm in both verse and prose on a large scale building on the computational methodology of Heuser, Falk, and Anttila 2010-. Using constraints from Hanson and Kiparsky 1996 we define the METRICAL TENSION SUM of a line (cf. Halle and Keyser 1971) as the sum of all metrical constraint violations across all the scansions permitted by the metrical grammar. We test the ANTIMETRICALITY HYPOTHESIS inspired by Saintsbury (1912) and Jakobson (1935) which claims prose to assume the role of anti-verse in historical periods where metrical verse is the dominant literary form. We start with a sample of thirteen canonical authors and then scale up the experiment to a larger sample from thousands of authors. We find that prose becomes less antimetrical as verse becomes less dominant providing preliminary support for the antimetricality hypothesis.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006398
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Slides of a talk from the LSA 2022 session "Literary Linguistic Forms", January 8, 2022
keywords: metrics, scansion, computation, phonology
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