Generated metrical form and implied metrical form

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Metrical verse is characterized by rules and by tendencies. In English iambic pentameter, a stressed syllable must be in an even-numbered position or first position if it is in a polysyllable; it will tend to be in an even-numbered position or first position if it is a monosyllable. This example demonstrates that there is an apparent relation between rule and tendency (they relate similar phonological characteristics to the same positions in the line), which raises the possibility that they should be explained together, and indeed this has generally been assumed. Howe¬ver, I will argue in this paper that rules and tendencies require completely different kinds of explanation. Rules are explained by a generative theory (specifically Bracketed Grid theory, Fabb and Halle (forthcoming)); tendencies are explained by a pragmatic theory (specifically Relevance Theory, Sperber and Wilson (1995)).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFormal Approaches to Poetry
Subtitle of host publicationRecent Developments in Metrics
EditorsB. Elan Dresher, Nila Friedberg
Place of PublicationBerlin
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NamePhonology and Phonetics
PublisherMouton de Gruyter


  • metrical form
  • english language
  • metrical verse
  • polysyllable


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