Verse constituency and the locality of alliteration

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17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper formulates a generalisation about a difference between alliteration and rhyme in verse: alliteration is subject to a locality constraint which does not hold for rhyme. Alliteration holds only within a verse constituent or between adjacent verse constituents. To demonstrate this, I describe the major verse traditions which involve systematic alliteration. This discussion is placed in the context of a more general account of a distinction between inherent form (exemplified by linguistic form, and possibly some kinds of metrical form) and communicated form (a self-description licensed by evidence provided by the text). Though it is subject to a locality constraint (reminiscent in some ways of a linguistic constraint), alliteration is nevertheless an instance of communicated form.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-245
Number of pages23
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1999


  • alliteration
  • form
  • meter


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