Saturday, February 10, 2007

Reasoning Rhyme: More Complex Phenomena

Last time, I introduced the basics of my new terminology for rhyme. This post applies that terminology to the examination of more complex phenomena in rhyme.

Remember that you can find a key to the symbols I use to indicate individual sounds here. You should be familiar with the use of slashes round a symbol (e.g. /I/) from the previous post. In this one, I use square brackets in some examples (e.g., ta[ks]i) to emphasise the point that I'm talking about the pronunciation of the sound(s) concerned. I also use a slash in examples to indicate where a word is being broken and use # to show a word boundary(e.g., at all is shown as a/t#all).

There's a bit more linguistic terminology in this post. I hope it doesn't bamboozle too much. I'm still working on the supplement (it might become two!) that should help to make it clear, but I'll post this bit of the discussion meantime nonetheless.

Compound Rhymes
It is possible for a feminine rhyme to be a compound of two of the types discussed in the previous post. One such example from Simon Armitage’s poem “You May Turn Over and Begin ...” is the rhyme cocktails:pigtails, which is a remote:identical compound. Interestingly, the remote element (/k/ and /p/ are both voiceless stops; /Q/ and /I/are both mid vowels; /k/ and /g/ are both velar stops) is the syllable with primary stress. It is also important to note that, although both fellows in the above example are compound nouns, compound rhymes need not be confined to such forms. For instance, waggle:fickle could also be thought of as a remote:identical compound.

Intrusion and Protrusion
Astrid Holtman uses the term “subsequence rhyme” to refer to any rhyme in which a segment present in one fellow is absent from the other. She places it under the heading of “imperfect rhyme”, but it is preferable separate it from twin and relative rhyme. Twin and relative rhyme are clearly concerned with different degrees of relationship between corresponding segments in two rhyme fellows. “Subsequence rhyme” is orthogonal to this relationship and can appear in twin and relative rhyme. For concision and clarity, the term intrusion is to be preferred to “internal subsequence rhyme”, in which a segment is inserted word-internally, and protrusion, to “subsequence rhyme”, in which a segment is added at the end or beginning of a word (e.g. fleet'st:sweets in Shakespeare's Sonnet 19 ll.5, 7).

In swapping, two segments or features, usually but not necessarily contiguous, swap places between the fellows. Segmental swapping can be seen in ll.9,10 of Louis MacNeice’s “Bagpipe Music”, which rhyme Blavat[sk]y:ta[ks]i.

As classification of rhyme is based on degree of segmental correspondence, it seems reasonable that individual features as well as entire segments should be able to swap. Featural swapping can be seen in ll.1, 3 of Seamus Heaney’s “The Diviner”, which rhyme stick:pluck. In the initial consonant clusters /st/ and /pl/, one segment is a voiceless stop (/t/ and /p/) and the other is a continuant (/s/ and /l/). The stops have different places of articulation (alveolar and labial), but the continuants share their place of articulation.

Featural swapping can also be seen in the initial consonant clusters in the example above from Shakespeare's Sonnet 19. Here, the labiality of the segments swaps, but the manner of articulation and voicing stay in place.

In borrowing, one fellow “borrows” a consonant from the preceding word to account for its correspondent in the other fellow. The borrowed segment may be identical, as in toil:a/t#all (Wilfred Owen, “Futility”, ll.13,14), or related, as in foil:o/[v]#oil (Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”, ll.2,3).

The second fellow in the example from “Futility” could also arguably be identical twin rhyme, in that a/t#all may be rhyming with tall in l.12, rather than toil. An argument for this is the presence of an extended correspondence in between l.12 and l.14:[eI] grew[i:]/p#a/t#all.

“Futility” and “God’s Grandeur” provide strong arguments for the reality of borrowing: in “Futility”, this pair is otherwise the only one in the poem lacking a relationship between the onsets; in “God’s Grandeur”, the borrowing of the /v/ reduces the number of pairs lacking a solid onset relationship to one, namely God:rod. Borrowing is obviously related to mosaic rhyme in that both cross word boundaries.

Breaking occurs when two or more features of a single segment in one fellow are reproduced in two contiguous segments in the other fellow, e.g., [w]once:[fr]ance (Wilfred Owen, “Futility”, ll.2,4) in which the labiality and sonority of the /w/ are broken into the labiality of the /f/ and the sonority of the /r/. Most instances of breaking appear to involve the place of articulation and either sonority or continuancy.

In the next posts, I'll consider the role of the syllable onset in more detail, examining how it plays a role in rhyme schemes from poems by Wilfred Owen and Simon Armitage.

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