Chapter 5 Phonological Overregularity
? Phonological overregularity is characteristic
of literature, especially poetry.
consists of two aspects: phonemic patterning and rhythmic patterning.
1. Phonemic Patterning
? In English, phonemes may be patterned in
different ways. (A phoneme is the smallest segment of sound which can distinguish two words. ) ? The most important types of patterning in English literature are: alliteration, rhyme, assonance, consonance and onomatopoeia.
? Alliteration is the repetition of the initial
consonant cluster in stressed syllables.
? The initial consonant cluster: In English, a
syllable consists of three parts: an initial consonant cluster, a vowel or diphthong and a final consonant cluster. ? The initial consonant cluster is formed by 0, 1, 2, or 3 consonants. open/make/stop/spring
? It is the main stressed syllable of a word
which generally carries the alliteration, not necessarily its initial syllable.
? Long alliterates with unlovely in Tennyson’ s
‘Here in the long unlovely street’ (In Memorium).
? Alliteration is frequently found in proverbial
and idiomatic expressions as ____ as grass as ____ as cucumber last but not ____ now or ____ safe and ____ Speech is ____, silence is gold.
? Alliteration is also a feature of tongue
twisters. (1) A tutor who tooted a flute Tried to tutor two tutors to toot Said the two to the tutor "Is it harder to toot or To tutor two tutors to toot?" (Anonymous)
The role of alliteration in literature
(2) Cold are the crabs that crawl on yonder hills, Colder the cucumbers that grow beneath ... (Edward Lear, Cold Are the Crabs)
? Alliteration is used to link together words
that are similar in feeling or thought
(3) When he saw Grendel's gruesome footprints, that great man grieved for his retainers(家臣，侍从). (Beowulf, Translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland)
? The repeated /gr/ sound echoes the sense
or meaning conveyed by the two lines. It helps to create a heavy and depressed mood.
(4) Freedom is not given free to any who ask, liberty is not born of the Gods. She is a child of the people, born in the very height and heat of battle ... (F. Norris)
? The alliteration calls attention to the words
heat and height which carry the alliteration, thus giving great emphasis to these words. ? What the writer is trying to say here is that only through hard and intense struggle can freedom and liberty be won.
(5) The best laid schemes o’ mice and men Gang aft a-gley. (in twist or turn) (Robert Burns, To a Mouse)
is usually used to form a connection of similarity or a connection of contrast. ? However, the alliteration in (5), which links mice and men seems to form a connection of both similarity and contrast.
? Firstly, it forms a referential contrast between man,
the supreme head of animal creation, and the mouse, one of the smallest and timidest, and most inconsequential (trivial) of creatures. ? Secondly, with the help of the conjunction and, it points out a similarity between men and mice who seem to share the vulnerability of fate. ? The connection between the two created by the alliteration seems to emphasize the point that creatures superficially different are basically the same.
? Rhyme is the identity of sounds between words or
verse lines extending back from the end to the last fully accented vowel and not further.
rhymes, which are in the vast majority, are referred to as masculine rhymes.
foe – toe, light – bright
? Two-syllable rhymes are called feminine rhymes.
buffer – rougher, liquor – quicker
? Poly-syllabic rhymes.
tenderly – slenderly
? No pains, no gains. ? Early sow, early mow. ? Early to bed, early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy, ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
and wise. East or west, home is best. In the end, things will mend. Man proposes, God disposes. No bees, no honey; no work, no money. When the cat is away, the mice will play. Think twice, act wise . Birds of a feather flock together. (assonance) Health is better than wealth. (assonance) A hedge between makes friendship green. (assonance) A friend in need is a friend indeed. (assonance)
(6) She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellowed to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies. (Byron, She Walks in Beauty)
(7) Reflections on Ice-breaking Candy Is dandy, But liquor Is quicker. (Ogden Nash)
(8) Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care, Fashion’d so slenderly, Young, and so fair! (Thomas Hood, The Bridge of Sighs)
? End rhymes: Rhymes that occur at the end
of verse lines. ? Internal rhymes: Rhymes that occur within a verse line. ? Half-rhyme: A kind of rhyme which is formed by repeating either the vowel (or diphthong) or the final consonant cluster ? Pararhyme: Popularized by the famous English poet Wilfred Owen, it is the case where the poet repeats the initial consonant cluster as well as the final consonant cluster.
(9) Far from city's strident jangle as I angle, smoke and dream. (Newman Levy, Midsummer Jingle) (10) Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all. (Emily Dickinson, Hope Is the Thing with Feathers)
(11) It seemed that out of battle I escaped Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped Through granites which titanic wars had grioned. Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred. Then, as I probed them, one sprang up and stared With piteous recognition in fixed eyes, Lifting distressful hands as if to bless. And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall, By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell. (Wilfred Owen, Strange Meeting)
? Rhyme-scheme: The rhyming pattern in
which a poem is arranged.
are denoted by using letters of the alphabet.
(12) [Lucy] She dwelt among the untrodden ways Beside the spring of Dove, A maid whom there were none to praise And very few to love: A violet by a messy stone Half hidden from the eye! Fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky. She lived unknown, and few could know When Lucy ceased to be; But she is in her grave, and, oh, The difference to me! (William Wordsworth)
? It can be easily seen that the poem rhymes every other line.
(13)Calm was the day, and through the trembling air Sweet-breathing zephyrus did softly play A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay Hot Titan's beams, which then did glister fair, When I (whom sullen care, Through discontent of my long fruitless stay In Prince’s court, and expectation vain On idle hopes, which still do fly away, Like empty shadows, did afflict my brain. ) Walked forth to ease my pain. Along the shore of silver streaming Thames, Whose rutty bank, the which his river hems Was painted all with variable flowers, And all the meads adorned with dainty gems Fit to deck maidens’ bowers And crown their paramours Against their bridal day, which is not long.. Sweet Thames! run softly till I end my song. (Spenser’s Prothalaraion)
? The rhyme-scheme of a poem plays a part
in its emotional effect. Boulton points out: "The elaborate rhyme-scheme of Spenser's Prothalamion in itself suggests something formal, ceremonious and processional. " (1953: 44) ? If a writer plans to adopt a traditional verse form, then the choice of rhyme-scheme is also determined by that form. ? For example, a couplet by definition requires the lines to rhyme in pairs.
(14) What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare! No time to stand beneath the boughs, And stare as long as sheep and cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. (W. H. Davies, Leisure)
? A Shakespearean sonnet has a more elaborate
(15) Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed, And every fair from fair sometimes declines By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed, But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest, Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest; So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. (Sonnet 18)
The function of rhymes
? The general function of rhymes is to get the
texts more organized and to bestow 'music' to the texts. ? Like alliteration, it may also be used to achieve more significant effects.
(16) For I have known them all already, known them all -Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; (T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
? The rhyme of the last two lines is very
significant. It links together the two words, afternoons and spoons which have a logical association between them. For the words are used in a context of a poem which is about a society that spends its afternoons over coffee and cakes.
? Rhymes may also be used to bind lines
which are closely associated in content.
(17) This lock the Muse shall concentrate to fame And 'midst the stars inscribe Belinda's name, (Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock)
1.3 Assonance ? Assonance is the repetition of identical vowel or diphthong in stressed syllables. It is one of the important phonological features of literary texts.
(18) Think from how many trees Dead leaves are brought To earth on seed or wing... (Vernon Watkins, The Compost Heap)
? The words that carry the assonance, as can be
easily noticed, are: trees, leaves and seed. These words are stressed rhythmically in the lines. Interestingly, we find that the meanings of these words are already associated. More significantly, these words may be said to represent the cycle of life: from the organic to the inorganic and from the inorganic to the organic. ? Thus, assonance not only contributes to musical quality of a literary text, but also to its meaning. ? In some poems, assonance is used instead of perfect end rhyme.
(19) Song Morning opened Like a rose, And the snow on the roof Rose-color took Oh, how the street Toward light did leap! And the lamps went out. Brightness fell down From the steeple clock To the row of shops And rippled the bricks Like the scales of a fish, And all that day Was a fairy tale Told once in a while To a good child. (Donald Justice)
? Most instances of assonance in this poem chiefly
function to unify words and ideas. For example, /ou/sound at the end of the first two lines connects the two lines which express an independent idea: the way morning opened resembles the way that a rose unfolds itself. ? Another effective example is found in lines 13 and 14 where the repeated diphthong /ei/ links together two key words, day and tale, in the metaphorical comparison set up in the two lines.
? Assonance is found not only at the end of the lines
but also within the lines. For example, /ou/sound is also repeated in such words as snow, rose-colour and oh. The use of assonance in these words may produce various effects. For example, when we pronounce the diphthong /ou/, our mouth must open--just as morning light spreads or a rose unfolds. The word oh in line five expresses wonder at the scenes of color and beauty. ? Furthermore, since the sound /ou/ as a diphthong takes longer duration to produce than monophthongs, it may suggest the way morning slowly unfolds in the poem.
? Consonance is the repetition of the final consonant
cluster in stressed syllables.
(20) Like one in danger, Cautious, I offered him a Crumb And he unrolled his feathers And rowed him softer home-Than Oars divide the Ocean. Too silver for a seam-Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon Leap, splashless as they swim. (Emily Dickinson, A Bird)
(21) Nothing lovelier than that lonely call, Bare and singular, like a gull, And three notes or four, then that was all. It drew up from the quiet like a well, Waited, sang, and vanishing, was still. (Jon Swan, In Her Song She Is Alone)
? Like assonance, consonance may be employed to
replace rhyme. This is the case in (20). Instead of using 'crumb / drum', the poet has used crumb / home and seam / swim. ? The consonance in this poem functions to make the text more organized and at the same time adds to the musical quality of the poem. ? Consonance may also be used to link together the key words of a text. This point is well exemplified in (21). ? The repeated /l/ sound effectively unites the key words of the stanza: call with gull and well with still. The /l/ sound in the quoted lines and elsewhere in the poem has a lingering, almost echoing effect, which greatly reinforces the tone of the poem.
? Onomatopoeia refers to the use of words
formed in imitation of the natural sounds associated with the object or action involved. ? It also refers to the recurrence of phonemes in a text unit that suggests certain natural sounds which reinforce the meaning conveyed in that text unit.
Imitation of natural sounds
(22) Crack came an officer's club on his forehead. He blinked his eyes blindly a few times, wobbled on his legs, threw up his hands and staggered back. (T. Dreiser, Sister Carrie) (23) And then the party drove off and vanished in the night shades, and Yeobright entered the house. The ticking of the clock was the only sound that greeted him, for not a soul remained. (Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native)
? The uses of crack in (22) and ticking in (23) create a vivid
effect to the passages. The sounds make us hear as well as see what are described.
(24) Ghost Lake's a dark lake, a deep lake and cold: Ice black as ebony, frostily scrolled; Far in its shadows a faint sound whirrs; Steep stand the sentineled deep, dark firs. (William Rose Benet, The Skater of Ghost Lake)
Ebony: a kind of black wood Scroll: roll up Sentinel: guard
(25) Spring, the sweet spring, is the year's pleasant king; Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring, Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing, Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-wool (Thomas Nashe, Spring)
? The onomatopoeic words seem to work with
other sounds. The onomatopoeic word whirrs in line three of (24) forms a rhyme with the word firs in the next line, thus producing a continuous whirring sound. ? Instead of having just one onomatopoeic word, (25) has several. In fact, the words in the final line are all onomatopoeic. Each of them is an imitation of the sound that a particular bird makes. They thus form a happy, harmonious chorus on the sweet spring.
? Recurrence of phonemes that suggests
certain natural sounds (26) I chatter over stony ways, In little sharps and trebles(高音), I bubble into eddying bays, I babble on the pebbles. (Tennyson, The Brook)
(27) The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices ... (Tennyson, Ulysses)
(28) Or by a cider-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. (John Keats, To Autumn)
? In (26), the three onomatopoeic words chatter,
bubble and babble give a vivid description to the sounds and motion of the brook. They have brought great immediacy to the scene, make us feel as if we were right there by the brook. ? The description is further highlighted by the recurring sounds /l/ (6 times) and /b/ (7 times). ? The sound /l/ belongs to a class of sounds called liquid which is fluid-sounding and the sound /b/ is a plosive resembling the sound of the bubbles. Therefore, their repeated presence makes the text sound more bubbly and stream-like.
? The consonants /l/, /m/ and /n/, the long
vowels /u:/ and /i:/, and the diphthongs/ei/, /ou/, /ai/, /au/ and /oi/ in (27), suggest slowness and peace. ? The consonances of /st/ and /z/ in (28) are perhaps felt to imitate the sounds of apples being squeezed in the cider-press.
? Onomatopoeia is referred to by Alexander Pope
as a necessary part of a poet's technique. He has made the point explicitly with illustrations.
(29) 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, The sound must seem an echo to the sense. Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar. (An Essay on Criticism)
? In line three, there is a predominant use of such sounds
as /s/, /z/ and /f/. These sounds are called fricatives produced by the passage of air through gaps or past obstructions. Their production physically resembles the way the wind sighs. ? In line 4, the long vowels /u:/ and /i:/, diphthongs /ou/ and the soft consonants /s/, /m/, /n/, /z/ and /?/ suggest a peaceful, smooth movement and produce a soft and soothing effect.
? However, when we move to the last two lines,
we may feel that there is a sudden change in the quality of the vowels. Firstly, we have an onomatopoeic word roar, which rhymes with shore so that a continuous roaring sound is heard. Secondly, the recurring diphthong /au/ and the long vowels /o:/ and /?:/, which are long and loud, very much resemble the roar of a torrent. ? In brief, what Pope has shown in the above lines is that the use of sounds to support or reinforce meaning is not only possible but necessary.
2. Rhythmic Patterning
is a stress-timed language. Its rhythm is based on the contrast of the stressed and unstressed syllables.
2. 1 Stress ? In English, every word except monosyllabic ones has one syllable carries the stress. ? Some polysyllabic words may have stresses: the primary stress and secondary stress.
the that two the
? Some generalizations which may help us to
predict the placing of stress: It falls on the syllable before adjectival -ic and on the syllable before nominal -ity. -ic -ity pho`nemic response`bility eco`nomic curi `osity `rhythmic uni`versity
? To learn the distribution of stress in utterances
consisting of more than one word, it is important to know what kinds of words are stressed. ? In English, there are two major classes of words: open-class items and close-system items. ? The open-class items include nouns, verbs (not including: auxiliary verbs), adjectives and adverbs. The class is open in the sense that new items are constantly being created. ? The close-system items include the other six classes of words such as pronouns, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, determiners, auxiliary verbs. The system is closed in the sense that creation of new items is hardly possible.
? In everyday connected speech, it is usually
the words belonging to the open-class that bear stress, though there are some exceptions.
? The rhythmic patterning of English verse is
usually analyzed in terms of metre. ? The metre is the more or less regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.
? The analysis of the metre of a poem usually
consists of two steps：
? The first step is to examine the type of foot it
has. ? The second step is to see how many feet there are in a line.
What is a foot?
? The foot（音步） is the unit of stressed and unstressed
syllables which is repeated to form a metrical pattern. Whose woods these are I think I know His house is in the village, though He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year (R. Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening)
2.2.1 Types of foot
? The four main types of foot, which are generally
? ? ?
allowed to play a significant part in English verse, are: Iamb Trochee Anapaest Dactyl
? Iamb or Iambic foot is the commonest type
of verse foot. ? It has a pattern alternating stressed and unstressed syllables beginning with an unstressed syllable.
2) Trochee（扬抑格） [trouki:] ? Trochee or trochaic foot may be described as alternating stressed and unstressed syllables, beginning with a stressed syllable.
(P. B. Shelley, Song to the Men of England)
? Anapaest or the anapaestic foot is a pattern
in which one stressed syllable alternates with two unstressed syllables, but beginning with the two unstressed syllables.
? Dactyl or dactylic foot may be described as
alternating one stressed and two unstressed syllables, beginning with the stressed syllable.
? Rising rhythms: Iamb and Anapaest start
with unstressed syllables, so they are called rising rhythms.
? Falling rhythms: Trochee and Dactyl start
with stressed syllables, so they are called falling rhythms.
is a rhythmic pattern which consists of two stressed syllables.
Iambic feet are firm and flat And come down heavily like THAT Trochees dancing very lightly Sparkle, froth and bubble brightly.（泡沫） Dactylic daintiness lilting so prettily（优雅)(用轻快的调 子） Moves about fluttering rather than wittily.（飘动） While for speed and for haste such a rhythm is the best As we find in the race of the quick anapaest. (Marjorie Boulton, 1953: 26)
2.2.2 Number of foot 1) Monometer
(Robert Herrick, Upon his Departure Hence)
Importunate: always asking for things in an annoying way.
desolate: sad and lonely
2.3 Metrical Variation
Metrical variation includes:
? leaving one foot without a strong stress, ? putting two strong stresses in one foot, ? inverting any foot, ? putting a hypermetric syllable at the end of a
line or having a catalectic foot (i.e. a foot having one or two syllables short, etc).
Functions of metrical variations:
variations have a strong communicative function and can create great aesthetic effects, for they usually coincide with important words or changes of emotion. ? They can also help to avoid monotony which may arise when a rigid metrical pattern is adopted.
unruly: behaving in an uncontrolled or violent way.
? The basic metrical pattern is anapaestic. ? Completely regular anapaestic trimeters: 6,8,12. ? Nearly regular patterns with only one unstressed
syllable missing: 5,10,14. ? Tetrameter: line 11 has 2 anapaestic feet and 2 iambic feet; line 15 has 3 anapaestic feet and 1 iambic foot. ? Lines 2, 4, 7, 9 have each 3 stresses with a mixture of anapaestic and iambic feet. ? Line 3 has three anapaestic feet with the stressed syllable in the middle of the last foot; or has two anapaestic feet and one iamic foot with a hypermetric syllable.
? The two repeated lines (1, 13) have 3 equal
strong stresses each, so as to make the line sound slow and heavy, thus creating the right mood of mourning.
? The complicated metrical variations seem to
produce a faltering effect to the poem, which well suggests by its sounds the emotion it portrays. ? Nervous and uncertain or unsteady
the following poem fragment in terms of phonological overregularity, and explain how the phonological devices contribute to the poetic meaning:
? The fair breeze blow, and the white foam flow,
The furrow followed free, We were the first that burst Into that silent sea. (S. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)
? Clues: this part of the poem describes the vastness and
quietness of the ocean, and the loneliness of travelling in the sea.