Language structure and verse structure.

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This thesis sets out to find ways of discussing the structure of English verse purely in terms of language without recourse to extra-linguistic metrical abstraction. Transformation-generative grammar and other linguistic theories are brought together wherever possible in order to search out linguistic tools for the analysis of verse structure. The 'structure1 of verse is taken to include verse movement and verse language, but not poetlo form or content. Section I This section sets out to develop the phonemic clause as a possible unit of verse structure. The role of Juncture and intonation in verse movement are considered as well as that of stress, and so is the connection of the perception of suprasegmentals with the underlying phrase structure. The syllable Is considered as the segmental unit of language and its traditional role In verse theory is discussed. The verse line is considered both as a graphic unit and in its relationship to spoken language. Juncture is found to be the factor common to both the phonic division of speech and the graphic division of verse. Verse is divided into two main types according to structure: metered and unmetered verse. The language elements of both metered and unmetered verse are examined together with the possible effect of breathing, and other physiological rhythms, on verse movement. Rules are postulated for the generation of a hypothetical verse line as an extension of H.B. Stookwell's rules for Intonation in the generation of a sentence. Section II In this section, six examples of unmetered verse are analysed according to Juncture divisions into phonemic clauses and are discussed according to underlying phrase structure and other linguistic features. In all six poems, a second analysis is made according to the poet's reading of the poem. A graphic recording of the voice sound was made in each case, and for the live readings, there was also a graphic recording of breath by means of a respiration curve synchronised with the voice. Conclusions The conclusions of this thesis are that verse structure can be analysed In terms of Juncture and the phonemic clause. That Juncture plays a significant part In the movement of verse and offers a practicable division point for the setting up of a unit of verse movement. That the poet's particular use of verse language is an extension of the main language. That in any physical observation of verse readings, the limitations of perception must be taken into account. That although breathing patterns as observed suggest possible connections with the verse line, no general conclusions can be drawn at this point.


Thesis (M.A.) - Dept. of English - Simon Fraser University

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Subject headings: 
English language -- Versification.
English language -- Phonetics.
English language -- Phonemics.
Lionel Kearns
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.