"Question: How are terms such as iambic and trochaic being applied? If
iambic is shorter+longer, then {one ear} is also iambic (of course, this
interpretation is tricky for stress-timed dialects). If not (i.e. short =
unstressed), wouldn't {two ears} be _1 spondaic_ foot rather than _2
trochaic_ feet?" I.K. PEYLOUGH, USA

English poetry has a large number of feet, and you are certainly right to a
certain extent even for prose.

For the linguist, however, the problem is a bit different because of a
suprasegmental phenomenon in English that is referred to as isochrony. The
stress pattern of an utterance may always be analyzed into two-mora feet
either trochaic or iambic. There will be dangling mora here and there, and
you may have to involve a silent mora from time to time, but basically it

I was taught this both in Lille, France and Newcastle, Britain. The English
phonetic instructor even used the (improper) expression "silent stress" for
the silent foot between "or" and "not" in "To be or not to be", to obtain a
pentameter. But this was just an entertainment with poetry.

To come back to the point, it is best to consider that, in practice, only
trochaic and iambic feet are used in unsophisticated prose. The effect if
that of a more or less regular beat that is so characteristic of English and
strikes the ear of the attentive non-native analyst of English.

Isochrony is so important that I know some serious highschool teachers of
English in Europe use a metronome to train their students.

In the case of a term like <morning>, it occupies the space of a trochaic
foot and the second syllable corresponds to the second mora that is
unstressed . If you now consider <morning sun>, you have two feet; <sun>
fills the second foot, that is trochaic, too : | "mor °ning | '° sun |. You
will have noticed that <morning> and <sun> occupy each about the same space
of time.

Now the compound <morning sun> has its own stress pattern : <morning> has
the compound stress. So we have at two-tier system : each word has its own
stress pattern and the compound has it own "super" stress pattern.

Generally English tends to favour trochaic feet, whichever the tier

The theory is far from being perfect. For instance <infinitely>, as used in
plain English, will fall into two trochaic feet,
| "in °fi | 'nit °ly |, but, admitedly, | 'nit °ly | is not quite
comparable to | '°sun | in "morning sun".

Eventually there is the intonation pattern of the utterance to take into

Well it would take hours to discuss this. I hope I didn't bore you with
things you probably know better than I.