--- In phoNet@yahoogroups.com, "Jean-Paul G. POTET" <potetjp@w...>
> "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?"
> 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 works.
> 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.

Interesting. I didn't know there was a silent foot their.

> 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
> considered.
> 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".

That's one that just doesn't fit the normal pattern. In musical
terms, I'd say it's a bar with a different time signature.

> Eventually there is the intonation pattern of the utterance to take
> into consideration.
> Well it would take hours to discuss this. I hope I didn't bore you
> with things you probably know better than I.

Not at all. My knowledge of these things is mostly not conscious.
It's nice to see an analysis.


> Jean-Paul G. POTET, FRANCE