PHONETICS OF SEQUENCES
This part of stylistics deals with prosody and interaction of speech
sounds in sequences.
The term 'prosody', denotes general suprasegmental
characteristics of speech (tonality, length, force, tempo, and, especially,
the alternation of stressed and unstressed elements — rhythm).
The number of prosodic variants (intonational treatment) of any se-
quence (phrase, sentence, and so on) is theoretically unlimited.
As for interaction of speech sounds, of considerable importance is the
recurrence of the same consonant ('alliteration') or the same vowel
Alliteration. denotes recurrence of an initial consonant in
two or more words which either follow one another, or appear close enough
to be noticeable. Alliteration is widely used in English — more often than
in other languages (Russian, for one). We can see it in poetry and in prose,
very often in titles of books, in slogans, and in set phrases.
(Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (Jane
Austin). Short story titles: The Pimienta Pancakes, The Clarion Call, The
Last Leaf, Retrieved Reformation (O. Henry).
The important role of alliteration in English is due (at least partially) to
the fact that words in Old English were mostly stressed on the first syllable.
Assonance. This term is employed to signify recurrence of stressed
vowels. Ex: lines
from The Raven by Edgar Allan Рое:”...Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if within the distant Aiden,
I shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?
Assonance here consists in the recurrence of the diphthong [ei], which
makes not only inner rhymes (laden — Aiden — maiden ), but also occurs
in the non-rhyming words: angels and name.
Paronomasia. 'Paronyms' are words similar (though not identical) in
sound, but different in meaning. Co-occurrence of paronyms is called
'paronomasia'. Phonetically, paronomasia produces stylistic effects
analogous to those of alliteration and assonance. The words raven and never in Poe's renowned poem (And the raven,
never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting),
Rhythm and metre. The flow of speech presents an alternation of
stressed and unstressed elements (syllables). The pattern of interchange
of strong and weak segments is called rhythm.
If there is no regularity, no stable recurrence of stressed and un-
stressed segments, the text we perceive is an example of prose. If, rises and falls (strengthenings and weakenings) recur peri-
odically at equal intervals, the text is classed as poetry (even if it is poor
There can be no other way of distinguishing between prose and poetry.
The smallest re-
current segment of the line, consisting of one stressed syllable and one or
two unstressed ones is called the 'foot'.
A foot of two syllables has either the first or
the second syllable stressed; a foot of three syllables has either the first,
the second, or the third syllable stressed. Thus we have two disyllabic
varieties of feet and three trisyllabic ones — five in all.
The structure of the foot determines the metre, i.e. the type of poetic
rhythm of the line. Disyllabic metres are trochee and iambus; trisyllabic
are dactyl, amphibrach and anapaest.
1. Trochee. The foot consists of two syllables; the first is stressed:
; duty, evening, honey,pretty
2. Iambus. Two syllables. The first is unstressed: u7. Examples of
iambic words: mistake, prepare, enjoy, behind, again, etc.
3. Dactyl. The stress is upon the first syllable; the subsequent two are
unstressed: ;uu. Examples of dactylic words: wonderful, beautiful,
certainly, dignity, etc.
4. Amphibrach. The stress falls on the second (medial) syllable of the
foot; the first and the last are unstressed: u'u. Examples: umbrella,
returning, continue, pretending, etc.
5. Anapaest. The last (third) syllable is stressed: uu'. Examples:
understand, interfere, disagree, etc.
Accented verse. This is a type of verse in which only the number of
stresses in a line is taken into account. The number of syllables and the
type of the feet is irrelevant. Ex “Work! Work! Work!”
Finally, there are poets who reject both metrical patterns and rhyme.
When written or printed, their poems resemble regular verse only because
of the shortness of the lines.
Rhyme. This is the second feature (after rhythm) distinguishing verse
1. Rhymes in words ending with a stressed syllable (i.e. monosyllabic
rhymes) are called male (masculine, or single) rhymes:
dreams — streams
obey - away
understand — hand
2. Rhymes in words (or word combinations) with the last syllable
unstressed are female (feminine, or double) rhymes:
duty - beauty