[LMB] Levels of Bafflement

WILLIAM A WENRICH wawenri at msn.com
Wed Jan 17 21:24:46 GMT 2018


All this discussion of word stress and no one has mentioned “Taxi Driver”. 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jan 16, 2018, at 9:34 PM, M. Haller Yamada <thefabmadamem at yahoo.com> wrote:
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: John Lennard 
> 
> 
> 
> Micki, no doubt you remember that
> 
> 
> There was a young man from Japan
> 
> whose verses would never quite scan ;
> 
> when asked why 'twas so,
> 
> he replied, "Well, you know,
> 
> I always like to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can."
> 
> 
> Micki: LOL! I resemble that remark . . . .(Also saw a variant in Wikipedia as an example!) 
> 
> 
> John: Somewhat more earnestly, it sounds to me as if your school teaching did not
> 
> properly distinguish metre and scansion. Very briefly, the metre is the
> 
> fixed, repeating pattern in the abstract, while the scansion is what your
> 
> voice, or anyone else's, makes of the words spoken aloud.
> 
> 
> Micki: I think this must be true. We had some poetry, but very little memorizing, and while words 
> like "iambs" and "trochees" flit inside my head like little bats, they don't land and make actual 
> sense. If anyone else is reading this and feeling wretched, the OWL at Purdue helps a little bit 
> with the very basics: https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fowl.english.purdue.edu%2Fowl%2Fresource%2F570%2F02%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cb9fa701c4e0f4c96c17008d55d63a656%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636517604919817445&sdata=I4KfFE%2Bb3OOVK9o1PE0P6e%2BD5etGp2KPmZR1jJ9BRh0%3D&reserved=0 (Be sure to check out the 
> related topics in the sidebar.) 
> 
> 
> John: With metre, there is correct and incorrect. 
> 
> 
> Micki: AH! so if someone tells me "That doesn't scan," to some extent it might be just a personal or 
> dialectic difference. "It doesn't scan to me." 
> 
> 
> John: If you tell me that Hamlet's
> 
> "To be or not to be" is in dactylic monometer, you're wrong. But with
> 
> scansion there is no correct and incorrect, though there may be perverse,
> 
> wrenched, or inconsistent as well as effects of national or regional
> 
> accent, inspired, and revelatory.
> 
> 
> Allowing that it's hypermetric, Hamlet's famous line is an iambic
> 
> pentameter. This is the F text.
> 
> 
> To be, or not to be, that is the Question :
> 
> 
> and it -could- be scanned as wholly regular with an unstressed (old term,
> 
> feminine) hyperbeat :
> 
> 
> to BE, / or NOT / to BE, / that IS / the QUES / tion :
> 
> 
> In no sense is that scansion of the metre wrong ; but it's not how I would
> 
> myself scan it, because I'd say
> 
> 
> to BE, / or NOT / to BE, / THAT is / the QUES / tion
> 
> 
> The metre is five iambs and the hyperbeat ; my preferred scansion has an
> 
> inverted foot, a trochee, in fourth place -- and that's not wrong either.
> 
> 
> IMO, having been teaching the stuff for decades, the failure to distinguish
> 
> properly between metre and scansion is the subject's single greatest bane
> 
> at school level, and the consequences of the confusion both put many people
> 
> off it altogether, and produce, for e.g., the painfully awkward readings
> 
> aloud by those who, say, stop to breathe at the end of each line regardless
> 
> of sense and enjambment.
> 
> Micki: INDEED! This difference between scansion and meter is difficult. You say it's not necessarily 
> 
> wrong to scan something differently from the meter but . . . . Is an actor supposed to use the 
> 
> meter, or are they allowed to scan things to add nuance to their interpretation of the words? I do 
> 
> remember my teachers hinting that we shouldn't bludgeon a poem with the meter. I think one suggested 
> 
> that it's OK not to read a poem as DUM-ti-DUM-ti-DUM-ti, if it's really DUM-ti-Dum-ti-ti-ti. (Sorry, 
> 
> I can't give you the real-life example; it's on the edge of my brain and won't be lured in to 
> 
> illuminate my point.) 
> 
> 
> Micki: I'm not going to argue that meter doesn't make a difference. It's possible for a poem to 
> 
> carry a lot of power in the sounds and content. But a poem that carries power in the sounds, content 
> 
> AND meter? Oh, that's a very different thing. I can "hear" the difference, even if I can't describe 
> 
> it. 
> 
> 
> Micki: Unfortunately, I don't think learning this stuff can happen in four class hours (assuming 
> 
> that the curriculum even allowed that much time for meter and scansion). I can see why maybe the 
> 
> teachers I had didn't fully grasp the concept (and passing on a concept you've only got a tenuous 
> 
> hold upon is not a lot of fun, either). 
> 
> 
> Micki: I read Edward Lear on my own in elementary school, so I've got a pretty native understanding 
> 
> of the limerick. Wikipedia says lines 1, 2 and 5 are usually anapestic trimeter (ti-ti-TUM ti-ti-TUM 
> 
> ti-ti-TUM) and lines 3 and 4 are usually two meters of anapestic (ti-ti-TUM ti-ti-TUM). HOWEVER, 
> 
> they make allowance for a missing unaccented syllable at the start of a line (such as: There ONCE 
> 
> was a DROID from DeTROIT), or an extra unstressed syllable for a rhyme (their example is ta-TUM-ta 
> 
> -- but surely they mean it would to ti-ti-TUM-ti? I'm unsure.).
> 
> 
> Micki: Wikipedia says that a phonetician named David Abercrombie makes it simpler -- three stressed 
> 
> syllables in lines 1, 2 and 5, and two stressed syllables in lines 3 and 4. The unstressed syllables 
> 
> are flexible. I haven't messed around with the form seriously enough to know if it works or not. (-: 
> 
> Project for January? 
> --
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