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Metrical meanderings

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 5, 2006, 14:51
This concerns pronunciation in the context of English, but it is not
YAEPT.  It concerns the way consonant clusters split up, and for once
I'm more curious how it works in other languages than I am in
differences between dialects within English. :)

The thought began while I was listening to the song "Total Eclipse of
the Heart", written by the great Jim Steinman (and yeah, recorded by
Bonnie Tyler - might not have been as big a hit if sung by Steinman's
regular partner Meat Loaf...)

Anyway, it has an interesting rhyme pattern:

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you're never coming 'ROUND

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the SOUND of my tears...

And so on.  The first of each pair of stanzas ends on the rhyme, while
the second one only rhymes in passing before continuing right on with
nary a pause.  I'm sure there's a word for this pattern, but I don't
know it.  In any case, one later verse in particular struck me:

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit restless
And I dream of something WILD

(Turn around)
Every now and then I feel a little bit helpless
And I'm lying like a CHILD in your arms . . .

(Lyrics may not be exact; I didn't Google them but am relying on
memory).  The odd thing is that, because of the en passant nature of
the rhyme, this pair doesn't actually rhyme for me.  It sounds
slightly off, because in connected speech and song I break "child in"
between the L and the D, so the phrase "child in your" comes out as
something like /'tSajl.dn=.jO`r\/.  If I intentonally lump the -d in
with the first syllable, then it rhymes but sounds unnatural, like I'm
delaying the onset of the "in" syllable.

I'm guessing this shuffling around of syllable boundaries in the
vicinity of consonant clusters happens quite regularly and just
usually goes unnoticed.  I was wondering if any languages had phonemic
distinctions based on such boundaries, where, say, "ka-ching" and
"catching" and "cat shing" would all mean different things, and the
distinction would lie not in the emphasis or vowel quality but in the
location of the syllable boundary...

Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>


Dirk Elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>
Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Dan Sulani <dansulani@...>