LINGUIST List 13.3308

Mon Dec 16 2002

Diss: Lang&Literature: Friedberg "Metrical..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. nilafri, Lang&Literature: Friedberg "Metrical complexity..."

Message 1: Lang&Literature: Friedberg "Metrical complexity..."

Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 23:49:51 +0000
From: nilafri <>
Subject: Lang&Literature: Friedberg "Metrical complexity..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Toronto
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Nila Friedberg 

Dissertation Title: 
Metrical complexity in Russian verse: A study of form and meaning

Linguistic Field: Ling & Literature
Subject Language: Russian

Dissertation Director 1: B. Elan Dresher
Dissertation Director 2: Keren Rice
Dissertation Director 3: Kristin Hanson
Dissertation Director 4: Joseph Schallert

Dissertation Abstract: 

Readers of poetry make aesthetic judgements about verse. It is quite
common to hear intuitive statements about poets' rhythms, such as
'this poet sounds complex'. Yet, it is far from clear what these
statements really mean. In the traditional theory of Generative
Metrics (Halle and Keyser 1971, Kiparsky 1975, 1977, Hayes 1989) the
complexity of poetic meter was understood as a deviation from the
monotonous metrical template. This dissertation proposes a new way of
measuring verse complexity. I argue that complexity is the ability of
a poet to control a number of independent linguistic and
non-linguistic domains at once. The dissertation includes three case
studies. In chapter 2 I show that 18th and 19th century Russian iambic
tetrameter is a case where poets deviate from meter, and at the same
time, control the overall statistical distribution pattern and certain
proportions of the deviating lines. In chapter 3, I show that certain
deviating patterns in Brodsky's iambic verse written in Russian
consistently correlate with the theme of exile. Thus, Brodsky
simultaneously controls rhythm, semantics and the general statistical
distribution pattern. Chapter 4 shows that Brodsky creates a metrical
elision rule, which involves a simultaneous manipulation of metrics,
phonetics, and phonology. Thus, the dissertation contributes to the
linguistic study of poetic meter by proposing a unified cognitive
explanation of various aesthetic judgements about verse.
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