Metrics is often defined as a discipline that concerns itself with the
study of meters. In this volume the term is used in a broader sense that
more or less coincides with the traditional notion of 'versification'.
Understood this way, metrics is an eminently complex object that displays
variation over time and in space, that concerns forms of a great variety
and with different statuses (meters, rhymes, stanzas, prescribed forms,
syllabification rules, nursery rhymes, slogans, musical text setting,
ablaut reduplication etc.), and that as a cultural manifestation is
performed in a variety of ways (sung, chanted, spoken, read) that can have
direct consequences on how it is structured. This profusion of forms is
thought to correspond, at the level of perception, to a limited number of
cognitive mechanisms that allow us to perceive and to represent regularly
iterating forms. This volume proposes a relatively coherent overall vision
by distinguishing four main families of metrical forms, each clearly
independent of the others and amenable to separate typologies.