1. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    Syllables in Metric Verse

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by astroannie, Dec 30, 2011.

    I have a poem where the crticism was the syllabilification. Am I correct in standing my ground if it works when I read it aloud?
     
  2. Amr M. Abdu
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    Amr M. Abdu Member

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    Yes, I believe you are.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If it works for you, then it works. Who was doing the criticizing? An instructor? Have them read it aloud and compare versions.
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Depends on the poem's form. Some have very strict rules regarding number of written syllables per line, others don't.
     
  5. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    The poem in question is a sonnet. I think the particular flavor of sonnet is called "Shakespearean" but am unsure, as I've not had formal training in poetry.

    Here is my reply to the critic:
    I haven't gotten a reply yet and it's been a couple weeks. This is on another forum.

    I desire critique. But it doesn't help me if I can't see what the issue is alleged to be. I believe that's part of why I'm exploring this.

    No, I don't want to "sneak in" a critique before I've paid my dues -- what I want is to know if I'm completely off my rocker in thinking that I have it right.

    It's not as if I'm trying to rhyme "wire" and "are" or something equally colloquial.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Ideas is tricky, since it could be read as either two or three syllables, but it's easily justified and certainly not problematic in and of itself assuming its formal context is clear.
     
  7. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    What does the two-syllable form of ideas sound like? I can imagine that would totally munge what i'm saying.
     
  8. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    PS -- you're in Auckland -- Happy New Year.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'ideas' is not spoken as having 3 syllables... we normally hear only 2, which then makes your stressed 'are' immediately follow a preceding stressed syllable and puts the meter off and the line is no longer iambic pentameter...

    here's how this line is heard:
    determine what ideas are conveyed

    both 'are' and 'con' are spoken/heard as unstressed, leaving you with only 4 stressed syllables instead of the required 5...

    and i suspect that is what your critiquer found fault with...

    sorry to say you don't... i'm a full time poet and mentor many aspiring ones, so if you want some help with this before you can post in the workshop sections, feel free to email me any time... meanwhile, hope this helps some...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  10. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    from http://www.merriam-webster.com which is the Merriam-Webster dictionary website.

    So I'm not wrong--or right.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is not true. Nearly everyone I've ever met pronounces "ideas" with three syllables. The only exceptions have been a couple of people with relatively uncommon British accents (I don't know what region they were from) who pronounced it i-DEES. I've heard other British people (and some eastern Canadians) say i-DEE-ers.

    But in my experience, through most of Canada and the United States, "ideas" has three syllables.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, I've only ever heard "ideas" pronounced as three syllables.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, 'ideas' technically has 3 syllables, but the third isn't pronounced strongly enough to work poetically and metrically in that line... it's sort of 'slid over' or swallowed, the last two nearly blended into one... compare it to other 3 syllable words having all 3 syllables more audibly defined:

    syl-la-bles
    au-di-bly
    e-la-tion
    mar-gin-al

    if there was no problem with the meter in that line, you'd have received no criticism of the syllabification, would you?
     
  14. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    The criticism is correct because it is criticism?
     
  15. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    I think it may be dialectic/regional. I think it may be a case of the difference between "American English" and "British English", as most of the people who think three are in the US.
     
  16. blackbird04217
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    blackbird04217 New Member

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    I'm from the US and I can't count three syllables when I say ideas. I mean, I suppose it could be broken down as you stated, but it really flows like a two syllable word. I-deas.
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This, again, is not true. The third syllable IS pronounced strongly enough to work both poetically and metrically in that line. You don't elide unless the rhythm requires you to. When it requires you NOT to, you keep the syllable. That's what happens in this case.

    "Determine what ideas are conveyed" is fine iambic pentameter. The beats are in the right places. Criticizing that line based on meter is ridiculous, and whoever did so is full of BS. Astroannie should absolutely stand her ground.
     
  18. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Yeah, to be clear, I usually hear (and say) ideas with three syllables, but I've heard it pronounced as i-dea, where dea is pronounced like "deer". It's a weird, long syllable, but still one syllable.
     
  19. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    So basically, I need to find a better word.
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No you don't, I think. I mean, you could try "Determine what conceptions are conveyed" if you want to please mammamaia, but that's not necessary. "Ideas" is fine, and I think anyone saying it doesn't work metrically in the poem has probably spent their childhood among people who mispronounce "ideas". So, in answer to the question you first posted, stand your ground. If it works when you read it aloud, then it works.
     
  21. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    Not a one-for-one swap but a re-work of the line. I"ll post it for critique when my rookieness wears off.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    minstrel...
    there's no call for rude put-downs of those who don't agree with you... such behavior is not acceptable on this site... you can agree to disagree without being disagreeable, y'know...
     

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