Rhyme and Cognitive Poetics

Tsur, Reuven (1996) Rhyme and Cognitive Poetics. [Journal (Paginated)]

Full text available as:

[img] HTML


In this essay I provide a comprehensive cognitive view of rhyme, one of the most powerful resources of poetic language. Readers and critics have strong intuitions on the matter of rhyme but find it difficult systematically to address its manifestations and the construction of its overall affect in the poetic passage. Hence critics all too frequently discuss rhymes impressionalistically, in sporadic, ad hoc semantic analyses, and rely on readers to work out how these account for a poem’s perceived affect(s). At other times, critics gorund their argument in intertextuality, recasting rhyme as an enigma displaced from one text to another. Here I attempt to uncover the sources of possible affects of rhyme, suggesting critical tools for addressing it in a meaningful way in the hope of systematically relating its affects to its structure. Speech sounds are abstract categories, from which rich precategorical sensory information is typically stripped away. Nevertheless, some of this information does reach the cognitive system, reverberating briefly in short-term memory and facilitating, by way of certain cognitive tasks, the processing of certain verbal material. Rhyme exploits and enhances this sensory information. There is some experimental evidence that memory traces of two words that appear consecutively, that is, spread out in time, may be fused and perceived as if they were simultaneously present. Basing some of my findings on adaptations of gestalt psychology, I suggest that similar processes may occur in the interaction between phonetic categories and the underlying acoustic information, enhancing them or toning them down. Further, I consider the possible interaction of semantic or thematic features with acoustic information underlying speech sounds, as well as some conditions that maximize our tendency to respond to groups of individual stimuli as unified “percepts”, which may account for the perceived qualities regularly associated with certain rhyme patterns, and I examine the relatively rare dactylic rhyme in and attempt to account for some contradictions regularly ascribed to it

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:Rhyme, Gestalt, Cognitive Poetics, Phonetic Code, Rhyme and Meaning, Dactylic Rhyme, Componential Analysis.
Subjects:Psychology > Psycholinguistics
Psychology > Psychophysics
ID Code:735
Deposited By: Tsur, Reuven
Deposited On:18 Aug 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

Commentary/Response Threads


Repository Staff Only: item control page