Phonological patterning in German verse

David Chisholm

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4 Scopus citations


While numerous tentative conclusions might be drawn from the data presented here, the following generalizations are consistently supported by the results of the Phonological Frames Program: (1) In the iambic pentameter poems analyzed, the poetic style of the late nineteenth-century poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer is distinguished from the early nineteenth-century poets Goethe, Schlegel, Brentano, and Mörike by a very high coefficient of phonological equivalence in both primary and secondary even frames, as well as a tendency to increase odd-frame equivalence in the second half of the poem. (2) The phonological style of the sonnets by Heinrich Heine contrasts sharply with that of his early nineteenth-century contemporaries and shows a strong similarity to that of C. F. Meyer. Like Meyer, Heine has a higher coefficient of equivalence in primary and secondary even frames, and shows a tendency to increase disruptive equivalences in the second half of the poem. (3) Goethe is distinguished from the other poets by having the least contrast between even and odd frame equivalences, the lowest range of values from one poem to another, the lowest coefficient of equivalence in Primary Frames 1 through 4, and the highest percentage of decrease in Frame 1 equivalences in the second half of the verse line. (4) All poets analyzed show a higher coefficient of phonological equivalence in primary frames than in secondary even frames, even when end-rhyme is excluded from consideration. Conclusions based on the results presented here are of course subject to modification as the investigation is extended to include other verse forms, poets, and periods. The results obtained thus far, however, demonstrate that individual stylistic features which distinguish the work of one poet from another are present on the phonological level as well as the conceptual level of the verse structure. Poetic phonology represents a fertile field for further investigations of style.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
JournalComputers and the Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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