Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

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Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by lenessa »

I’m making a conlang which I intend to use in some poetry and songs, but I don’t know whether to make an ending scheme, like Spanish or Latin, or not. Does a language having an ending scheme make its rhymes less impactful.
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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Flavia »

Ending scheme? You mean some common inflectional endings? Well, English doesn't have a lot, yet it rhymes just fine. (Also, remember that rhymes are not necessarily universal in poetry!)
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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Dormouse559 »

I seem to remember a loose trend that the popularity of a poetic device is partly influenced by its degree of difficulty in a language: the device should be neither so easy that it happens constantly in normal speech, nor so difficult that it becomes impossible to compose anything interesting. So perhaps a language where every word ends in one of five syllables wouldn’t prize rhyme that much, because it would happen all the time in everyday conversation. Meanwhile, rhyming suits Modern English poets quite well because it takes some effort to find many rhymes, but they’re plentiful enough to be useful. This isn’t a rule though; poetry is of course influenced by a lot of other factors.
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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Arayaz »

I've actually done quite a lot of thinking about this topic, so I'll just leave my two cents on the table:

In English, we actually can't rhyme most of our inflectional endings. Let me explain. The simplest proposed definition of rhyming is "they end the same way," which isn't very useful. A much better one is: the nucleus and coda, but not the onset, of the last syllables are identical (ignoring slant rhymes). So "act" and "hacked" rhyme, but "tracked" and "retract" don't rhyme (or not as well), since their last syllables are entirely identical. (And the term for the nucleus plus coda is quite literally "rhyme"!)

But this still doesn't work. Do "running" and "seeing" rhyme? Certainly not! But they satisfy that definition. I've found that not only are vowels more important than consonants, but stressed vowels are far, far more important than anything else. And in "running" and "seeing," the stressed vowels are quite different. And that's why we often can't rhyme with suffixes in English ─ the root is usually the stressed part.

But if a suffix does shift stress to its location, it can be used to rhyme. I can't think of many productive English suffixes that are vowel-initial (so that the syllable onsets can be different) and shift stress to their initial vowel (if stress were shifted to a different vowel in it, that syllable would be identical in each), but with Wiktionary, I found two: "-arian" and "-icity." These are rather rare suffixes, especially in nonce usage, but words such as "disciplinarian" and "humanitarian" could easily be rhymed.

In conclusion:
  • At least in the English convention of rhyming, the most important thing is that the stressed vowel (and ideally, the vowel or vowels after it, if any) are the same, and that the consonants before said stressed vowel are different.
  • The vast majority of inflectional suffixes are unstressed, so they can't be used in conventional English rhyme.
  • In a conlang, even if rhyme is prominent, it may well be based on a different concept than English rhyming ─ but if it uses English rhyming, the above will apply to it as well.
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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Salmoneus »

Arayaz wrote: 22 May 2024 03:22 I've actually done quite a lot of thinking about this topic, so I'll just leave my two cents on the table:

In English, we actually can't rhyme most of our inflectional endings.
Yes, we can!

Firstly, off the top of my head we only really have two inflectional endings, -s, and -ed (/-t), both of which can be codas to stressed syllables anyway. [oh, and -en, I guess]

But even if you include -ing as inflectional (or poetically stress -èd), of course we can rhyme them. Here's Fulke Greville (XIV):

Cupid, my pretty boy, leave off thy crying,
Thou shalt have bells or apples; be not peevish;
Kiss me sweet lad; beshrew her for denying;
Such rude denials do make children thievish.

Did reason say that boys must be restrained?
What was it, tell: hath cruel honour chidden?
Or would they have thee from sweet Myra weaned?
Are her fair breasts made dainty to be hidden?


Note rhymes of both -ing and -en. And for good measure we can go to his 'II':

Fair dog, which so my heart dost tear asunder,
That my life’s blood, my bowels overfloweth,
Alas, what wicked rage conceal’st thou under
These sweet enticing joys, thy forehead showeth?

Me, whom the light-wing’d God of long hath chased,
Thou hast attained, thou gav’st that fatal wound,
Which my soul’s peaceful innocence hath raised,
And reason to her servant humour bound.

Kill therefore in the end, and end my anguish;
Give me my death, methinks even time upbraideth
A fulness of the woes, wherein I languish:
Or if thou wilt I live, then pity pleadeth
Help out of thee, since Nature hath revealed,
That with thy tongue thy bitings may be healed.


...and here we have rhymes of -eth and of -ed (which would probably have been -èd for Greville (he tends to note the shortened version with apostrophes).
Let me explain. The simplest proposed definition of rhyming is "they end the same way," which isn't very useful. A much better one is: the nucleus and coda, but not the onset, of the last syllables are identical (ignoring slant rhymes). So "act" and "hacked" rhyme, but "tracked" and "retract" don't rhyme (or not as well), since their last syllables are entirely identical. (And the term for the nucleus plus coda is quite literally "rhyme"!)
It's usually "rime".

And yes, "tracked" and "retract" do rhyme. So do "tracked" and "tracked", for that matter. Consider for instance Emily Dickinson's "130":

Thy sacred emblems to partake —
Thy consecrated bread to take
And thine immortal wine!


Or, more extremely, Edward Lear's "There Was An Old Man of Thermopylae":

There was an old man of Thermopylæ,
Who never did anything properly;
But they said, "If you choose, To boil eggs in your shoes,
You shall never remain in Thermopylæ."


Here, Lear rhymes "Thermopylae" with "Thermopylae".

We could also look at the Beatles:

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad,
Take a sad song, and make it better,
Remember to let it into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.


Here, "make it better" is rhymed with "make it better".
But this still doesn't work. Do "running" and "seeing" rhyme? Certainly not!
Yes, they do. This is called "weak" or "unaccented" rhyme, when two unstressed syllables are rhymed. It's rare in English verse, but very important in many other traditions, and in English sometimes used specifically to evoke Celtic verse traditions. As in Scott's "The Pibroch of Donuil Dhu", where he rhymes "heather" with "gather", "shelter" with "altar", and "rended" with "stranded". Or Greville again (not being pseudoceltic), who in "CV" rhymes "dignities" with "idolatries" and "enemies" with "extremities".

More common, and exceptionally important in many languages, is light rhyme, in which an unstressed syllable (potentially an affix) is rhymed with a stressed syllable. For instance, Robert Graves:

For you in strutting, you in sycophancy,
Have played too long this other part of me,
Doubling the part of judge and patron
With that of creaking grind-stone to my wit
Know me, have done: I am a proud spirit
And you for ever clay. Have done.


Or Robert Burns:

Let us then toast John Barleycorn
Each man a glass in hand
And may his great prosperity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland


Or Scott again:

Cast your plaids, draw your blades,
Forward each man set;
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu,
Now for the onset!


Or Greville again:

The flood that did, and dreadful fire that shall,
Drown, and burn up the malice of the earth,
The divers tongues, and Babylon’s downfall,
Are nothing to the man’s renewed birth;

(i.e. rhyming "shall" with "downfall")
But they satisfy that definition. I've found that not only are vowels more important than consonants,
Note, however, that rhyme can occur with only consonsants. For instance, Shakespeare:
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;


[the rest of the poem's structure makes clear that 'possessed' and 'least' are rhyming here]

Or more systematically Wilfred Owen:

It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared

but stressed vowels are far, far more important than anything else. And in "running" and "seeing," the stressed vowels are quite different. And that's why we often can't rhyme with suffixes in English ─ the root is usually the stressed part.
Even in what is called "perfect" rhyme, unstressed syllables can be rhymed - they just have to be joined to rhyming stressed syllables. That is, the stressed vowel and everything to its right must rhyme. See Gilbert:

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat",
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery –
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy –
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.


This is why poets very often do rhyme -ing and -en, as in the Greville above.
But if a suffix does shift stress to its location, it can be used to rhyme. I can't think of many productive English suffixes that are vowel-initial (so that the syllable onsets can be different) and shift stress to their initial vowel (if stress were shifted to a different vowel in it, that syllable would be identical in each), but with Wiktionary, I found two: "-arian" and "-icity." These are rather rare suffixes, especially in nonce usage, but words such as "disciplinarian" and "humanitarian" could easily be rhymed.
There are plenty of rhyming suffixes. A poet like Greville gives many examples:

Down in the depth of mine iniquity,
That ugly centre of infernal spirits;
Where each sin feels her own deformity,
In these peculiar torments she inherits,
Depriv’d of human graces, and divine,
Even there appears this saving God of mine.

And in this fatal mirror of transgression,
Shows man as fruit of his degeneration,
The error’s ugly infinite impression,
Which bears the faithless down to desperation;
Depriv’d of human graces, and divine,
Even there appears this saving God of mine.

In power and truth, almighty and eternal,
Which on the sin reflects strange desolation,
With glory scourging all the sprites infernal,
And uncreated hell with unprivation;
Depriv’d of human graces, and divine,
Even there appears this saving God of mine.


Or:

I bow’d not to thy image for succession,
Nor bound thy brow to shoot reformed kindness,
Thy plays of hope and fear were my confession,
The spectacles to my life was thy blindness


Or:

What then need half-fast helps of erring wit,
Methods, or books of vain humanity,
Which dazzle truth, by representing it,
And so entail clouds to posterity?

(here, not only do 'humanity' and 'posterity' rhyme, but so do 'erring wit' and 'representing it', even though only the unstressed syllables match)

Greville even rhymes entire unstressed words:

Time fain would stay, that she might never leave her;
Place doth rejoice, that she must needs contain her;
Death craves of Heaven, that she may not bereave her;
The Heavens know their own, and do maintain her
In conclusion:
[*]At least in the English convention of rhyming, the most important thing is that the stressed vowel (and ideally, the vowel or vowels after it, if any) are the same, and that the consonants before said stressed vowel are different.
No, it is not important that the onset is different. And in other languages it may even be compulsory.
[*]The vast majority of inflectional suffixes are unstressed, so they can't be used in conventional English rhyme.
Not true - not only can unrhymed syllables independently rhyme, but unrhymed syllables incredibly frequently rhyme when they follow stressed syllables.


I certainly encourage thinking, but, no offence, perhaps you might want to support your thinking with more reading of actual poetry!
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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Arayaz »

I really should stop trying to be smart

I was going purely off of my own internal compass of "this rhymes / this doesn't rhyme," which are calibrated to what I think is the modern English tradition (the one found in, say, rock music, or poems that people write for school). Most of your examples don't feel like they rhyme to me. (And I'm not trying to imply that you're wrong! Just that I was speaking purely about this tradition, not rhyming as a whole.)

Although, I think you misunderstood my first point. "Crying" and "denying" rhyme to me, but they have more in common than the "ing." When I said "we actually can't rhyme most of our inflectional endings," I meant on their own.

I also was never implying that you couldn't rhyme unstressed syllables, just that the primary requirement was the stressed syllable ─ though now that I think about it, I suppose the post-stress syllables matter equally with the stressed syllable.

But yeah, I am a non-poetry-enthusiast trying to speculate about rhyming, and look where it's got me ─ I'll keep my nose in my own thread from now on.
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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Salmoneus »

I think you're wrong about rock music, actually - popular song lyrics in any genre tend to be very heavy both on identical rhyme (repeating an entire word or phrase as a rhyme) and on (particularly in rap, I think?) consonant-based rhymes. Much more so than in non-sung poetry. Songs in English general, of any age, are also keener on light/wrenched rhyme (stressed vs unstressed) than non-sung poetry, probably because the musical timing often increases the length of the unstressed vowels. Songs are less keen on eye rhymes, though, because they're harder to appreciate when not read.

--------

Anyway, I wasn't trying to say you should stay in your own thread. I was just trying to push back on some enthusiastic over-statement/mis-statement.


You are of course right that the paradigm case of rhyme in English involves rhyming the stressed syllable and everything to its right. This is called "perfect rhyme" and is the standard in most English rhyming poetry of any genre. Everything else is a deviation from this. Perfect verse does not prohibit sharing the onset as well, but this is relatively uncommon - partly because it's seen as excessive, and mostly because it just doesn't present itself as an option all that often anyway other than in identical rhymes of either repeated words (which are seen as unimaginative if not done for a specific effect) or homophones (which are liable to be considered puns and thus inappropriate in serious verse).

However, I wanted to make clear that non-perfect verse, both for the sake of variety and for the production of specific effects, or simply for historical reasons (eye rhyme) has always been a thing in English poetry, even if it's not THE thing. [I quoted a lot of Greville not just because Greville is cool and more people should know him, but also because Greville was often an intentionally uncomfortable and weird poet, and hence used a lot of weird rhymes, particularly a lot of feminine rhymes, which aren't normally so common in English. Taking for instance that "The flood that did, and dreadful fire that shall / Drown, and burn up the malice of the earth, / The divers tongues, and Babylon’s downfall / Are nothing to the man’s renewed birth" quote... the fact that "shall" is rhymed with "downfall" is the least of the ugliness, when you considered the unusual syntax, violent use of commas, juxtaposition of contrasting images and wild segues!]

I also think it's important to realise that these forms of rhyme that are less common in English may be pivotal in other traditions. French poetry, for instance, traditionally considers rhyme of only the final vowel (it doesn't care about the final coda) as only "poor" rhyme, and requires identity of onsets for "sufficient" rhyme ("rich" rhyme also rhymes at least the vowel of the penultimate syllable as well). Irish poetry treats alternations between masculine (stressed monosyllable), feminine (trochaic disyllable) and dactylic (trisyllable) rhyme as foundational to many of its verse forms.


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Re: Rhymes in languages with/without consistent endings

Post by Khemehekis »

Rock music does occasionally rhyme an accented syllable with an unaccented one. Consider Pink:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJWIbIe0N90

Until we meet again (Meet again)
Until we, until we meet again
And I won't forget you, my friend
What happened?

Or SHAED:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzylc-7PwQ4

I've been having dreams
Splashing in a summer stream
Trip and I fall in
I wanted it to happen
♂♥♂♀

Squirrels chase koi . . . chase squirrels

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