A modular metrics for folk verse

Hayes & MacEachern’s (1998) study of quatrain stanzas in English folk songs was the first application of stochastic Optimality Theory to a large corpus of data.1 It remains the most extensive study of versification that OT has to offer, and the most careful and perceptive formal analysis of folk song meter in any framework. In a follow-up study, Hayes (2003) concludes that stress and meter — or more generally, the prosodic structure of language and verse — are governed by separate constraint systems which must be jointly satisfied by well-formed verse. Apart from its convincing arguments for a modular approach to metrics, it is notable for successfully implementing the analysis in OT, a framework whose parallelist commitments might seem philosophically at odds with modularity.
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