The Metrical Structure of Kashmiri Vanɨvun

  • Sadaf Munshi (University of North Texas)

Poetics, as Roman Jakobson states in his remarks about poetry in relation to linguistics, primarily deals with the question, “What makes a verbal message a work of art?In oral traditions of poetry, various linguistic entities are employed by poets in the formation of metrical constraints without making them obvious as conscious sets of rules (See Kiparsky 1972 [1988]: 96). Many different clues are employed by poets in traditional societies to help understand the nature of these linguistic entities. The main objectives of this paper are: (1) to describe the metrical structure of Vanɨvun – a popular genre of Kashmiri folklore, and (2) to analyze the metrical constraints/peculiarities characterizing the elegant structure of this poetic genre. As a poetic genre, Vanɨvun poses a challenge to most available models of poetic composition where PROMINENCE is treated in terms of metrical asymmetry between Strong and Weak positions. The metrical structure of Vanɨvun presents a three-way distinction in terms of prominence where beats can be classified as: Strong, Weak or Intermediate. The distinction is based on interplay of quantitative, positional and rhythmic factors characteristic of Kashmiri phonological stress (See Munshi & Crowhurst 2011). Under this view, each metrical division (“measure”) in a line typically behaves like a trisyllabic prosodic word in which a primary stress falls on the first and a secondary (“intermediate”) stress on the third (final) syllable. The desired output is achieved through various repair mechanisms in the form of quantity-increasing and/or decreasing strategies applying to the input. Keywords: accentual verse, lexical selection genres, metrics, metricality, morphophonemics, quantitative verse, sprung rhythm, stress, syllabic verse, versification. Read more