There is no psychological limit on the duration of metrical lines in performance : against Turner and Pöppel

  • Frederick Turner and Ernst Pöppel (1983) proposed that lines of metrical poetry tend to measure three seconds or less when performed aloud, and that the metrical line is fitted to a three second "auditory present" in the brain. In this paper I show that there are faults both in their original argument, and in the claims which underlie it. I present new data, based on the measurement of line durations in publicly available recorded performances of 54 metrical poems; in this corpus, lines of performed metrical verse are often longer than three seconds: 59% of the 1155 lines are longer than 3 seconds, 40% longer than 3.5 seconds and 26% longer than 4 seconds. On the basis of weaknesses in the original paper, and the new data presented here, I propose, against Turner and Pöppel, that there is no evidence that lines of verse are constrained by a time-limited psychological capacity.

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Author:Nigel Fabb
Parent Title (English):International journal of literary linguistics : IJLL
Publisher:Johannes Gutenberg-Universität
Place of publication:Mainz, Germany
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2013
Date of first Publication:2013/10/18
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/11/27
Tag:Metre; line; performance; time; working memory
Page Number:29
First Page:1
Last Page:29
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:International journal of literary linguistics
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0