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Meters and formulas: The Case of Ancient Arabic Poetry

Abstract : The formulaic style of ancient Arabic poetry has much to do with meter and rhythm. It is first shown in this paper how characteristic proper formulas can match different verse-patterns, provided that they undergo slight modifications, such as adjunction, deletion or substitution of conjunctions, prepositions, interrogative pronouns or aspectual markers, some of which mostly function just as stop-gaps for they leave the meaning unchanged while modifying the metrical pattern of the formula. The analysis is then extended to rhythmical formulas, that is combined quantitative and word-stress patterns serving as models for a great number of formulaic expressions. Word boundaries may eventually be specified, as well as some morphological and syntactical informations, so that expressions derived from a same rhythmical pattern can be classified into a number of more or less abstract subcategories. Finally, the combination of specific rhythmical formulas within lines of poetry leads us to the identification of a small number of prototypical verse-instances underlying almost all variations of a same verse-pattern. The example chosen here for discussion is that of ṭawīl-2, which is by far the favourite verse-pattern among ancient Arabic poets.
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Bruno Paoli. Meters and formulas: The Case of Ancient Arabic Poetry. Belgian Journal of Linguistics, John Benjamins Publishing, 2001, 15, pp.113-136. ⟨halshs-00365418⟩

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