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Do children's rhymes reveal universal metrical patterns?

Abstract : Brailoiu (1984 [1956]) and Burling (1966) independently uncovered evidence showing that children's rhymes around the world have strikingly similar metrical patterns and speculated that these may indeed be universal. The first section of this article reviews the Brailoiu and Burling models as well as more recent work by Hayes and MacEachern (1998). A revised version of a Hypothesis of Metrical Symmetry (HMS) for children's rhymes, first formulated in Arleo (1997), is presented in section 2 and then tested for two genres of children's rhymes, English and French counting-out rhymes and English jump-rope rhymes, in section 3. The conclusion offers several explanations as to why symmetry should play such an important role in oral traditions and places the metrics of children's rhymes in a broader perspective, involving the study of isochrony in language.
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Andy Arleo. Do children's rhymes reveal universal metrical patterns?. Peter Hunt. Children's Literature: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, vol. IV., Routledge, pp.39-56, 2006. ⟨halshs-00637386⟩

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