Acoustic spectrum analysis of Mahri orature

An empirical approach to Bedouin vernacular prosody

in Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
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The question of the metrical organization of Arabian vernacular orature has historically been defined by two approaches: one holds that its metrical system is based on patterned beats of stress, while the other proposes regular alternations of long and short vowels. In this article, I describe some preliminary experiments in using a digital method to derive visual spectrograms of the same lines of Mahri poetry performed in two different modes: chanting and recitation. Given the discrepancy in results between the two, my findings suggest that the organizational rhythm of bedouin vernacular poetry is contingent on performance and is not intrinsic to the poetic text itself. The results further cast suspicion on the salience of vocalic quantity or syllabic quality as the prime determinants of Bedouin vernacular prosody.

Acoustic spectrum analysis of Mahri orature

An empirical approach to Bedouin vernacular prosody

in Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

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References

1

Liebhaber (2010): 163–182.

2

Bailey (2002): 387. Palva (1993) allows for the presence of accentual prosody in certain regional poetic idioms of nabaṭi poetry (“the Syrio-Mesopotamian periphery”) but argues that it is an innovation to an originally quantitative prosody that has been maintained in the Najd.

3

Sowayan (1985): 152–153. Sowayan’s conclusions are echoed in Caton (1990): 280–281 although Sowayan and Caton arrive at their conclusions by different routes. Kurpershoek (1994) and Holes and Abu Athera (2011) indicate their agreement with Sowayan’s conclusions although Holes and Abu Athera incorporate stress as a superstructural feature of oral delivery in their analysis: present but without direct salience to the underlying metrical patterns (Holes and Abu Athera [2011]: 29–30).

4

Landberg (1905): 117.

5

Landberg (1905): 134.

6

See Johnson“Computer Technology and the Study of Music and Prosody”2001.

7

Johnson (2001): p. 5.

8

Johnson (2001): p. 7.

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