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Author: Yuchau E. Hsiao

Traditional treatments of meter in nursery rhymes have two disadvantages. First, they focus on only a small number of lines. Second, they pursue derivational rules on a language-specific basis, but lack universal validity. This essay establishes a corpus of 3,155 lines of Taiwanese nursery rhymes and provides a non-derivational analysis of the data. The corpus shows a preference for masculine rhythm, which is found in 93.59 percent of the data. Metrical beat-sharing, then, allows feminine lines to be avoided. This essay puts forth a set of metrical constraints under the framework of Prince & Smolensky’s (1993) Optimality Theory. The constraints are part of Universal Grammar, but are ranked language-specifically in Taiwanese nursery rhymes.

In: Stylistics