The Accentual Structure of Estonian Syllabic-Accentual Iambic Tetrameter


  • Maria-Kristiina Lotman Department of Classical Philology, University of Tartu
  • Mihhail Lotman Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu



Estonian verse, iambic tetrameter, rhythm, statistical analysis of verse


This paper is part of a project aimed to analyse the rhythm of Estonian binary verse metres. It is the first complex analysis of Estonian syllabic-accentual iamb. The analysis is comprised of poetry by 20 prominent authors from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and, all in all, more than 9000 verse lines. In order to find out which regularities are specific to poetry in general or to a particular poet, these data were compared with pseudoiambic segments extracted from prose. Differently from the earlier studies, stress is treated as a phenomenon of gradation, with altogether five different degrees of stress distinguished. The performed study showed that the rhythmical structure of iambic poems allows the clear distinction between two groups of poets, whom we conditionally call Traditionalists and Modernists.


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