Synonymy and rank in alliterative poetry

  • Jonathan Roper University of Tartu


This paper addresses the high sonic demands of alliterative metres, and the consequences of these demands for sense: the semantic stretching of common words and the deployment of uncommon (archaic, 'poetic') words. The notion of alliterative rank is discussed as an indicator of such consequences (examples are given from English and Estonian verse) and the range of onsets found for synonyms of key notions in verse traditions is remarked upon.


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Author Biography

Jonathan Roper, University of Tartu
Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu
How to Cite
Roper, J. (2012). Synonymy and rank in alliterative poetry. Sign Systems Studies, 40(1/2), 82-93.