Syllables and Meter in Poetry
Meter in poetry is measured by the ratio of stressed and unstressed syllables. It is the rhythmic structure of a line of a poem. Even though the meter is available in all kinds of writings, poetry in specific uses meter consciously to maintain the clarity of the ideas, to maintain the rhythm as well as to emphasize key concepts of poets.
For example, in the word “discuss”, “dis”, is unstressed, and “cuss” is stressed. But if you change the stress by adding emphasis to, “dis”, and unstressing, “cuss”, the meaning completely changes in a spoken context. (A heavy thick-centred disc thrown by an athlete) If you are not native to the English language, at first it will be a bit difficult for you to get used to this concept. However, it always helps when you pronounce the word loud.
The seven golden rules of breaking a word into syllables.
To find the syllables of a word, you have to count the vowels of the word. In the word compare, there are three vowel letters. They are “O”, ‘A”, and “E”.
Now you have to subtract the silent vowels. In this case, we have one, the final “E” Now we are left with, “O” and “A”. that means the word compare has two vowel sounds so that it is a two-syllable word.
You have to subtract one vowel from every diphthong, in other words, when there are two vowel letters next to each other, you only count the dominant vowel sound. In the word cause, “A”, and “U” are two vowels placed next to each other. So, we only count it as one. And don’t forget of omit the final silent “E”. now we are left with only one vowel sound which makes the word cause a one-syllable word.
When there are two middle consonants in a word, you divide them into two. In the word “happen”; between the two vowels of “A”, and “E”, there are two letter “p’s”. so, you divide the syllable between the first “p” and the second “p”
When there is only one middle consonant in a one-syllable word, you divide the word before the consonant. In the word “open”, “p” is the only consonant available between the two vowels of “o” and “e”. so you divide the word before “p”.
When there is a word which contains “_LE”, you divide the syllable before the consonant found before “_LE”. in the word mumble, you break the syllable before the letter “B”, which is found before “_LE”.
NOTE THAT “_CKLE” WORDS ARE EXCEPTIONS. THERE YOU BREAK THE SYLLABLE FROM “_LE”.
Compound words, prefixes, suffixes and roots which have vowel sounds are considered as syllable breaks. ‘Unhappy’, ‘prepaid’, ‘rewrite’, ‘teacher’ can be considered as some examples for those.
Now that you know how to break a word into syllables, by now you should have understood when a word has more than one syllable, one of the syllables is always a little louder than the others. The louder syllable is called the stressed syllable, and the soft syllable is called the unstressed syllable.