Dear list members,
this is what I received on my query about metrical scanners for English verse:
Thank you very much for your responses.
From: Jason Eisner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Not aware of anything, but such a system could be built.
The first step is to find the stressed syllables when the poem is read
as prose. This might be approximated by looking up the dictionary
pronunciations of the words. In general, however, the stress pattern
sometimes depends on part of speech ("progress," "content," etc.) and
even on context.
Text-to-speech systems have to solve this problem, and you may be
able to use such a system to convert your poem to a phonological
representation that accurately marks syllables and their stresses.
Now you have to get from the stress pattern to a tag indicating the
meter type. Hand-written heuristics may suffice for this, though
sloppy meter is perhaps harder to recognize than strict meter. Another
option would be to annotate some examples with tags and train a
statistical model on them. For example, an HMM whose state records
the last few observations (stress, no-stress, line break) as well as
the hidden current tag.
-cheers, jason eisner
From: Susan Hockey <email@example.com>
You can find some discussion of computers and metrical
scansion in my book Electronic Texts in the Humanities,
OUP 2000. The success of this technique depends to
a large extent on the natural language and the specific metre.
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