I know some languages besides English, and poetry in them rhymes much better than it does in English.

It's subjective, I know, but I feel like poetry generally sacrifices clarity for rhyme, while in English, it's very low on both.

I wonder if rhymability of languages is something that could be quantified, and if so, has it been?

  • 2
    Use of end rhyme depends on having many words whose ends sound the same. English has some, but English doesn't do much to the ends of words; Tom Lehrer's riff on the -ility suffix in When We Are Old And Grey is about the most I've ever seen. Languages like Italian, on the other hand, have legions of nouns, verbs, and adjectives that can take the same suffixes, and do. Dante wrote thousands of AABA BBCB CCDC ... quatrains in the Divine Comedy, but Robert Frost was only able to do four in a row in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and he had to repeat the last line to do that. – jlawler Aug 8 '20 at 0:09
  • 1
    You’ll have to define ‘rhyme’ first. It’s not simple. Each language has its own unique set of rules that govern what ‘rhyming’ means, and not least what constitutes optimal and suboptimal rhymes. And don’t forget some traditions of poetry (including Old English epics like Beowulf) didn’t really use end-rhymes at all, but ‘rhymed’ rather through systematic alliteration in specific metric positions. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 8 '20 at 17:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.