11 comments on “Linguistic puzzles

  1. Er… bisyllabic has four syllables. Iambic doesn’t mean “having two syllables” – as any fule know, it refers to a specific subset of bisyllabic words.

    Yours pedantically,

  2. There are only so many two-syllable words… using up one for “comprising a metrical foot of two syllables, the second one stressed” would be a bit of a waste.

    Then again a dactyl, if I remember correctly, is a foot of two stressed syllables. Which tells against my previous statement. And a spondee I recall as being three syllables, the last one stressed., but spondee is a two-syllable word.

    Ah well, human languages aren’t Huffman coded.

  3. Why do we have a black word to mean coloured?
    Why do we have a word of no measurable weight to mean ton?
    Why do we have a little word to mean huge?
    Etc.

  4. Well, that way we can have a four syllable word to describe the word that describes a word with three syllables, a five syllable word to describe that one…and so on, thuis establishing the mathematical proof that lexicography is a job for life.

  5. …err there was an error in my proof, in that I wrote three syllables when I meant two syllables…

    …I’ll stick to making pedantic points about economics, as I usually do, from now on…

    …I’ll get me coat.

  6. A Mcguinn’s definitions are a bit off: dactylic is the Greek for finger hence the pterodactyl was named after the fingers on its wings.So it is one long two short like the bones in the finger.Basically the waltz or 3 rhythm.
    A spondee is n’t used as a rhythm but it is two syllables,generally two short words stuck into some other rhythm to have an arresting or jarring effect.
    A pity there are not blogs discussing poetry.

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