Journal Article

Calculating syllable count automatically from fixed-meter poetry in English and Welsh*

Michael Hammond

in Literary and Linguistic Computing

Published on behalf of EADH: The European Association for Digital Humanities

Volume 29, issue 2, pages 218-233
Published in print June 2014 | ISSN: 0268-1145
Published online May 2013 | e-ISSN: 1477-4615 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqt019

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In this article I develop a set of simple algorithms for deriving syllable count information for words from fixed-meter poetry. The focus is on the determination of what features of language or meter might be most useful. I therefore first review what factors might be useful for this, selecting those that require as little information as possible about the language in question and making as few computational demands as possible. We end up with algorithms based on: (i) the number of syllables in each line, (ii) the number of words in each line, (iii) the number of letters in those words, and (iv) the frequency of those words.

I test these algorithms on corpora from English and Welsh, getting parallel results in both cases. The results establish that the variables I identify do have significant success in deriving syllable count, but that work remains to be done.

Journal Article.  7356 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Computational Linguistics ; Language Teaching and Learning ; Bibliography ; Digital Lifestyle ; Information and Communication Technologies