Meter, prosody and performance: evidence from the Faroese ballads


In this paper, I argue that the folk ballad tradition of the Faroe Islands, to date never examined in detail by metrists, offers substantial empirical support for the necessity of maintaining the classic metrical template, as well as the distinction between metrical and prosodic structure: meter is an abstraction which can neither be collapsed into phonology, nor fundamentally detached from it (Kiparsky 2006, Blumenfeld 2015, pace Hayes & MacEachern 1998, Fabb & Halle 2008). The ballad performances also reveal a unidirectional correspondence from strong metrical positions to strong dance steps and strong musical beats, indicating that metrical prominence plays a significant role in determining rhythm. The Faroese tradition thus provides a window into the relation between metrical structure and performance. In support of my conclusions I draw upon both the ballad texts and audio-visual recordings of sections of sample ballads I made on the Faroe Islands.

Nordic Journal of Linguistics, 1–35