Ars Metrica

Language change and metrics —

versification in the Middle High German and Early New High German Nibelungen tradition

This pa­per sug­gests a dir­ect re­la­tion between met­rics and lan­guage rhythm on the basis of the evol­u­tion of meters. It fo­cuses on the mani­fest­a­tion of lan­guage rhythm in Ger­man epics. This ma­jor type of folk verse guar­an­tees a long-term eval­u­ation pro­cess by both col­lect­ive au­thor­ship and the audi­ence. The con­sequences of lan­guage change for met­ric­al sys­tems are ex­em­pli­fied by the met­ric­al change from the Middle High Ger­man Ni­be­lun­gen­lied (13th cen­tury) to the Early New High Ger­man Lied vom huernen Sey­frid (16th cen­tury). In ad­di­tion, Hans Sachs’ tragedy Der huernen Seu­frid (1557) ex­em­pli­fies the Knit­telvers, which evolved from the Ger­man­ic tra­di­tion. The pros­od­ic change from Middle High Ger­man ac­cent-based quant­ity to New High Ger­man quant­ity-in­sens­it­iv­ity is re­flec­ted in the ad­apt­a­tion of the old met­ric­al sys­tem to the new pros­od­ic basis. Thus changes in met­ric­al pat­terns provide evid­ence for the pros­od­ic found­a­tion of met­ric­al sys­tems. Read more