forehead: the little girl with a little curl right in the middle of hers

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Apr 5 20:08:16 UTC 2008

At 3:25 PM -0400 4/5/08, Mark Mandel wrote:
>  >  Arguably, though, identical words (or homonyms)
>>   do rhyme, and the fact that we often don't count
>>   them as rhymes is that their rhyming is trivial,
>>   inferable from their (lexical or phonological)
>>   identity.  One could (and I would) make a case
>>   that a speaker who utters "X and Y rhyme"
>>   conversationally *implicates*, but does not
>>   *say*, that X ’ Y. The OED's invocation in their
>>   "rhyme" entry of 'consonance of terminal sounds'
>>   certainly would predict that "bear" and "bear",
>>   and "bear" and "bare", are indeed rhymes.  Note
>>   that Arnold is not claiming the opposite, and I'm
>>   not claiming that full rhyme requires total
>>   identity; I just wanted to note that while
>>   "rhyme" doesn't require total identity, it does
>>   (as per the OED definition, at least) allow for
>>   it.
>You could ARGUE that, but I don't think most people would agree that a
>word rhymes with itself -- or, at least, I think they'd be a bit
>puzzled by the question, as (IMHO) it was bringing up an assumption
>that they'd never thought of. Those who work with rhyme have a term,
>"self-rhyme", for just that. (E.g., for an
>academic use, or [search for "10:31"] for a
>vernacular one.)
Well, maybe; but this is a claim about the best
account of speakers' knowledge.  So just as I'm
not swayed from an account in which "Some dogs
are mammals" is treated as true even if most
people would immediately judge it to be false,
I'm not swayed (nor, evidently, is the OED) from
treating "bear" and "bare" as rhymes.

In any case, to say that e.g. "clere" and "clere"
involve a "self-rhyme" is not obviously, at least
to my admittedly amateurish understanding, to say
that they don't rhyme.  Is self-killing (i.e.
suicide) not killing?  Or "self-slaughter", as in
the canon Hamlet cites?  Does self-destruction
not constitute destruction?  If anything, I'd
think the use of "self-rhyme" as a hyponym of
"rhyme" argues for my position rather than
against it.  (Another question is whether the
elimination of X/X as rhymes would also extend to
X/Y when X and Y are not instances of the same
lexical item but of homonymous/homophonous ones,
as evidently in the "clere" example.)


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list