Why do 'love' and 'move' rhyme in English poetry while 'move' and 'doom' do...

Why do 'love' and 'move' rhyme in English poetry while 'move' and 'doom' do...

Why do 'love' and 'move' rhyme in English poetry while 'move' and 'doom' do not, or at least do not rhyme so well?

Answer

The English have been literate for a long time. The earliest surviving text dates back to the 7th century, and the first book printed in the English language appeared in the 1470s. There has been ample time for change.

Spelling tends to be gradually standardized as printing is introduced, but pronunciation may keep changing. English spelling and pronunciation have indeed parted ways since printshops replaced scribes. The sound change called the Great Vowel Shift (in the 15th and 16th centuries) is the main cause, but there are other factors - geographical dialects and especially in the case of the British, social class. Consequently, rhyme depends both on the period and the region the poem you are studying originates from.

In Chaucer's days, for instance, love was pronounced [luv], as it still is in various dialects. Around Shakespeare's time pronunciation was changing, and there was no single standard. The pronunciation [lʌv] for love had by then been established, but poets still often wrote as if it was pronounced [lu:v]. Love, move, and prove are such traditional rhymes, which reflect changes in pronunciation.

Sorry it has taken us this long to answer. The list of sources is the result of rather a quick web search (by a person with a degree in English philology, though); it seems there is no concise article readily available.

A few articles and discussions related to the topic:
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/73645/rhyme-in-elizabethan-so...
http://myweb.stedwards.edu/georgek/chaucer/vowels.html
http://www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/COMET/glasgrev/issue4/burns.htm
http://www.public.asu.edu/~aarios/formsofverse/furtherreading/page2.html

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