Tackling the Toolkit pp 131–⁠150
Metric Variation in the Finnic Runosong Tradition: A Rough Computational Analysis of the Multilingual Corpus.
Mari Sarv, Kati Kallio, Maciej Janicki, Eetu Mäkelä


This article represents a first step in the corpus-based study of metric variation in Finnic runosong, a poetic tradition shared by several Finnic peoples and documented extensively in the 19th and 20th centuries. Runosong metre has generally been assumed to be a syllabic tetrametric trochee with specific rules about the placement of stressed syllables according to their quantity: long stressed syllables occupy the strong positions in the trochaic schema while short stressed syllables appear in the weak positions. Recent studies by Mari Sarv (2008, 2015, 2019) of Estonian runosong metre have shown, however, that due to linguistic changes, it has gradually lost its quantitative properties and acquired the features of accentual metre.

Using computational methods, this study aims to give a preliminary overview of the extent of metric variation on the quantitative-accentual scale across the entire Finnic runosong area. After an approximate syllabification, we apply two separate indirect methods for estimating variation. These appear to generate coherent results: quantitative runosong metre dominates in the north-east and has gradually been replaced by accentual runosong metre towards the south-west. Subsequent studies should verify these results through more precise and detailed investigations.


Sarv, M., Kallio, K., Janicki, M., & Mäkelä, E. (2021). Metric Variation in the Finnic Runosong Tradition: A Rough Computational Analysis of the Multilingual Corpus.. In P. Plecháč, R. Kolár, A. Bories, & J. Říha (Eds.), Tackling the Toolkit: Plotting Poetry through Computational Literary Studies (pp. 131–150). Prague: ICL CAS. doi: 10.51305/ICL.CZ.9788076580336.09


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