Original Articles

How universal are children's verse rhythms?: Some Tsonga evidence

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 10, issue 4, 1990 , pages: 275–287
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1990.10586857
Author(s): MaryC. BillDepartment of African Languages, Republic of South Africa


Among the features claimed to be universal in the rhythmical patterning of children's verse, are the four-beat verse line and the four verse line stanza. These claims are described and discussed within the context of African oral poetry in general and of Tsonga children's verse in particular. Evidence from recent research in this field, inspired by Rycroft's work, partly substantiates and partly refutes these universalista claims. Apart from rhythmical patterning, other features examined in this article include those of stanzaic structure, functional criteria, the presence or absence of melody, the nature of participation and other performance features.

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