32 Comments

  1. The numbers are seven and eleven, which also happen to rhyme with the names of everybody (except Frazz) in this strip.

  2. It’s the “only two” in the first panel that puzzles me. Even ignoring identical second digits on all the numbers above 20 (such as “21” ~ “31”), it seems to me that all the “teens” (13-19) would count as rhyming.

  3. The best rhymes include everything starting with the first vowel in the shorter word. By that metric, “seven” and “eleven” are the only rhyming numbers.

    “Twenty-one” and “thirty-one” rhyme their second and third syllables, but not their first, in any capacity. That makes them pretty weak. Same with the “-teens”.

  4. To slightly refine Powers’s correction of those too eagerly finding supposed rhymes, another factor in where you can start matching is which syllables are stressed (or “accented” in another terminology).

  5. Not indisputably good. I will not entertain quibbles about pronunciation. I’m busy have to get to work. There would be more ending with “vin” and “von” and “van” too, I’ll bet.

    riven, hoven, coven, unshaven, sloven, cloven, uneven, unproven, striven, unforgiven, misgiven, undriven

  6. To clarify my very-condensed remarks on rhyme, consider the two most common patterns in traditional considerations of rhyme in English verse.

    In what was traditionally known as “masculine rhyme”, a single-syllable pattern, both lines (we said we’re looking at verse) end in a stressed (or “accented”) syllable, which often would be a separate word but is not necessarily that. And these final syllables in the two lines rhyme. Looking just at words, “teen” and “glean” are masculine rhymes.

    (What it means for a pair of single syllables to rhyme is where Powers’s mention of “vowel” comes in — for two closed syllables to rhyme, they would have matching syllabic core vowels, and also matching closing consonant, but would differ in consonants preceding the syllabic core vowels. There are slightly less good grades of rhyme, on this view, which a versifier can get by with, but are open to argument. One is “off rhyme” where something we posited as being identical in the two samples are just similar, not identical. The other is on the opposite swing of the pendulum — it may be called “perfect rhyme” but is counted as somewhat inferior, when something posited to differ is the same in both samples, so that the two syllables are identical.)

    In what was traditionally known as “feminine rhyme”, the final syllables are unstressed (or have a subordinate, probably “tertiary” stress) and are identical in the two lines / words. But the penultimate (next to last) syllables of the two lines or words are stressed, and rhyme as syllables. Because “SEV” and “LEV” rhyme as syllables, and “-en” is identical in both samples, “SEVen” and “LEAVen” are rhyming words; and “SEVen” and “eLEVen” are words that end with a rhyme. And these are “feminine rhymes”.

    The idea can go further — but as you have to look to a longer string of syllables the effect is often jocular — but the pattern is a straightforward extension of how masculine rhyme and feminine rhyme work. So, we need 1) LAST [primary-]stressed (“accented”) syllable of each sample, 2) in SAME POSITION counting from end, 3) these RHYME as syllables (thus, not identical), and 4) the unstressed (or weakly stressed) syllables that follow are each IDENTICAL (not just rhyming-as-syllables) .

    So, if there were a word “Palamazoo” it would rhyme with “Kalamazoo”. The last stressed syllables are the “PAL” and “KAL” in 4th place back, and they rhyme as syllables. The succeeding unstressed (or subordinate stressed) syllables are: “schwa” in both words, identical; “muh” in both words, identical; and “zoo” in both words, identical.

    (Hey, it could happen that Friends of The Parks could expand to take in zoos, and establish a support category of “pal” like friend but casual, and match donors to particular zoos. Then their in-house doggerel specialist could write

    Join up and become a Pal of My Zoo
    And help the Parks of Kalamazoo)

  7. On that analysis of rhyme, we can’t support Kilby’s suggestion that all the “teens” (13-19) would count as rhyming. But those words, while they do have identical unstressed ultimas (final syllables), do not have rhyme-as-syllable penults (next to last syllables). That is, THIR-teen and FOUR-teen do not count as rhymes, because THIR and FOUR do not rhyme, as they would need to for good “feminine rhyme”.

    Also, Powers is correct that “twenty-one” and “thirty-one” do not count as rhymes. (They would be 3-syllable pattern if they did.) His explanation, “Twenty-one” and “thirty-one” rhyme their second and third syllables, but not their first, in any capacity. That makes them pretty weak is pretty close to what the above analysis would say, but doesn’t quite bring out the the first syllables need to be looked at because they are the last stressed syllables. And they don’t rhyme, so the words as a whole are not good 3-syllable rhyme. (And minor point, the test on the second and third syllables is that they are identical between the two words, not just that they rhyme.) So “thirty-one” and “dirty one” are rhymes.

    Singapore Bill, your context for Not indisputably good. is not clear. It’s fine to not want to entertain quibbles, about pronunciation or anything else. But if we’re asking questions about rhyming, considerations of pronunciation are of the essence, and only quibbles when they attach to inconsequential details. Anyway, if your list riven, hoven, coven, unshaven, sloven, cloven, uneven, unproven, striven, unforgiven, misgiven, undriven is meant to be examples of words that rhyme with seven and/or eleven, they sure don’t work for me — not under my definitions / analysis / principles. Could you explain what definitions / analysis / principles you’re using that would make them work for you?

  8. All the comments, engaging as they are, have been about “good rhymes”. The boy mentioned “good words”. I believe they are talking about good words like heaven and leaven. That their names are in that rhyming group suddenly gives them pause; does it reflect on them (or.., the reader might wonder, might it become an attribute they may find themselves motivated to live up to.)

  9. “None” and “one” rhyme (a masculine rhyme if I’m reading Mitch right…), and Evans & Doherty’s “Tiger Bay”, which is a version of “Spanish Lady”, uses that to effect in the chorus where they sing (with gusto):
    Twenty, eighteen, sixteen, fourteen,
    Twelve ten eight six four two none;
    Nineteen, seventeen, fifteen, thirteen,
    Eleven nine seven five three and one!

    Unfortunately I cannot find this song anywhere online, save maybe for last.fm, where I don’t have an account.

  10. I’m wondering, what aspect of my character would have me add a “may” after already using 2 “might”s in a single parenthetical of a sentence?

  11. Kevin, perhaps you meant to LEAVEN confidence with deference.

    larK, I didn’t recognize either of the titles you gave, but I definitely remember that counting-down by odds and then by evens. From maybe a Clancy Brothers record? I remember it going with “First she washed them, then she dried them” which helped with search. Here is one performance: https://youtu.be/KAJDjYjKObU

  12. These seem to just mention feet! Seems to me you need to count fingers as well as toes to go with 20!

  13. Yeah, the Evans & Doherty version takes the more kicky versions of Spanish Lady, but then sing the numbers bit instead of the “Whack for the lura the lura laido” bit that you usually get. The one you posted just above is not as kicky, but at least it does have the numbers. (The first one you posted looks like it could be based on the title, but I couldn’t hear squat from that track…)

  14. @Mitch4 First, I’m very gratified that you understood me (I kept rewriting it until I’d eliminated any mention of confidence, conviction, etc.) Second, wow, that’s a great phrase. And “deference” is an action that offers a great contrast to, for example, what happens when humility or doubt set in at the time when speaking what one actually knows could be greatly helpful. Thanks for the outside-my-box help.
    I’ve been taught that contrasting two ideas (or methods) is the best way to learn about them. So now, when I design a software function, process, or algorithm, I try to do it 2 different ways at the beginning.

  15. Ogden Nash was the master of feminine and farther back rhymes, although some might say he cheated.

    If called by a panther,
    don’t anther.

    The lion is the king of beasts
    and husband of the lioness.
    Gazelles and things on which he feasts
    Address him as Your Highoness.

    The kangaroo can jump incredible.
    He has to jump because he’s edible.
    I could not eat a kangaroo
    But many fine Australians do.
    Those with cookbooks as well as boomerangs
    Prefer him in tasty kangaroo meringues.

  16. I like those Carnival of the Animals verses, and like to hear them read in between the sections of music. It took a while for me to remember they were done later, and the music is not in any way a setting of the poems. I have to stop myself from asking “But why aren’t they singing this?”.

    But the first Nash poem that I got attached to, in high school I think, and even had by heart for a while, was “LINES FRAUGHT WITH NAUGHT BUT THOUGHT”, from which I paste the first stanza here:

    If you thirst to know who said, “I think,therefore I am,”
    your thirst I will quench;
    It was Rene Descartes, only what he actually said was,
    “Je pense, donc je suis,” because he was French.
    He also said in Latin, “Cogito, Ergo sum,”
    Just to show that he was a man of culture and not a tennis tramp
    or a crackle barrel philosophy bum

    I didn’t know what “cracker barrel” meant, nor the way of joining “bum” after some activity — except in the latter case I got the clue from seeing that on “I Spy” the cover story for the undercover agents was that they were “ski bums”. And since then I’ve been happy to be a cracker-barrel philosophy bum.

  17. Interesting. I’ve known ‘Oh kangaroo, oh kangaroo/Be grateful that you’re in the zoo/And not transmuted by a boomerang/To zestful, tangy kangaroo meringue’ for a half-century or more, but I never encountered the incredible edible version until today.

  18. @ DemetriosX – Despite my comment @2, I tend to agree with most of the stricter rhyming rules listed above (which would rule out all of the numbers mentioned in my comment and the follow-up strip). As for “pedant”, it’s just a fancy euphemism for “nit-picker”, so as they say, “…if the shoe fits…

  19. I once worked at a place where I was put on committee with 3 other people, their names being Jenny, Kenny, and Penny. I decided that to fit in, my name should rhyme too. But I couldn’t decide on a name, so I created a chart that showed what it was on a particular day – either Benny, Denny, or Lenny. Someone then made a 3-sided paper nameplate to put in the window of my cubicle.

  20. When Jennifer Warnes (pronounced Warrens) was singing as more-or-less backup for Leonard Cohen (she later did a wonderful solo album of tribute to his songs), fans noted that she was so prominent, and so good, on some songs that in effect they were “Lenny and Jenny duets”.

  21. My wife’s first and last names rhyme, and in The Before Time she dated a guy both of whose names also rhymed with both of hers. I can only imagine the jokes.

  22. As I always tell people: “I am NOT pompous! I am pedantic. There is a difference!”

  23. While you guys spend some time in a discussion of rhyme, I’m simply wondering how the little kid can tell the other two kids are looking smug. Their backs are turned to him.

  24. “Listening” to conversations, such as this one, on language impresses me.

    Either I missed a lot more in 3rd grade, when I was out sick most of the year, than I thought or taking business classes in college caused me to miss on a lot of language classes then.

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