Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Recurring debates on important poetry topics.
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alongtimegone
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Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by alongtimegone » Sat Aug 15, 2015 2:59 pm

I’ve been looking back at comments received on competition entries and thought I’d post some for discussion.

The first is about syllables. In one of my poems I counted every as a three syllable word. The comment on a judge’s sheet was “In speech, ev-er-y is spoken more like
ev-ry.” I agree, and would always write it that way by choice, but I didn’t think the choice was allowed.

Cam-e-ra – three syllables but generally spoken as a two syllable word - cam-ra.
Scen-e-ry a three syllable word but less likely to be shortened to scene-ry.

Wazza

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Sat Aug 15, 2015 4:21 pm

I would like to think that under the circumstances no marks would have been submitted as the Judge would have realized in what category you had used it - but I guess it is up to the individual judge as to how he calls it. Every to me is 3 syllables, likewise camera and that would be how I would use it.
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Brenda Joy
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by Brenda Joy » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:21 am

For what it is worth -- I used to use the ' ev'ry to differentiate that I meant 2 syllables not three but this practice was definitely frowned on by some judges (and approved by others). :? The view I took was that those who did not like contractions were more against their use than their opposition so I stopped using them. :lol:
As a judge I take it that if the rest of the poem shows that the writer has understanding of correct syllabification and stress then either is acceptable if it is consistently used throughout the poem.
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Terry
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by Terry » Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:48 am

Hi Wazza
Like most writers I've been down that track as well, but of late I use 'every' as a two syllable word but that wasn't always the case.

There is a site on the net that you can visit called 'HOW SAY' I think (look under Pronunciation) and you will be able to hear an oral pronunciation of any word you like to enter. A good dictionary also usually show the syllables.

Hope that helps - I suppose if you stop to think about it, you should be able to work out how the writer intended it to be, because the other way would put the sentence out of rhythm - not sure that in the past I've always been smart enough to work that out.


Terry

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alongtimegone
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by alongtimegone » Sun Aug 16, 2015 2:27 pm

Thanks Maureen ..

Hilarious Brenda. :lol:

Not really Terry :lol:

Wazza :?

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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by Shelley » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:02 pm

Hi Wazza

I had the same experience as Brenda - once when I used "ev'ry" I was criticised by a judge because we don't do the abbreviate-by-apostrophe any more. "Every" is such a dilemma for me that I simply don't use it in poetry any more - I look for a synonym! I feel the same about the word "different". I used it as a two syllable word in one poem and the judge specifically commented on the fact that it was a three syllable word and I had used it wrongly. "Evening" is another one!

I think I've already mentioned in a previous thread that I've had the same problem with "Australia" (or is that Australya?). It seems to depend where in the poem the word occurs and how the tongue wraps around it.

I would also like to think that a judge would allow for either usage if the poet has given ample evidence of a good understanding of syllable rhythm throughout the poem, but it doesn't always happen.

The same issue crops up with differences in pronounciation. Some judges tell you that "because" rhymes with "wars", others think it rhymes with "was". And does "demand" rhyme with "sand" or "darned"? Depends where you live!

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alongtimegone
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by alongtimegone » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:20 pm

Thanks Shelley you've certainly given it some thought. Seems like just take your chances and accept the verdict.
Wazza

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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by Terry » Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:17 pm

Hi Again Wazza,
There are several words that can probably be pronounced as either a two or three syllable words.
MEMORY springs to mind or even MEMORIES - I'm never sure myself, but if I read a poem I just pronounce it how I think the writer meant it to be read.
David may be able to shed a bit better light on this.

Cheers Terry

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David Campbell
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by David Campbell » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:20 am

There's no definitive answer to this as (in written competitions, anyway) it comes back to that old favourite, a judge's preference. My default position for writing these days is never to use the "ev'ry" approach, but rather to take the full syllable count for each word. So "every" is three syllables, as is "memory", while "Australia" is four. But I don't penalise any entries if, as Shelley says, the poet has shown a good understanding of metre throughout the poem.

My main reason for emphasising the full number of syllables is that I don't like lazy speech that truncates words unnecessarily, and I'd rather they were pronounced as originally written. It's not hard to use "every" as three syllables or, as Shelley also says, to find an alternative (by incorporating "each", for example). Given the subjectivity involved, the safest option, if you have to use any of these words, is to count every syllable.

Cheers
David

Terry
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Re: Ev-er-y or ev’ry

Post by Terry » Tue Sep 22, 2015 2:57 pm

Thanks David,
In comps I try to avoid these words when possible by rephrasing the sentence, but memory is a word that crops up a lot in poetry and in this case I use it as a three syllable word - and hope the judge does as well.

Terry

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