Dr. Garrett Field, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology/Musicology in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and School of Music, recently published an article in the peer-reviewed journal Anthropological Linguistics, a quarterly journal founded in 1959 that provides a forum for the full range of scholarly study of the languages and cultures of the peoples of the world. Dr. Field's article is entitled, Scrambling Syllables in Sung Poetry of the Maldives.
The purpose of the article is to conduct a detailed analysis of a poetic device utilized in a form of sung poetry in Dhivehi, the national language of the Maldives. In this sung poetry, poets utilize syllable scrambling as a poetic device. The article suggests that syllable scrambling harnesses processes associated with language games. Yet, while players of language games transform words according to rigid processes, Maldivian poets scramble syllables in response to six poetic constraints. The article distinguishes two broad forms of scrambling and conjectures that one factor that may influence the poet’s decision to scramble syllables is the recitation melody.