The lure of trochaic tetrameter

A commercial for Cyvita is currently going the rounds. It promises

Longer, stronger, and more frequent erections

It begins with two rhyming trochees (SW SW), then branches out into two more complex feet, trochaic in feel but with leading weak (extrametrical) syllables ( ( WW ) SW and ( W ) SW).

Trochees are everywhere in English, and tetrameter is the predominant meter for folk verse of all kinds.

On trochee fixation, see this xkcd cartoon, posted by Mark Libermnan on Language Log on 2/14/11.

On Cyvita, from Wikipedia:

Cyvita is a formulation of two common forms of the metabolite carnitine, Glycine propionyl-l-carnitine and Acetyl L-carnitine, that is supposed to “enhance” the performance of Viagra (Sildenafil) in male users.

Note: I’m not claiming that the ad agency is consciously framing material as trochaic tetrameter, only that the meter comes naturally (and unconsciously) to speakers of English; it “sounds right”.

One Response to “The lure of trochaic tetrameter”

  1. Joseph F Foster Says:

    And as you probably know but some may not, It’s the meter of the great Finnish epic Kalevala, many parts of which were originally “sung” or chanted by participants alternating. Works well of course since Finnish generally has stress on the first syllable of a word. And goes great to the background beat of a shaman’s drum. And it provided a model for Longfellow’s literary epic Song of Hiawatha.

Leave a Reply to Joseph F Foster Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: