What software tools, if any, which can count the number of syllables on each line, to aid in the writing of English-language poetry? What features and pros and cons exist for each?

  • Please try to answer this question so as to provide an overview of these packages. Answers that are extremely short (i.e., just a link or maybe a brief sentence) will be converted into comments. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Mar 24 '12 at 8:16
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    I don't think that any such software exists. Additionally, I'm not sure what purpose it would serve: if you aren't fluent enough in English to know how many syllables are in a word (and therefore in a line, etc.), then you're going to have a pretty big problem writing poetry of any kind. – JSBձոգչ Mar 27 '12 at 17:01
  • Please see my comments beneath Ali's answer for "cons." I can sum up my opinion with this: You need to be able to write on your own, using only your mental facilities, in order to create anything decent. None of the great poets ever used syllable counting software, and it won't help you. It'll be like learning to open a Lunchables box and then using the knowledge to try and prepare a dish of fine cuisine. It just won't help, unless you're only feeding a bunch of hungry third graders. – temporary_user_name Mar 28 '12 at 23:37
  • @JSBձոգչ: I believe if you're creating a normal, strongly lyrical poem, such software would be counterproductive, but if you're writing a book of epic saga in Hexameter or Shloka, it may be immensely helpful to keep your metrical line in check. – SF. Jan 30 '13 at 10:08

This is not something strange. Almost every programming language can analyze text to capture such data. It will be a one-file script. Here is some online applications:




Since the process is simple and straightforward, the features are not very different; just analyzing the text. There should be lots of (simple) desktop softwares too.

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    I don't know for certain, but I find it unlikely that this software functions flawlessly. It's just impossible. There's no consistent way to analyze text to determine the phonetic syllable count. It isn't something that's governed by stable rules. Words like "deontology," "noel," "bored," "actual, and "allowed" would completely negate whatever logic rules you tried to construct. And if the software functions via an English language database, it would fall short for names, foreign language references, gibberish (i.e. the jabberwocky), and onomatopeia-type impressionistic words. Overall, fail. – temporary_user_name Mar 28 '12 at 0:19
  • @Aerovistae Do you not use spellcheck for those reasons either? There are english language dictionaries, foreign language dictionaries, and name lists. Jabberwocky is in the dictionary, and if you're making up words, you can't expect anything to work. If you'd bothered to look at them, you'd see the third link, at least, uses a formula to parse words not found in the dictionary, then displays them with the syllable count so you know which ones they are. – Patches Mar 28 '12 at 22:52
  • @Ali on the other hand, none of them display syllable count per line, which is what the poster was asking for. – Patches Mar 28 '12 at 22:53
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    @Patches, no I actually don't use spellcheck because it's wrong more often than I am. I'm sorry, I really just have no faith in lexical analysis software at its current level of sophistication. – temporary_user_name Mar 28 '12 at 23:25
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    @Patches AND, on top of that, there are frequently multiple possible pronunciations which allow for an altered syllable count, allowing the writer to twist language to fit his needs. Ex. "cursed"-->'curst' vs. 'curs-ed" – temporary_user_name Mar 28 '12 at 23:35

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