I’m sure you know about poetic meter. It may be Shakespeare that you think of first—although for me, it’s always been Descartes: I think, therefore iamb.
Okay, perhaps I peaked too soon. Perhaps you think, “if that’s a peak—then Facebook, here I come”. So let me get my feet out of my mouth and take another shot.
Iamb, trochee, spondee, dactyl, and the rest. Someone mad or stupid must have coined these names. Every time, I have look them up. Thank the Lord for Google, I suppose. Phyrric. Really? That's a meter?
Never mind the major nightmares shown on our TVs. We can fix this mess, at least. Let's have every name reflect its pattern. Trochee is the poster child for this. TRO-chee, TRO-chee, TRO-chee. Say it, and you know just what it means. Yes...but take a look at dactyl.
What do you hear when somebody says "dactyl"? It's only two beats, but the meter has three. And the fix is so obvious. Just switch the names! Take the name amphibrach (AM-phi-brach, AM-phi-brach). Steal it for dactyl and call it a day, because nobody talks about amphibrach anyway.
But you can’t fix them all in this way, sad to say. Because none of the names—the names we were taught—the terrible, meaningless names we were taught—have three beats and then ends with the stress on the last. You could say an-a-PEST if you want--go ahead! But you’ll sound like a rube.
It doesn't matter. No one writes in meter anymore, anyway.