Stress in written Hebrew?

Henry Churchyard churchyh at
Sun Sep 19 12:45:18 EDT 1999

> Subject: Re: Stress in written Hebrew (DSS)?
> From: Ian Hutchesson <mc2499 at>
> Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 23:26:33 +0200

>> Well, the masoretic accentual system, when properly interpreted,
>> reveals a normal pattern of phrase-final prosodic prominence in the
>> masoretic recitation pronunciation, at a number of hierarchical
>> levels (see chapter 3 of my dissertation, or Wickes 1887 for that
>> matter) -- but this may or may not be particularly relevant for
>> Qumran.

> Still, it's interesting. How does such a phrase final prominence
> work with the natural stresses in the individual words?

They don't strongly "interact" as such; one set of rules governs
positioning of main stress within each word, and another set of rules
governs the assignment of phrasal-level prosodic prominence among the
words in a phonological phrase (but only acts at the level of whole
words, and does not determine the location of stress _within_ a word).
However, there is one interaction, namely that stress-shifts are
prohibited in words assigned phrasal prosodic prominence (as discussed
extensively in my dissertation).  Here's a phonological "grid"
representation of a phrase in Jeremiah 5:5 which should be somewhat
intuitive (the higher the column of "x"'s the stronger the prosodic
prominence); linguistically, these levels are basically built up in
simple "layer-cake" fashion (higher levels assigned to representations
which already contain all lower levels), except for secondary stress.

 Phrasal Prominence                           x
  Main Word-Stress                   x        x
  Secondary Stress      x            x        x
 Unreduced Syllable     x     x      x    x   x
       Syllable         x  x  x   x  x    x   x
                     [ wa.'a.dab.b at .raa  'oo.taam ]

Henry Churchyard   churchyh at

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