[b-hebrew] metheg, stress

Vincent DeCaen decaen at origin.chass.utoronto.ca
Mon Aug 6 09:28:28 EDT 2007

dear raoul,

i would also suggest august is prime summer holiday season: i suspect a 
lot of regulars are away.

* * *

metheg is usually called ga`ya by the specialists.

try the english translation of israel yeivin's book, introduction to the 
tiberian masorah (1980), esp. ##311ff. on ga`ya.

if you surf the internet, look for a CV for geoffrey khan, who might 've 
written on the topic. also look for programmes for the international 
organization for masoretic studies: it might appear as in conference 

* * *

i would say that it is definitely not stress, and definitely not about 
open syllables. it is primarily musical, varying by the nature of the 
syllable, the accent it is associated with, how many syllables before the 
stress, etc. in the lingo, it is IMHO a text-to-tune interface phenomenon. 
this seems esp. clear in the poetic books, with the poetic accent system.

i have been meditating on job 3. i draw your attention to a few examples.

(1) YFNW.^XA^ LIY^ 3:13, marking a furtive pathah: there are two major 
classes of post-tonic syllables marked by so-called metheg-ultima, one of 
which is the sequence pathah+guttural (i'd love to know what exactly is 
going on here with the pharyngeals).

(2) Y:^HIY^ XO^$EK: 3:4, two unstressed syllables marked for the sake of 
the trope: ordinarily, maqqef would appear in such "stress clashes"; but 
the accent/trope has its own demands here. (just how would you stress the 

(3) )OR:R"Y-YOW^M 3:8, the long syllable )O does bear a secondary stress, 
in my opinion, but for reasons of the athnach-trope rules, a maqqef is 
here: the reverse situation.

(4) HA^M:MAL:)IY^M 3:15, i would argue that HAM is a closed syllable; here 
the demands of accent tarcha are at work. see further HA^M:XAK.IY^M 3:21. 
these are generally associated with loss of gemination, contrast 
HA&.:M"XIY^M 3:22 without metheg.

(5) W:^LO)-NFX:T.IY^ 3:26, shwa on we- is function of revia (notice here, 
crucially without geresh, when virtual athnach).



Dr Vincent DeCaen
DeCaen and Associates Research and Communications
135 Bleecker Street, Suite 307
Toronto ON, M4X 1X2
vince at decaen.ca

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