[b-hebrew] Cantillation Mark Database

Scott Reiss sagreiss at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 27 09:45:24 EST 2007


Friends,

Thank you for your mail and links.

The names and forms of cantillation marks are, and
have always been, subject to heated debate, which is
why a statistical database would be useful.

A great amount of care has been given to such issues
as pasek/legarmeh, which does not seem to be a big
problem. The meteg/silluk problem has not yet been
satisfactorily resolved, but it concerns only half a
dozen verses in which silluk may be in median verse
position. Otherwise verse-final meteg is silluk.

Musical configuration involves other problems, for
example revia mugrash is considered two signs, geresh
and revia, but we have dealt with this problem.

We can extract cantillation data in Unicode, with only
a few fairly predictable left-to-right problems. This
is all carefully documented along with our best
solutions.

Since we make no claim to know what cantillation marks
are or might mean, we make as few assumptions about
them as possible. We take into account their form and
sequential order, but not much else.

Two hypotheses are supported, syntactic and musical,
which are wildly different, both in the interpretation
of the signs themselves (their number and identity)
and of their hierarchy, rabbinical
conjunctive/disjunctive or superlinear/sublinear.

The goal is simply to create a database of all
cantillation marks, with an application to perform
statistical analysis and pattern recognition, and then
to allow the user to adopt an informed opinion based
on the data, rather than on tradition or anecdotal
evidence.

Once we get a lead programmer interested, we will
prepare a mock-up. It might be a good project for a
graduate student.

Best Regards.

Gabriel

At 13:57 27-12-07, Yaakov Stein wrote:
Scott
 
I read with interest your email to the b-hebrew list.
 
As an expert "reader" of 40 years, a
mathematician/computer-scientist,
and someone interested in biblical hebrew and
archaeology,
I am most interested in your project.
 
Although I no longer have much time to program,
I could possibly help out in discussions.
 
Many years ago I started exploratory studies,
mostly to find special cases of the sort that Breuer
lists in tables in his book on the taamim.
I think that with the material being more easily
available
today in digital format (e.g. from
http://www.mechon-mamre.org/)
the job will be easier.
 
However, I encountered difficulties in that the
standard symbols
are not always enough to uniquely parse the meaning of
the taamim.
For example, the same sign is used for meteg/gaya and
siluk,
and the same sign is used for munah legarme and a
technical psik.
 
I don't know if you have seen the new Tikun LeKoreim
which has
recently been published, called Tikum Simanim.
In addition to the doubling of taamim with accent
problems
like the Koren edition, it has adopted different signs
for
shva nah and na, dagesh kal and dagesh hazak,
psik and legarme, etc. The decisions are based on the
masora gdola
and minhat shai.
 
Y(J)S




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