[b-hebrew] Meteg and Shva Na/Nah

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Dec 3 00:13:03 EST 2008

On Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 10:55 PM, Rivka Sherman-Gold wrote:
> There seems to be a controversy over the use of a meteg in Masoretic
> manuscripts. I know this is a complicated topic and not all about it is
> clear and agreed by all. My specific question is related to a meteg under a
> letter that is followed by a letter that has a Shva. What is the prevailing
> view - that the Masoretes intended to use this meteg to indicate that the
> following Shva is a Shva Na OR that that Masoretes did not intend to
> indicate anything about the following Shva (even though in most cases this
> happens to be a Shva Na)? Or are there other views?

The meteg, better known as a ga(ya, has nothing directly to do with the
following schwa.  It generally marks secondary stress on syllables that
are not otherwise marked by a conjunctive accent.  Secondary stress
may be marked either by a conjunctive accent, a ga(ya, or not marked
at all.  In any case, secondary stress is part of the word's pronunciation
and should always be pronounced whether or not it is marked.  A long
vowel separated from the main vowel by a schewa takes secondary
stress and hence may be marked by a ga(ya.  However, the schewa in
such cases is quiescent.  For example: [vay-,yo:m-'ru:] -- more accurately
pronounced [vay-,yo-om-'ru-u].  It is the breaking up of the syllables ([yo:m]
into [yo-om]) -- part of the cantillation process -- which allows [yo] to carry
the secondary stress.  Ga(yot come of two types -- those on open syllables,
"major ga(yot", and those on closed syllables, "minor ga(yot."  There was
more consistency and agreement between the Masoretes about the
marking of minor ga(yot.

Yitzhak Sapir

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