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Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus (SPiL Plus)

On-line version ISSN 2224-3380
Print version ISSN 1726-541X

Abstract

PITCHER, Sophia L.. Towards a prosodic model for Tiberian Hebrew: An intonation-based analysis. SPiL plus (Online) [online]. 2022, vol.63, pp.1-27. ISSN 2224-3380.  http://dx.doi.org/10.5842/63-0-934.

This study advances a preliminary framework for conceptualising the prosodie nature and structure of Tiberian Hebrew (TH) represented by the taʿămê hammiqrāʾ through an analysis of an extant Ashkenazi cantillation tradition. The taʿămê hammiqrāʾ (lit. "the senses of the reading [viz. Scripture]") are notations added by medieval scribes to the written text of the Hebrew Bible to preserve and transmit its oral performance. Modern prosodic theory and the musical concept of conjunct and disjunct melodic motion are used to demonstrate that the taʿămê hammiqrāʾ have a highly structured iconic and intonational basis that organises the system and conforms substantially to Selkirk's (2000, 2009) cross-linguistic prosodic hierarchy. The intonation-based prosodic model proposed in this study offers a solution to the limitation Dresher (1994, 2013; see also Dresher and DeCaen 2018; DeCaen and Dresher 2020) encounters with the intonational phrase domain of his prosodic model, permitting an alternative analysis of so-called pausal forms as lengthened forms, which can occur at prosodic phrase boundaries regardless of pause. The intonation-based model is tested by assessing how accurately it reflects the cross-linguistic prosodic features of restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clauses. The results indicate that TH distinguishes three prosodic classes of relatives -prosodically marked restrictives, prosodically marked nonrestrictives, and prosodically undifferentiated relatives - findings that accord with Birkner's (2012) intonation-based study of the prosodic structure of German relative clauses.

Keywords : Masoretic cantillation accents; Tiberian Hebrew; cross-linguistic prosodic hierarchy; prosodic phonology; syntax-phonology interface; relative clauses.

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