Towards the development of an intonation-based prosodic model for the masoretic cantillation accents of Tiberian Hebrew
Pitcher, Sophia Lynn
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The system of vocalisation encoded in the ṭaʿămê hammiqrāʾ represents one of the most prominent expressions of the oral nature of the Hebrew Bible, yet the value of investigating extant cantillation traditions has been largely dismissed in nonliturgical scholarship. Dresher (1994) gives the first linguistic account of the ṭaʿămê hammiqrāʾ as a prosodic system within a modern prosodic framework, but like Wickes (1887), Dotan (1978), Yeivin (1980), Aronoff (1985), Janis (1987), and Price (2010), he treats pausal phenomena, rather than intonation, as their central organising feature. In this dissertation I analyse an extant Ashkenazi cantillation tradition of the ṭaʿămê hammiqrāʾ using modern prosodic theory and the musical concept of conjunct and disjunct melodic motion to demonstrate that the ṭǝʿāmîm have a highly structured intonational basis that organises the system and conforms substantially to cross-linguistic prosodic norms. The intonation-based prosodic model for Tiberian Hebrew I propose in this study offers a solution to the limitation Dresher (1994) encounters with the intonational phrase domain of his prosodic model. I investigate the prosodic nature of the ṭaʿămê hammiqrāʾ in the following steps: 1) describe, classify, and catalogue the types of melodic patterns and intervals that conjunctive and disjunctive ṭǝʿāmîm are able to form; 2) determine the organisational prosodic structure of the ṭaʿămê hammiqrāʾ and compare it to the cross-linguistic prosodic model developed by Selkirk (2009, 2011); 3) test how well this intonation-based model for Tiberian Hebrew identifies and locates cross-linguistic prosodic structures for restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clauses. The biblical corpus used to test this model is comprised of all the overtly headed ʾǎšer relative clauses in the twenty-one books of the Hebrew Bible, of which representative examples are presented and discussed in detail. My analysis indicates that Tiberian Hebrew distinguishes three prosodic classes of relatives, a finding that accords with and refines cross-linguistic prosodic norms for these syntactic constructions and largely corroborates Holmstedt’s (2016) analysis of the restrictive semantics of relative clauses in the Hebrew Bible. A catalogue for this corpus of relative clauses is compiled in Appendix B.