Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar

By Robert Ray Ellis | Go to book overview

Lesson 3
ACCENTING, SYLLABLES, SIMPLE SHEVA,
QAMES HATUF, TRANSLITERATION

3A ACCENTING

1. Major accent for a word
a. The Masoretes developed a highly specialized system of accenting for sentences in the Hebrew Bible. At this point the student needs only to be concerned with the primary accenting of individual words. The syllable which receives the major accent in a word is called the tone (or tonic) syllable; it is stressed in reading. When it is necessary to mark the tone syllable, this Grammar uses the symbol in Hebrew script to indicate the accent. In transliteration the symbol denotes an accented syllable.
b. Most words receive their major accent on the last syllable.1 When the last syllable is accented, typically no special mark appears in this Grammar to indicate that fact, although such a mark may occasionally appear for the purpose of clarity or illustration.

(“man”) has two syllables. The first is (ʾā) and the second is (ḏām). Since no accent mark appears with the word, one can assume that the second (or last) syllable is accented. If the accent mark were shown, it would appear as .

c. Some words receive their major accent on the next to last, or penultimate, syllable.2 When this is the case the accented syllable is marked. The major accent in a word never comes before the penultimate syllable.

(“gate”) has two syllables, which are (ša) and (ʿar). The first, or penultimate, syllable is accented as the symbol indicates.

1 The Hebrew term for an accent on the last syllable is milra.

2 The Hebrew term for an accent on the penultimate syllable is milel.

-21-

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