Reading the Pausal Forms Together with the Accents in the Masoretic Text
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This work is embargoed until 6/1/2025.
Contrary to E. J. Revell’s diachronic view that the pausal forms and accents in the Masoretic Text reflect two different reading traditions, this dissertation contends that reading the pausal forms and accents together is preferable. Chapter 1 introduces the thesis and methodology, and chapters 2 and 3 primarily focus on the question of why the two systems should be read together. Chapter 4 then demonstrates how to read the two systems together.Chapter 2 details three observations from research history that support the synchronic view. First, the synchronic view is deeply rooted in the Masoretic tradition and practically significant for correctly reenacting the vowels. Second, the diachronic view is implausible because of its simplistic and mistaken assumptions, which originate from historical criticism. Third, the most recent studies focusing on the distinct natures of the pausal forms and the accent system shed new light on the synchronic view. Chapter 3 further argues for the synchronic view from four positions. First, a general description based on the statistics of the different grammatical patterns reveals the intentionality and grammatical regularity of the alignment and misalignment between the two systems. Second, the prosodic nature of the accent system that resembles the ancient punctuation system justifies the synchronic view because the inscribed accent system is an inseparable linguistic component of the text. Third, examining the vowel change of the bi-consonantal words reveals how the accent prosodically influences the vowel change in many cases and how the accent does not influence the vowel when the morphology determines the vowel. Fourth, the grammaticalization of the pausal system makes it diverse and even defective so that it is partly dependent and partly independent of the accent system. Chapter 4 demonstrates how the pausal forms cooperate with the accents in a unifying reading. On the one hand, the pausal form and the accent create a pausal synergy. On the other hand, the tension between the contextual/pausal form and the accent is a communicative device that signals the pause on one level but the non-pause on the other. This chapter also distinguishes the primary syntactical usages and the secondary usages of the pausal form. The pausal forms with the non-D0 accents mostly in direct speech reflect their authentic usage in actual speech. Chapter 5 concludes and summarizes the study with implications and possible avenues for future studies.