Secondary Stress and Vowel Lengthening in Biblical Aramaic

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Emmanuel Aïm



This study is concerned with the placement of the secondary stress in Tiberian Biblical Aramaic. The challenging aspect of this placement is that, contrary to universal typology, both long-voweled CVVC, CVV and short-voweled CV syllables are stressed whereas short-voweled CVC syllables are not. This apparently abnormal distribution is rationalized by arguing that CV syllables became CVV due to a secondary lengthening of the short vowel. I claim that this lengthening is a late development and likely corresponds to the late orthographical practice of regularly marking the secondary stress on open syllables. A similar lengthening in Eastern Syriac offers support for this interpretation. Finally, the common origin of Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic secondary stresses is briefly discussed.

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