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How can I know what vowel to put stress on? For example in English we can show it in many ways e.g. exAmple

I checked Siddur Sim Shalom (Ashkenazi) and not sure if I see any marks in every word to show stress how to pronounce those words. I’m not talking about beautiful chanting of them, but just to know where to put stress in each word of for example Birkat Hamazon. I’m interested in Ashkenazi prayerbooks.

P.S. I guess the question can be extended to Chumash too. I have the Artscroll Schottenstein Chumash. It has mixture of Ashkenazi/Sefardic spelling. Same story, where to put stress in every word?

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  • In the Chief Rabbi (Lord Sacks) Green Siddur edition they have a line above the letter to stress on that vowel. Feb 19 at 21:16
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    The various Artscroll siddurim have a stress mark when the stress is not on the expected (final, often) syllable.
    – rosends
    Feb 20 at 0:02
  • Are you talking about the meteg and sheva na?
    – ezra
    Feb 20 at 1:22
  • All praise to you for trying to pronounce the words of prayer correctly. Often the pronunciation of the word is made to fit the tune rather than the meaning. Feb 20 at 18:21

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Most modern Ashkenazi siddurim indicate stress using a meteg, which is a small vertical line placed under the letter that begins the accented syllable. For example, the word v'tsivanu (from many blessings) is accented v'tsiVAnu, and that's indicated by וְצִוָּֽנוּ. When the meteg isn't present, the accent is on the last syllable. Such is the case for siddurim from Artscroll and Koren, the Authorised Daily Prayer Book (from England), the Sim Shalom siddur (at least the edition I see in images online), and Mishkan T'filah. Surely many others follow suit.

Another system is used by the siddur Rinat Yisrael: when they want to emphasise the accent, they place a mahpach over an accented syllable when it's not the last syllable, and a zarqa over the final syllable when the accent is on the last syllable. Their introduction implies that unmarked might have accent anywhere, and you just have to know.

For the chumash, the cantillation marks will almost always tell you the syllable to accent. The exceptions are telisha gedola (which is always written before the word), and telisha ketana, pashta, zarqa, and segol (which are always written after the word). In most modern chumashim (for example, the Artscroll one you have), these signs are repeated over the syllable they want you to accent (although note that these are editorial decisions — the earliest texts we have don't double these signs, so there are a few cases of disagreements as to the accented syllable). Additionally, the y'tiv appears only before the word, but since it only appears on a word that is accented on its first syllable, you can essentially ignore this exception. There are more subtleties, like secondary accents, but these rules will hold you in good stead all of Tanakh except for Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, which (mostly) have their own system of cantillation. See more on this here and here.

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Every Koren Siddur, Humash, and Tankah that I am aware of indicates the kamatz katan vs kamatz gadol and the Sheva Nach vs the Sheva Nah. They also contain introductions that discuss pronunciation markers in their texts. As far as stress goes, every Tanakh has Ta'amei HaMikrah, which indicate the part of the word to be stressed. The parts of the Siddur that come from Tanakh have the Ta'amei HaMikra. The parts of the Siddur that are not from Tanakh don't contain stress markers. However, you can simply learn the rules of stress from any Hebrew grammar book and apply them to those sections. The rules are not difficult to learn and apply.

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