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In Torah reading, there is a rule of "Nasog Achor". The rule is as follows:

Usually, Hebrew words get the accent (and trope note) on the last syllable. However, if the word following it has its accent on the first syllable then the accent on the previous word moves backwards one syllable.

Example from Shmot 20:20:

From Mechon Mamre's Mikra Im Ta'amim page:

לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשׂ֖וּן אִתִּ֑י אֱלֹ֤הֵי כֶ֨סֶף֙ וֵֽאלֹהֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשׂ֖וּ לָכֶֽם׃

In brief, The 1st אלהי is pronounced "e LO hei" because the next word KHE- sef is accented on the 1st syllable. The 2nd אלהי is pronounced "e lo HEI" because the next word za HAV has its accent on the 2nd syllable.

My question - Is this a rule that emanates from the nature of the Hebrew language dikduk itself, such that Normal Hebrew conversation would require using this rule, or is it only because the rule applies to trope (i.e. - since the trope note is on a certain syllable, that one is accented) and the rule is used only when reading verses in Tana"ch? Would Nasig achor be used during prayers as well?

  • It's because it's hard to say a word with the accent on the last syllable followed by a word with the accent on the first syllable. Evidence: This only happens when the trop on the first word is not a pause. – Daniel Jul 11 '14 at 19:00
  • Try saying EloHEY KHEsef fast – Daniel Jul 11 '14 at 19:07
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    ...HaMotzi Lechem Min HaAretz. ykr.org.il/modules/Ask/answer/6182 – Double AA Apr 18 '16 at 2:59
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Koren Publishers, for one, is unsure whether Nasog Achor applies outside the Biblical context, particularly to prayers. Consequently, in their publications, they default to not applying Nasog Achor unless the text in question comes directly from a Biblical source where it is indicated by the cantillation.

I learned of this policy from a note I received from Efrat Gross, their Senior Hebrew Grammar Expert and Chanan Ariel, their Chief Proofreader, in response to a query I sent them about the blessing of Hamotzi. The note is reproduced, translated, and annotated in this answer post. A November 2018 Seforim Blog post by Marc B. Shapiro, entitled "Conservative Conversions, Some Grammatical Points, and a Newly Published Section of a Letter from R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik," notes some additional manifestations of this policy in Koren's publications.

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    Isaac. Thanks for this info. I will review it, soon, B"N. Interestingly enough, most siddurim apply nasog achor most notably to the 1st birkat Hatorah. E.g. "Asher BO-char banu" and "Ve-NA-tan lanu..". – DanF Jan 24 at 17:58
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    Ah yes, most people seem to say "HaMOtzi lechem", and that's a nasog achor. – DanF Jan 24 at 17:59

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