I sometimes see a single word having two trop marks, such as a munach followed by a zakef katan. Usually, of course, words have only one (or are joined to other words and share one, sometimes).

This answer to a question about a shalshelet says, in part:

1) Because it is the first word on the pasuk and deserved a zakef. At this distance from the etnachta, this would be a segolta. But a segolta needs a preceding zarka, and this is the first word. And so it becomes a shalshelet.

Setting aside the specific case (this is not a question about shalshelet), the well-supported answer there says that the trop it should have isn't available because it's not preceded by another. But maybe it could have been, because a word can sometimes have two trops. But maybe it can't have the right ones, or can't have them at that position in the sentence, or something else.

Hence my question: what are the rules governing when a word may, must, or must not carry more than one trop? Are only certain combinations even possible (and if so, which)?

My knowledge of trop is somewhat basic. I know how to lein it (or at least I think I do) at a basic level. I know that a pasuk is usually broken into two parts separated by a "semicolon" like an etnachta, and I know the main "trop families" (e.g. what a full etnacha or zakef katan looks like and what sometimes drops out). I know about conjunctive vs disjunctive trops; if there are gradations within those, or other categories of trop, I don't know those. I don't know much formal theory.

  • Note a trop is an accent, and even in English an iamb or trochee is generally considered more natural than a spondee.
    – Double AA
    Nov 10, 2015 at 23:39
  • 1
    In short, the times you see multiple trop on one word are (almost!) always such that all the non-final ones are conjunctive (you can't pause in the middle of a word!). Regarding the Shalshelet case, Segol as a pattern must be preceded by Zarka but Zarka is itself pausal (albeit, a weaker pause than Segol, though that isn't relevant here) so we would need a second word.
    – Double AA
    Nov 11, 2015 at 3:30
  • @DoubleAA thanks, that helps. In the cases I remember, those additional non-pausal trops could also just be dropped, in terms of the trop family. For instance, is a munach ever required? Is there some rule saying to put the extra trops on the word in some cases, or is it case-by-case and there's no overarching rule? Nov 11, 2015 at 3:35
  • Also, just to state what will be obvious (at least in retrospect): the word has to have at least three syllables, two of them with long vowels, or else there would be no way to have two emphasized syllables. But most cases of "two trops" on a word are really two symbols denoting one trop. Nov 11, 2015 at 16:05
  • @MichaBerger That's not always true, eg. he.wikisource.org/wiki/… (it's often true, I grant you)
    – Double AA
    Nov 11, 2015 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


The rules are complicated, but three of the more obvious explanations are (a) the syllable preceding the tone is open; (b) the word is compound, and/or (c) elongated words will require extra cantillation for the purposes of fuller melody.


Wickes, William (1887). Two Treatises on the Accentuation of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, passim.

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