I wrote to a very well respected and knowledgeable Rav regarding grammatical functions of the te'amim and the discrepancies that exist between the Sephardic and Ashkenazic systems. His response surprised me. He said the following:
"For better or worse, it was a non-Jew who first discovered the principles governing the ta'ame ha-miqra. His name was William Wickes. Here is a link to his book:
Since Wickes wrote his book in the 19th century, there has been some progress in the field. The best recent, comprehensive book on the subject is by Mordechai Breuer in Hebrew: טעמי המקרא. The second edition of this book is still in print.
Since Wickes is in English, you might find it easier to deal with. The amount of additional material in Breuer is small."
As someone who often has an academic approach to Judaism, the answer isn't problematic for me. But I was still surprised by it. Can anyone shed light on whether Jews were really ignorant of the principles governing the te'amim until Wickes?