Thursday, December 25, 2008

What on earth is a "taghmical"?

Some time ago I came across a work on the trop from 1698 called The Taghmical Art ; or, the Art of Expounding Scripture by the points usually called Accents, but are really Tactical : a Grammatical, Logical, and Rhetorical instrument of interpretations by Walter Cross.

And it looks like this:

and includes gems like this:

Here's a fun table:

A reviewer from 1824 had this to say:

CROSS WALTER an English dissenting mini ster who died in 1701 The Taghmical Art or the Art of expounding Scripture by the Points usually called accents Lond 1698 8vo This curious book is written with great abundance of confidence and vast lack of intelligence In various respects it resembles Boston

It seems this book fascinated and confused quite a lot of people who only wanted to learn about how the Jews cantillate their Bible!

For a long time I wondered what the heck he meant by "taghmical." It seemed to be a neologism, a word coined by himself. From context I understood that it related to the biblical accents. Did it mean "pertaining to the taggin"? That made no sense, but that doesn't always stop everyone.

Then I had a brainstorm: the Oxford English Dictionary.

And they came through:

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Taghmical is from טעמים, with Cross taking the liberty of wackily transcribing the ע as gh. Clever.

(Other clever English words of that era: mecubalist and alcoran. But I bet you can tell what these mean)

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