trop

Alternative Spellings

trope

Definitions

  • Series of traditional chanting/melodic patterns used in reading the Torah and other books of the Tanakh in communal prayer services.
  • Diacritic-like marks in printed editions of the Tanakh (and the tikkun, a book that enables people to learn to chant from the Torah, haftarah, etc.) that indicate the chanting/melodic pattern to be used with each word.

Example Sentences

  • "However, unfortunately, in many, many cases, bar mitzvah boys don’t lain loud enough, don’t pronounce the words clearly, swallow parts of words, or are unfamiliar with the basic laws of dikduk and trop." (http://matzav.com/the-matzav-rant-to-lain-or-not-to-lain)
  • "When we read Torah in the synagogue, we are not simply commanded to recite it, rather to sing it with special chanting motifs called tropes (musical symbols) of cantillation." (http://www.templesholom.com/worship-with-us/prayers-a-trope/trope-for-torah-and-haftarah).

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish

Etymology

Yiddish טראָפּ trop, also occurs in Rashi and other Hebrew rabbinic texts. See Notes re: debate about etymology.

Who Uses This

Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).
JPS: The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)

Notes

Generally used as a mass noun ("Do you know the trope?") but sometimes used (incorrectly) as a count noun ("Have you learned all the tropes yet?"). The correlate Hebrew word "ta'amim" or "ta'amei hamikra" may sometimes be used in place of "trop." The melodic patterns of the trop for the Torah vary among communities of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and other origins, and also differ on the High Holidays from Shabbat and weekdays. There are also different trops for various "megillot" or "scrolls," biblical books not in the Torah which are chanted during various holy days and fast days. Although scholars agree that it ultimately comes from Greek tropos 'turn,' there is some debate about how it made its way into Yiddish. Paul Wexler (2006:421) suggests it entered Yiddish from Judeo-Greek, perhaps via Judeo-Slavic, and Max Weinreich (2008:418) argues for a Judeo-Italian origin. Steinmetz (Dictionary of Jewish Usage) suggests it is from Middle High German tropes 'melodic embellishments in Gregorian music.' Because it appears in Rashi and other Hebrew rabbinic texts, we might consider textual in addition to substratal influence.

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