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A mora (plural ''morae'' or ''moras''; often symbolized μ) is a unit in
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...

phonology
that describes
syllable weight In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages ...
, which in some languages determines stress or
timing Timing is the time when something happens or the spacing of events in time. "Timing" also means the tracking of time when an event is happening in time. Good timing is having waited for the right moment to match parts that belong together. Timing m ...
. A mora is a sound which comes after a short pause in a syllable . The term comes from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
word for "linger, delay", which was also used to translate the Greek word χρόνος : ''chrónos'' (time) in its metrical sense. Monomoraic
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
s have one mora, bimoraic syllables have two, and trimoraic syllables have three, although the last is relatively rare.


Formation

In general, morae are formed as follows: # A
syllable onset A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...
(the first
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
or consonants of the syllable) does not represent any mora. # The
syllable nucleus A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...
represents one mora in the case of a short vowel, and two morae in the case of a long vowel or
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
. Consonants serving as syllable nuclei also represent one mora if short and two if long.
Slovak Slovak may refer to: * Something from, related to, or belonging to Slovakia (''Slovenská republika'') * Slovaks, a Western Slavic ethnic group * Slovak language, an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages * Slovak, Arkans ...
is an example of a language that has both long and short consonantal nuclei. # In some languages (for example,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
and
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
), the
coda Coda or CODA may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Coda'' (1987 film), an Australian horror film about a serial killer, made for television * ''Coda'' (2019 film), a Canadian drama film starring Patrick Stewart, Katie Holmes, a ...
represents one mora, and in others (for example,
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
) it does not. In
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, the codas of stressed syllables represent a mora (thus, the word ''cat'' is bimoraic), but for unstressed syllables it is not clear whether this is true (the second syllable of the word ''rabbit'' might be monomoraic). # In some languages, a syllable with a long vowel or diphthong in the nucleus and one or more consonants in the coda is said to be trimoraic (see
pluti Vedic Sanskrit was an ancient language of the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. It is attested in the Vedas and related literature compiled over the period of the mid-2nd mill ...

pluti
). In general, monomoraic syllables are called "light syllables", bimoraic syllables are called "heavy syllables", and trimoraic syllables (in languages that have them) are called "superheavy syllables". Some languages, such as
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
and present-day English, can have syllables with up to four morae. A
prosodic In linguistics, prosody () is concerned with those elements of speech that are not individual phonetic segment (linguistics), segments (vowels and consonants) but are properties of syllables and larger units of speech, including linguistic functio ...
stress system in which moraically heavy syllables are assigned stress is said to have the property of quantity sensitivity.


Languages


Ancient Greek

For the purpose of determining accent in
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
, short vowels have one mora, and long vowels and diphthongs have two morae. Thus long ''ē'' (
eta Eta (uppercase , lowercase ; grc, ἦτα ''ē̂ta'' or ell, ήτα ''ita'' ) is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is ...

eta
: ) can be understood as a sequence of two short vowels: ''ee''. Ancient Greek pitch accent is placed on only one mora in a word. An
acute Acute may refer to: Science and technology * Acute angle ** Acute triangle ** Acute, a leaf shape in the glossary of leaf morphology#acute, glossary of leaf morphology * Acute (medicine), a disease that it is of short duration and of recent onset. ...

acute
(, ) represents high pitch on the only mora of a short vowel or the last mora of a long vowel (''é'', ''eé''). A
circumflex The circumflex is a diacritic in the Latin script, Latin and Greek alphabet, Greek scripts that is used in the written forms of many languages and in various romanization and Transcription (linguistics), transcription schemes. It received its E ...
() represents high pitch on the first mora of a long vowel (''ée'').


English

In Old English, short diphthongs and monophthongs were monomoraic, long diphthongs and monophthongs were bimoraic, consonants ending in a syllable were each a mora, and
geminate In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of eve ...

geminate
consonants added a mora to the preceding syllable. In Modern English, the rules are similar, except that all diphthongs are bimoraic. In English, and probably also in Old English, syllables cannot have more than four morae, with loss of sounds occurring if a syllable would have more than 4 otherwise. From the Old English period through to today, all
content word Content words, in linguistics, are words that possess semantic content and contribute to the meaning of the sentence in which they occur. In a traditional approach, nouns were said to name objects and other entities, lexical verb, lexical verbs to i ...
s must be at least two morae long.


Gilbertese

Gilbertese Gilbertese or taetae ni Kiribati, also Kiribati (sometimes ''Kiribatese''), is an Austronesian language The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includi ...
, an Austronesian language spoken mainly in
Kiribati Kiribati (), officially the Republic of Kiribati (Gilbertese language, Gilbertese: '' ibaberikiKiribati''),
, is a trimoraic language. The typical
foot The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemis ...
in Gilbertese contains three morae. These trimoraic constituents are units of stress in Gilbertese. These "ternary metrical constituents of the sort found in Gilbertese are quite rare cross-linguistically, and as far as we know, Gilbertese is the only language in the world reported to have a ternary constraint on prosodic word size."


Hawaiian

In
Hawaiian Hawaiian may refer to: * Hawaii state residents, regardless of ancestry * Native Hawaiians, the current term for the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants * Hawaiian language Historic uses * things and people of the Kingdo ...
, both syllables and morae are important. Stress falls on the penultimate mora, though in words long enough to have two stresses, only the final stress is predictable. However, although a
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
, such as ''oi,'' consists of two morae, stress may fall only on the first, a restriction not found with other vowel sequences such as ''io.'' That is, there is a distinction between ''oi,'' a bimoraic syllable, and ''io,'' which is two syllables.


Japanese

Most dialects of
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
, including the standard, use morae, known in Japanese as ''haku'' () or ''mōra'' (), rather than syllables, as the basis of the sound system. Writing Japanese in
kana The term may refer to a number of syllabaries In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. ...

kana
(
hiragana is a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

hiragana
and
katakana is a Japanese , one component of the along with , and in some cases the (known as ). The word ''katakana'' means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hi ...
) is said by those scholars who use the term ''mora'' to demonstrate a moraic system of writing. For example, in the two-syllable word ''mōra'', the ''ō'' is a long vowel and counts as two morae. The word is written in three symbols, , corresponding here to ''mo-o-ra'', each containing one mora. Therefore, scholars argue that the 5/7/5 pattern of the ''
haiku is a type of short form poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbol ...

haiku
'' in modern Japanese is of morae rather than syllables. The Japanese syllable-final ''n'' is also said to be moraic, as is the first part of a geminate consonant. For example, the Japanese name for "
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
", , has two different pronunciations, one with three morae (''Nihon'') and one with four (''Nippon''). In the hiragana spelling, the three morae of ''Ni-ho-n'' are represented by three characters (), and the four morae of ''Ni-p-po-n'' need four characters to be written out as . Similarly, the names ''
Tōkyō Tokyo (Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

Tōkyō
'' (''To-u-kyo-u'', ), ''
Ōsaka is a Cities designated by government ordinance of Japan, designated city in the Kansai region of Honshu in Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and as of 1 January 2012, has an estimated population of 2,668,586. Osaka is also the lar ...

Ōsaka
'' (''O-o-sa-ka'', ), and ''
Nagasaki is the capital and the largest city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. ...

Nagasaki
'' (''Na-ga-sa-ki'', ) all have four morae, even though, on this analysis, they can be said to have two, three and four syllables, respectively. The number of morae in a word is not always equal to the number of
grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...

grapheme
s when written in kana; for example, even though it has four morae, the Japanese name for ''Tōkyō'' () is written with five graphemes, because one of these graphemes () represents a ''
yōon The , also written as ''yōon'', is a feature of the Japanese language in which a mora is formed with an added sound, i.e., palatalized. ''Yōon'' are represented in hiragana using a kana ending in ''i'', such as き (''ki''), plus a smaller v ...
'', a feature of the Japanese writing system that indicates that the preceding consonant is palatalized. The "Contracted sound" (拗音) is represented by the three small kana for "ya" (ゃ), "yu" (ゅ), "yo" (ょ), these do not represent a mora by themselves and attach to other kana, all the rest of the graphemes represent a ''mōra'' in their own''.'' There is a unique set of ''mōra'' known as "special mora" (特殊拍) which can't be pronounced by itself but still count as one mora whenever present, these consist of "nasal sound" (撥音) represented by the kana for "n" (ん), the "geminate consonant" (促音) represented by the small tsu(っ), the "long sound" (長音) represented by the long vowel symbol (ー) or a single vowel which extends the sound of the previous ''mōra'' (びょ「う」いん) and the "diphthong" (二重母音) represented by the second vowel of two consecutive vowels (ばあ「い」). This set also has the peculiarity that the drop in pitch of a word (so called "downstep") can not fall on any of these "special mora" under any conditions, this is especially useful for learners of the language trying to learn the accent of words. The above rule doesn't apply to ん (the nasal N) which for the Japanese doesn't qualify as special and the drop in pitch can fall on ん, for example in the word 日本 (にほん/nihon), where に starts low, the pitch raises and peaks at ほ, then drops at ん and continues low through the following particle if it's present.


Luganda

In
Luganda The Ganda language or Luganda (, , ) is a Bantu language spoken in the African Great Lakes region. It is one of the major languages in Uganda and is spoken by more than 10 million Ganda people, Baganda and other people principally in central Uga ...
, a
short vowel In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
constitutes one mora while a
long vowel In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
constitutes two morae. A simple
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
has no morae, and a
doubled
doubled
or
prenasalised consonant Prenasalized consonants are phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling ...
has one. No
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
may contain more than three morae. The tone system in Luganda is based on morae. See Luganda tones and Luganda grammar.


Sanskrit

In
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
, the mora is expressed as the ''mātrā''. For example, the short vowel ''a'' (pronounced like a
schwa In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as t ...
) is assigned a value of one ''mātrā'', the long vowel ''ā'' is assigned a value of two ''mātrā''s, and the compound vowel (diphthong) ''ai'' (which has either two simple short vowels, ''a''+''i'', or one long and one short vowel, ''ā''+''i'') is assigned a value of two ''mātrā''s. In addition, there is ''plutham'' (trimoraic) and ''dīrgha plutham'' ("long ''plutham''" = quadrimoraic). Sanskrit prosody and metrics have a deep history of taking into account moraic weight, as it were, rather than straight syllables, divided into ''laghu'' (, "light") and ''dīrgha''/''guru'' (/, "heavy") feet based on how many morae can be isolated in each word. Thus, for example, the word ''kartṛ'' (), meaning "agent" or "doer", does not contain simply two syllabic units, but contains rather, in order, a ''dīrgha''/''guru''
foot The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemis ...
and a ''laghu'' foot. The reason is that the conjoined
consonants In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...

consonants
''rt'' render the normally light ''ka''
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
heavy.


See also

*
Chroneme In linguistics, a chroneme is a basic, theoretical unit of sound that can distinguish words by duration only of a vowel or consonant. The noun ''chroneme'' is derived from Greek χρόνος (chrónos, ''time''), and the suffixed ''-eme'', which ...
*
Compensatory lengthening Compensatory lengthening in phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular la ...
* Dreimorengesetz *
On (Japanese prosody) ''On'' (音; rarely ''onji'') are the phonetic units in Japanese language, Japanese poetry. In the Japanese language, the word means "sound". It includes the phonetic units counted in haiku, tanka, and waka (poetry), other such poetic forms. Known ...
*
Pitch accent A pitch-accent language is a language that has word accents in which one syllable in a word or morpheme is more prominent than the others, but the accentuated syllable is indicated by a contrasting pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency ...
*
Syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

Syllable


Notes


References

* * *
LCCN


External links

* {{Authority control Phonology Psycholinguistics