Mora (linguistics)

A mora (plural morae or moras; often symbolized μ) is a unit in phonology that determines syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress or timing. The definition of a mora varies. In 1968, American linguist James D. McCawley defined it as "something of which a long syllable consists of two and a short syllable consists of one". The term comes from the Latin word for "linger, delay", which was also used to translate the Greek word chronos (time) in its metrical sense.

Monomoraic syllables have one mora, bimoraic syllables have two, and trimoraic syllables have three, although this last type is relatively rare.

Formation

In general, morae are formed as follows:

  1. A syllable onset (the first consonant or consonants of the syllable) does not represent any mora.
  2. The syllable nucleus represents one mora in the case of a short vowel, and two morae in the case of a long vowel or diphthong. Consonants serving as syllable nuclei also represent one mora if short and two if long. ( Slovak is an example of a language that has both long and short consonantal nuclei.)
  3. In some languages (for example, Latin and Japanese), the coda represents one mora, and in others (for example, Irish) it does not. In 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).
  4. 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).

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 and present-day English, can have syllables with up to 4 morae. [1]

A prosodic stress system in which moraically heavy syllables are assigned stress is said to have the property of quantity sensitivity. [2]

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Mora
Чӑвашла: Мора
Esperanto: Morao
estremeñu: Mora
Հայերեն: Ամանակ
Nederlands: Mora (taalkunde)
日本語: モーラ
norsk nynorsk: Mora
română: Moră
русский: Мора
Basa Sunda: Mora (linguistik)
Türkçe: Bürünbirimcik
中文: 音拍