Il mito dell’isocronia moraica in giapponese: un’analisi quantitativa basata su corpora orali

  • Giuseppe Pappalardo University of Venice "Ca' Foscari"
Keywords: Japanese language, mora, syllable, pitch accent, moraic isochrony, Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese, compensation effect


Pike (1945) classified the world languages into two types of rhythmic/prosodic patterns: stress-timed and syllable-timed. According to this classification, stress-timed languages, like English and German, tend to have isochronous interstress intervals, while syllable-timed languages, like Italian and Spanish, tend to have equal syllable duration. Ladefoged (1975) added the mora-timed type, in which isochrony is maintained at the level of the mora, a sub-syllabic constituent that includes either onset and nucleus, or a coda. Japanese is often referred to as a mora-timed language (Otake 2015): the mora is the psychological prosodic unit in spoken language, and the metric unit of traditional poetry (Bloch 1950). The syllabaries, in which each grapheme corresponds to a mora, make this prosodic segmentation clear. However, previous experimental studies have claimed that the mora is not a perfect isochronous unit (Warner and Arai 2001).

The aim of this paper is to present the rhythm-prosodic system of the Japanese language giving a precise description of its prosodic units -- the mora and the syllable--, and to provide empirical quantitative data on the duration of mora in spontaneous Japanese. The dataset used in the present study is a portion of the Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese called Core, consisting of about 45 hours of extensively annotated speech. The variation of the average duration of the mora has been analysed on the basis of linguistic parameters, such as the typology of mora and the phonotactic structure of the word in which it is included, and of extra-linguistic parameters, such as the typology of speech.


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Author Biography

Giuseppe Pappalardo, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari"
Giuseppe Pappalardo holds a PhD in Asian Studies form the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and is currently a fixed-term researcher at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, where he teaches Japanese Language and History of the Japanese Language. He is also member of the council and treasurer of the Italian Association for Japanese Language Teaching. He spent several research periods in Japan where he specialized in phonetics and phonology of Japanese standard language and Japanese dialects. His research interests include the historical linguistics (phonology and syntax) and the teaching of Japanese prosody and pronunciation. Giuseppe can be reached at:


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