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Journal Article

The role of the mora in the timing of spontaneous Japanese speech


Warner ,  Natasha
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ;
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Warner, N., & Arai, T. (2001). The role of the mora in the timing of spontaneous Japanese speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 109, 1144-1156. doi:10.1121/1.1344156.

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This study investigates whether the mora is used in controlling timing in Japanese speech, or is instead a structural unit in the language not involved in timing. Unlike most previous studies of mora-timing in Japanese, this article investigates timing in spontaneous speech. Predictability of word duration from number of moras is found to be much weaker than in careful speech. Furthermore, the number of moras predicts word duration only slightly better than number of segments. Syllable structure also has a significant effect on word duration. Finally, comparison of the predictability of whole words and arbitrarily truncated words shows better predictability for truncated words, which would not be possible if the truncated portion were compensating for remaining moras. The results support an accumulative model of variance with a final lengthening effect, and do not indicate the presence of any compensation related to mora-timing. It is suggested that the rhythm of Japanese derives from several factors about the structure of the language, not from durational compensation.