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Mora (linguistics)

A unit of sound used in phonology that determines stress in some languages. Like many technical linguistics terms, the exact definition of mora (plura moras or morae) is debated. The term, meaning "delay," comes from Latin.

In general, moras are formed as follows:

  1. The first consonant of a syllable (the onset) plus the following vowel (the nucleus) represents one mora.
  2. The final consonant of a syllable (the coda) also represents one mora.
  3. Long vowels count as two moras.

Thus, in the word "cat," the first two sounds /ka/ make one mora and the last sound /t/ make another mora. So "cat" is a bimoraic word.

Japanese is a language famous for its moraic qualities. Most dialects including the standard use moras as the basis of the sound system rather than syllables.