TUFS Language Modules


The basic unit of rhythm in the Japanese language is the mora. Native speakers of Japanese perceive all moras as having the same duration.

It is known that an accent nucleus will not fall on a dependent mora, namely the mora obstruent (small tsu ( )), the mora nasal ( ), the second half of a long vowel, and the second half of adiphthong. If you remember this rule, but do not know where the accent nucleus of hon (book) lies, through elimination it cannot be on n. Actually, the accent nucleus of hon lies on the first mora ho. However, if you do not recognize that hon is made up of two moras, you will find it difficult to realize its accent patterns. The accent pattern of the word shinbun (しんぶん(新聞) newspapers) is shi ( Low)・n ( High)・bu ( High)・n ( High), but some learners of Japanese incorrectly perceive shinbun as two parts shin and bun, and wrongly pronounced it as shin (しん Low)・bun (ぶん High). When practicing words with dependent moras, remember to pay special attention to the number of moras and the placement of the accent nucleus of each word.

There is a tendency among learners whose native language is stress-timed, such as in English, German, Russian, and others, to pronounce the mora with a strong accent when they say words in Japanese. Remember that the mora will sound like a long vowel if you pronounce it too strong.