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Variation in moraicity in Japanese text-setting

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Text-setting, the pairing of language and music, is largely determined by a language’s most salient prosodic units (Yung 1991; Halle and Lerdahl 1993; Hayes 2009; a.o.). Japanese, which exhibits a dominantly moraic prosodic structure, is predicted to have a mora-based text-setting system (Hayes and Swiger 2008). The present study of translated Disney songs and native anime songs finds that, while mora-based text-setting is the default in Japanese, non-moraic variants are common, particularly in loan words and translation contexts. The results offer evidence towards the hypothesis that the differences in moraicity in Japanese partially stem from phonological differences present across Japanese lexical strata (Itô and Mester 1995).

This talk is part of the King's Occasional Lectures series.

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