Estonian word prosody on the Procrustean bed of morae

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The paper analyses existing moraic conceptions of Estonian quantity. Main features of functional, generative and phonetically-instructed moraic accounts of Estonian are considered. In most generative accounts, morae simultaneously represent several layers of functionally and structurally diverse information. This brings along a considerable increase in formal analytical machinery and internal controversies. In a structural functional framework, morae can be used to formalise the prosodic contrast of long and short stressed syllables in Estonian. Its relevance is seen in actual functioning of the prosodic system. This contrast is built upon the segmental contrast of short and long phonemes and, in turn, serves as a basis for the contrast of two distinctive foot accents, light and heavy. As an example, a formal morphonological algorithm of calculating Estonian foot accents, which also shows the place of the syllable weight contrast, is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-244
Number of pages36
JournalEesti ja Soome-Ugri Keeleteaduse Ajakiri
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Estonian
  • mora
  • phonology
  • quantity
  • theoretical linguistics
  • word prosody


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