A syllable consists of three parts: The onset, the nucleus (which is usually a vowel), and the coda. The onset and the coda are optional, or may come in consonant clusters, but for the purpose of this question, let me assume the syllable has structure of CVC.

Since the onset immediately releases to the vowel, in duration it contributes the least. But what about the vowel and the coda?

Take Japanese for example. It has ッ and ン as the codas. They form their own single mora. As a consequence, the durations of the vowel and the coda are roughly equal.

For comparison, take Korean, my native language, as another example. The vowel seems to have a relatively short duration, and consequently the coda seems to be long. I can feel this when I sing in Korean.

I'd like to classify languages by this criterion, but I've never seen a term for it. What is it?

  • Onset does not necessarily contribute the least, duration-wise. In languages that allow complex initial clusters, it can potentially even exceed the duration of the entire rime (nucleus + coda); e.g., in a (hypothetical) syllable like [stʃkɾəp̚], the onset [stʃkɾ] will almost inevitably be longer than the rime [əp̚]. Feb 19, 2023 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


There is no technical term for the ratio of vowel duration to coda duration. For the sake of clarity, it would be better to talk of "the ratio of vowel duration to coda duration", so that people would know what you mean, rather than making up a new term.

While you're at it, you should not just dismiss onset duration as a priori irrelevant. It might turn out to not matter, but that is an issue that has to be decided empirically.

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