This article explores the way in which Maldivian Thaana and Japanese kana represent the mora count of syllables, and proposes an expansion of the inventory of script types to include moraic alphabets and moraic syllabaries.
|Journal||Writing Systems Research|
|Link||Maldivian Thaana, Japanese kana, and the representation of moras in writing|
Thaana, the script used to write the Maldivian language Dhivehi, represents the segments—the individual vowels and consonants—of the language but also notates the mora count of its syllables by assigning long vowels two vowel marks each and by using an absence-of-vowel mark on syllable-final consonants. The two Japanese kana—hiragana and katakana—do not represent individual segments, but they too notate mora count by giving long vowels two signs and by using signs for syllable-final consonants. In both languages, the kinds of consonants that can occur syllable finally are severely restricted. It is the presence or absence of such a consonant, rather than the identity of the consonant, that is important. Using a writing system that represents mora count thus makes sense in both languages. Yet Thaana and the two kana otherwise work on different principles, so it is not adequate to call them simply moraic writing systems. This prompts an expansion of the inventory of script types: Thaana is a moraic alphabet and the kana are moraic syllabaries.