Duration refers to how long sounds are. In some languages, making a sound longer or shorter doesn’t change the meaning of a word or sentence. For example, in English, whether you say ‘cat’ very quickly’ or ‘caaaaaat’ over a stretched-out period of time, you are still referring to the same kind of animal. But in other languages, like Japanese, changing the duration of a sound can change the meaning of a word or sentence. Thus, short and long vowels, as well as short and long consonants, can convey different meanings. Watch the video below to learn more about duration in Japanese.