Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Japanese pitch accent

  Tags: Accent | Japanese
 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
United States
Joined 4803 days ago

2 posts - 2 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese

 Message 1 of 8
02 February 2010 at 4:26am | IP Logged 
Has anybody found a useful way for studying Japanese pitch accent? It seems very few learners discuss this or find it to be a problem. I know it's not necessary to learn it, but I want to sound as native-like as I can. Any help would be appreciated.
1 person has voted this message useful

Captain Haddock
Senior Member
Joined 6162 days ago

2282 posts - 2814 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: French, Korean, Ancient Greek

 Message 2 of 8
02 February 2010 at 8:41am | IP Logged 
Most textbooks don't cover the pitch accent, but you could always study the accent guides and dictionaries that are
published for native speakers, and it's good to learn some of the common minimal pairs (like kaki and hashi that
can mean three different things depending on the accent).

Most important, I think, is to be aware they exist and to try to imitate the pitch and cadence of native speakers.
1 person has voted this message useful

Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2011
Senior Member
Joined 5536 days ago

2150 posts - 3229 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish, Croatian, Greek, French, Russian, Swedish, Portuguese, Turkish, Italian, Japanese
Studies: Romanian, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Persian, Catalan

 Message 4 of 8
12 February 2010 at 1:44am | IP Logged 
My current Japanese book, Ultimate Japanese Beginner-Intermediate, does mark the pitch accent, and I think that Colloquial Japanese does also. I don't think it should be too much of a problem for comprehension, because context should probably help in differentiating, and kanji will help in written language. However, it does make a marked difference between people sounding like foreigners and people sounding native. I do also agree with Captain Haddock in that listening to spoken Japanese should help you naturally understand how it should sound.
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 4815 days ago

12 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese

 Message 5 of 8
24 February 2010 at 1:11am | IP Logged 
Japanese Step by Step has pitch marked as well.

Studying pitch accent from a book wont help very much though. Like Captain Haddock said, it's better to just know it exists and try to imitate native speakers. Sometimes pitch isn't entirely obvious and trying to say a word knowing only its pitch might actually sound worse than if you said it naturally.

There's a series known as "Japanese Core 2000 sentences" on that you can try to imitate for practice.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 4802 days ago

168 posts - 389 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Japanese

 Message 6 of 8
27 February 2010 at 1:27pm | IP Logged 
I'm in the process of studying "Japanese Step by Step" along with other materials.

It's nice to have a written version of the pitch differences, but I don't think there's any way it can really be sufficient. At least for me, I really need some audio elements to my studying so that I can hear all the words I'm learning at least a few times as they are actually used by a native.

I'm not sure where you're at in your studies, but things like Pimsleur, Assimil, or some textbooks (I use Genki, which has many audio tracks) can give you a chance to naturally get those pitches into your head without studying them from written materials. I've found that when I am able to listen to the language a bit before really cementing the words into my mind then I don't really have to think about pitch at all, it comes very naturally as long as you learn the word as it is pronounced by natives BEFORE you absorb it incorrectly by trying to pronounce it on your own without much guidance.

From what I've read, and from what I've experienced to some degree, is you can really mess up your pronunciation later on if you're doing reading and writing before you get some listening practice in. When reading or writing you get an "internal monologue" going where you are "pronouncing" things in your head, probably incorrectly, and those bad habits are harder to expunge later. Therefore the more you can hear the words correctly, either before or as you are learning them, the better, so bad pronunciation habits don't have time to fester in your mind, forcing you to fix them later.

I've been pretty good about it, but I still notice words that I've learned from texts a bit too early, and that I'm now still trying to pronounce as they existed in my head as I learned them, rather than how they should be spoken.

Edited by Sandman on 27 February 2010 at 2:45pm

2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 4775 days ago

3971 posts - 7746 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 Message 7 of 8
02 March 2010 at 8:07pm | IP Logged 
I’m in the same boat as you are. I’ve just about given up on finding resources; instead, I’ve been trying to figure out the rules myself. I did get an accent dictionary, but apart from giving me the pitch on individual words, it’s not very helpful for figuring out patterns at the phrase level. Unless I can derive pitch at the phrase level from the pitch of individual words...

Of course, natives never know about this, and neither do teachers – if they’ve put any thought into it at all. They’ll tell you where the pitch is, but they can’t explain why taBEru becomes TAbete or taBETAi, or why haNAsu becomes haNASAnai.

While we all agree that pitch is not essential, I’ve been misunderstood many times because of it and I too wish to speak like a native. Of course, you should imitate natives, but how about when you are uttering phrases you have never heard? Which, let's face it, is most of the time.

We could start a thread to determine the rules of pitch assignment, hopefully with the help of natives, and I could share with you the little I’ve understood so far.

Edited by Arekkusu on 04 March 2010 at 5:56pm

1 person has voted this message useful

Monox D. I-Fly
Senior Member
Joined 4529 days ago

762 posts - 664 votes 
Speaks: Indonesian*

 Message 8 of 8
12 February 2018 at 2:38pm | IP Logged 
Captain Haddock wrote:
(like kaki and hashi that
can mean three different things depending on the accent).

What do they mean? I only knew that "kaki" means "fence".

1 person has voted this message useful

If you wish to post a reply to this topic you must first login. If you are not already registered you must first register

Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum

This page was generated in 0.2500 seconds.

DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2023 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.