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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnCatDubh

Pitch accent

Does the Japanese course have standard pitch accent? Because basically the only reason I use it is to correct mine. I want to make sure there are no issues in that area.

October 11, 2017

2 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Semeltin

I'm interested in this, too. However, as duolingo's audio is sometimes faulty, I think you shouldn't necessarily correct yourself if you've learnt the words already. It would probably be a better idea to watch videos on Youtube etc. that you know are made by people from Tokyo.

Since I was interested whether common words are pronounced with the standard pitch accent, I just checked a handful of them:

As of right now… わ た し [wàtá(ꜜ)shí] in わ た し の あ に seems to be correct, according to Wiktionary: (Tokyo) わたし [wàtáshí]

く も り in Hiragana 3 (Translate) sounds like [kùmórì] to me, but Wiktionary states that it is [kùmóríꜜ]
Maybe what I'm hearing is the step down [ꜜ], but I think that should only concern the syllable after [rí].

い え in Hiragana 3 [ìé] is in line with the sound file on Wiktionary

は れ in Hiragana 3 is in line with Wiktionary [hàréꜜ]

Maybe I'll take a look at this again some other time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Semeltin

I've read a little bit about the pitch accent, again.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pitch_accent

One thing that I've understood, is that Wiktionary seems to be using the binary pitch accent model for Japanese, since I've only encountered these representations: á à
If we ignore the other models for now, we can already say that every (phonological) word with a high pitch on the first mora is the same: They all are only high pitched on the first mora!

The words that have a low pitch on their first mora fall into two groups: "accented" ones (I assume that what is meant is a stress accent)
and "unaccented" ones/ heiban

The accented words have a high pitch from the second and up to the stressed mora
The unaccented words have a high pitch from the second mora to the last (including suffixes).

What all of this means is that く も り would be [kù'móꜜrì] in the one sentence on Duolingo, but (according to Wiktionary) not in the standard accent. [kùmórí] alone would mean that it is either accented on the last mora or not at all, however, the downstep [kùmóríꜜ] indicates that following suffixes would be low. That seems to prove that [kùmóríꜜ] is accented on the last mora.

Furthermore, I've understood that the recording of わ た し is unstressed, otherwise the (high pitched) し wouldn't be lower than (the even higher pitched) た (which I indicated with (ꜜ) [wàtá(ꜜ)shí]).
Hence, this is in line with the transcription on Wiktionary which lacks <ꜜ> completely – an accented し should be transcribed as [shíꜜ]. (obviously, I used <ꜜ> in the phonetic sense which differs a lot from the usage on Wiktionary that seems to represent the important phonological downstep)

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