https://www.duolingo.com/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

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/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.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/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)

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JonathanDa983047

The Japanese pitch accent is not vital to learning. It changes in deferent regions of Japan like accents across the UK/US. Just learn with whatever you hear and you will be understood 99% of the time. Pitch accent is like the polish you use to master the language, not something to worry about early on.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Semeltin

I think it would make a lot of sense to worry about it early on, if language learning resources listed the (Tokyo) pitch accent of every word. But since that is not the case, it's just not feasible to learn the pitch accent from the start, unless you move to Japan.

October 13, 2017
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