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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



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.


I've read a little bit about the pitch accent, again.

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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