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Learning pitch accent

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Learning pitch accent

Postby furrykef » Mon 01.14.2008 5:15 am

I'm still a beginning Japanese student and I think it would be a good idea for me to learn pitch accent from the very beginning. My rationale is that it is better to start with good pronunciation habits than to start with bad ones and try to patch them up later. However, the difficulties in this area seem rather extreme, especially for a student like me who is concentrating more on the written language rather than the spoken one (so less verbal reinforcement is possible).

I have the NHK Nihongo Hatsuon Akusento Jiten, and I know that the accent of individual words can be looked up at dictionary.goo.ne.jp as well, and in the Pocket Kenkyusha dictionary, which I have. Of course, since I don't know much Japanese, much of the supplemental material in the NHK jiten is currently useless to me. I mean... I know that 日本 is pronounced ni-HON and 二本 is pronounced NI-hon, but how would I look up the latter if I didn't already know?

And why is pitch accent neglected so much in learning materials? It's not terribly different from stress in English... it works a bit differently, but it serves the same function and is not any more complicated.

Finally, any tips for learning pitch accent? :)

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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 5:55 am

actually, the part of learning where to put the stress correctly is not that needed, cuz i lived in Japan and they don't have stresses at all...the words are understood from the context, like You gave an example: 二本 and 日本... it's just a matter of time and you will learn to understand... besides there are many different dialects.
the thing is that there are no stresses and pitch accents.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby HarakoMeshi » Mon 01.14.2008 6:13 am

"the thing is that there are no stresses and pitch accents." Umm, that's not true. There are and if you don't use them you will always have a foreign sounding accent. If you want to sound native in a certain dialect, you need them.

Usually they have dictionaries that show the Tokyo dialect, which is required for newsreaders. My mother in law works on producing dictations of books for people who can't see well enough to read, and so she was using one of these to help get the accents right.

Japanese For Everyone includes pitch accent guides for all the vocab.

It's kind of hard to learn just from books, so just listen and repeat to get used to it.
Last edited by HarakoMeshi on Mon 01.14.2008 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby NZJutsu » Mon 01.14.2008 6:22 am

Is there perhaps a site that has sounds for certain phrases in the various dialects?
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 01.14.2008 6:33 am

afroanxi wrote:
actually, the part of learning where to put the stress correctly is not that needed, cuz i lived in Japan and they don't have stresses at all...the words are understood from the context, like You gave an example: 二本 and 日本... it's just a matter of time and you will learn to understand... besides there are many different dialects.
the thing is that there are no stresses and pitch accents.



Just because you can't hear them doesn't mean they're not there.
Last edited by Mike Cash on Mon 01.14.2008 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 6:45 am

You mean stresses Mike ?
there aren't any.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby furrykef » Mon 01.14.2008 6:50 am

We're not talking about stress, but pitch. And the standard dialect (as well as most other dialects) definitely has distinctive pitch.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 6:52 am

OK, I'm sorry, :| maybe You're right. they have pitches, but that's not so important when learning the language.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby EvanT » Mon 01.14.2008 7:38 am

afroanxi wrote:
OK, I'm sorry, :| maybe You're right. they have pitches, but that's not so important when learning the language.


Oh? And at which point would you say one should start using the pitches in japanese words and phrases? After, say... a year or two into the language, after mispronunciatios have set in as bad habits? We all know how hard it is to break bad habits. Unless, of course one never plans to speak the language and only cares about writing it, but I doubt there are many people who do that in language-learning.

furrykef wrote:
I'm still a beginning Japanese student and I think it would be a good idea for me to learn pitch accent from the very beginning. My rationale is that it is better to start with good pronunciation habits than to start with bad ones and try to patch them up later. However, the difficulties in this area seem rather extreme, especially for a student like me who is concentrating more on the written language rather than the spoken one (so less verbal reinforcement is possible).


You are right, most resources don't record pitches cos it's assumed the student will pick them up from the teacher (or audio material in the series). Depending on the materials you use, this might be made more or less difficult. Since I've started learning the language with a teacher though, I cannot really imagine how difficult it is for someone involved in self-study.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 01.14.2008 7:44 am

afroanxi wrote:
OK, I'm sorry, :| maybe You're right. they have pitches, but that's not so important when learning the language.


So the Japanese language has developed and perpetuated this feature despite it having no significance?

Have you decided yet just what Japanese does and does not have? Besides being uninformed (and spreading your ignorance), you vacillate. How seriously are we supposed to take you?
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby furrykef » Mon 01.14.2008 8:10 am

It's perhaps not so important for being understood correctly... I've heard from various sources that Japanese spoken with a flat intonation will always be understood. (But Japanese spoken with consistently wrong intonation may not be!) But it's certainly important for sounding natural and native-like.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 8:17 am

Evant, the pitch is not important. it's not Chinese.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby HarakoMeshi » Mon 01.14.2008 8:22 am

afroanxi wrote:
Evant, the pitch is not important. it's not Chinese.


Oh dear. Do you want to sound like a native Japanese when you speak? Then they are important.

It's not as important as Chinese for making yourself unerstood, but it is if you don't want to sound odd.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 8:39 am

if you don't want to sound odd than You should think about the pronunciation, not the pitch... the pitch does not differ from the one in your language.
I don't understand why Mike is insulting me, i mean You live in Japan... don't you agree with what i said. there are not any special pitches or smth like that. the language is more like flat sounded.
those who were to Japan should know what am I talking about. You don't hear something extra ordinary in the language. only if you come a Ramen-restaurant where the chef goes IRASHAIMASEEE~~~
Last edited by afroanxi on Mon 01.14.2008 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 01.14.2008 8:42 am

Insulting you would require making gratuitous and specious aspersions. I did no such thing. I merely offered some accurate observations. That they are not flattering to you doesn't make them insults.
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