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Learning pitch accent

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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby HarakoMeshi » Mon 01.14.2008 8:53 am

afroanxi wrote:
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~~~


Why continue to argue that there are no pitch variances in Japanese when we are all telling you that there are? And yes, Mike is in Japan, I was just in Japan myself for 1 month and many times before.. and you can find many resources online and in books to tell you how pitch is varied in Japanese, which is a part of the pronunciation.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 8:56 am

ok. than, let's just close the thread. Because this is not the topic theme anymore.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby HarakoMeshi » Mon 01.14.2008 9:00 am

Wasn't the topic about how to learn pitch accent?
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 01.14.2008 9:03 am

Learning pitch accent is very difficult without a teacher to correct you.

You asked why pitch accent is neglected in materials -- there's a sense even among native speakers and teachers that pitch accent isn't really important for foreigners to learn because it's hard, they can be understood anyway, and the pitches vary among region. Personally I think these are very questionable reasons to not include pitch accent in teaching materials, but the majority of textbooks are essentially reading textbooks with a few not-really-spoken exercises tacked on.

Listening to real Japanese probably won't help much because the pitches are very hard to hear if you don't know what you're listening for. I don't really have any good advice in this area if you're not in a class.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby afroanxi » Mon 01.14.2008 9:07 am

i think you already answered the question: where to learn how the pitch is varied in Japanese...
In books :D :D :D sure is
HarakoMeshi-->
Last edited by afroanxi on Mon 01.14.2008 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby HarakoMeshi » Mon 01.14.2008 9:08 am

This is just for a few examples. (Maybe one to throw at the kanji thread too ;) )

ここに、きのはしがある。
ここに、木の箸がある。
ここに、木の橋がある。
ここに、木の端がある。

http://sp.cis.iwate-u.ac.jp/sp/lesson/j/doc/accent.html

Clicking the kana images near the bottom of the page plays a sound file of each one.
Last edited by HarakoMeshi on Mon 01.14.2008 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 01.14.2008 9:33 am

I was being quite sincere when I said that just because he couldn't hear it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I've been told that I have a fairly good grasp of Japanese pronunciation and intonation, and there have been times on the phone where the other person didn't pick up for quite a while that I'm not Japanese.

Yet for all that, I have never been able to pick up on the pitch thing, much less actively learn it myself. To this day, I just can't hear it. And if someone does a side-by-side example for me, if I strain I can pick it up. But as for remembering which is which....I can't.

And, yes, there are times when my failure to pick up on and correctly differentiate between words of different pitch has been the source of communication hiccups.

I'm not surprised at all that afroanxi can't hear the pitch accent differences. God knows I can't. The difference is that I know they exist and don't go around telling people they don't.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Oracle » Mon 01.14.2008 10:31 am

pitch is important. Here's a simple everyday sort of sentence to add to HarukoMeshi's examples:

くるまでまっている

It means different things depending on where the pitch rises/falls:
車で待っている (I'll wait in the car) or 来るまで待っている (I'll wait until you/they arrive).
Last edited by Oracle on Mon 01.14.2008 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby enji » Mon 01.14.2008 12:25 pm

I noticed a while ago during class, when we repeat after our sensei, we tend to pronounce the words differently as compared to her. Once we had an oral exercise where our sensei tuned our pitch/accent syllable by syllable whenever we sounded weird. It was quite an experience. :)

To make things easier for myself, I think of the higher pitch as roughly similar to the first pitch in Chinese (阴平); and the lower pitch as roughly similar to the third pitch in Chinese (上声). However, I find it difficult to learn as unlike Chinese, where most of the pitch are set; in Japanese, the pitch of a word may change depending on the word before and/or after it.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 01.14.2008 3:57 pm

Flat-accented Japanese should be understood fine; there are regions of Japan (such as Tochigi and Ibaraki) that are called 無アクセント because there is either no pitch accent at all (or it is too small to be detected by the human ear). As people said before, dialects have different pitches as well.

There are some cases where the same phrase can mean different things with pitch accent variation, but in most cases the context will be enough to be understood.

However, every concession you make will make your Japanese that much harder for a native speaker to understand. A self-studying foreigner is probably already speaking broken Japanese with shaky pronunciation, so also having bad pitch accent may be the straw that breaks the camel's back -- or it might not be. I would say that proper pronunciation is more important than pitch accent, though.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Dehitay » Mon 01.14.2008 3:58 pm

My Japanese teacher used to correct my pitch usage too. At first I thought she was trying to correct my pronunciation, so when I asked her to repeat it and it sounded exactly the same to me, I was confused as hell. My being tone deaf didn't really make things any easier either.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 01.14.2008 4:33 pm

I would have to add my hat to the pile with Mike. While I wouldn't consider the word pitch to be the right word (see my below) It's there, but it's so subtle that the average non-native has a hard time picking it up..

As for Oracles explanation, is that considered pitch or temp? I would call that tempo.. But I might be using the wrong definition there. of course differentiation of words kuruma de and kuru made are a break in tempo or speed which I suppose could also be considered pitch.. Although when I think of pitch I think of tones.. and when I think of tones, I think of Thai, Chinese, or other sing-song type languages. While Japanese is considered a monotonic language in most language classifications..

Just my thoughts there honestly.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby ThePacster » Mon 01.14.2008 7:17 pm

After reading through this thread, I think I'm a little confused on what you all mean by pitch, if anyone could elaborate if that's possible. I saw Oracle's example of this

くるまでまっている


But that seems more in line with noting where a word starts and stops since it just happens that it can be perceived in two different ways depending on how you form kanji out of it.

The only thing I can think of that may be related to pitch is:

きる - kiru which means to cut, emphasis on the ki coming down to a softer ru

きる - kiru which means to wear something (like a shirt above the waist), emphasis on the ru.

Completely out of context, depending on how you say this it means two different things. In context, it will make more sense, but would appear odd if the emphasis is in the wrong spot.

Is that what you guys are talking about?
Last edited by ThePacster on Mon 01.14.2008 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby chikara » Mon 01.14.2008 7:41 pm

Dehitay wrote:
...... My being tone deaf didn't really make things any easier either.

Are you really tone deaf or do you simply think you are tone deaf because you have difficulty picking the difference between tones in certain circumstances, for example when listening to native Japanese speakers?

The bloke who taught me to play blues harmonica used to say "if you can recognise your mother's voice over the telephone you are not tone deaf".

It is possible to train your ear to more easily recognise different tones/pitch.
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RE: Learning pitch accent

Postby Gundaetiapo » Mon 01.14.2008 9:47 pm

I know that the accent of individual words can be looked up at dictionary.goo.ne.jp


How can I do that?

The bloke who taught me to play blues harmonica used to say "if you can recognise your mother's voice over the telephone you are not tone deaf".


Excellent advice. Learning to ID pitch is easy. An effective trick is to compose short distinctive melodies that begin on each pitch. Listen to them for a while and observe that playing just the first note of the melody "triggers" the rest of the melody to play in your head. Anyone can ID a melody.
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