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  Japan

Pitch Accent? Should Learners of Japanese master it?

April 2011

I have two friends who are keen on learning Japanese. We sometimes talk with each other in Japanese via Skype. The other day one of them said to me that he was told to work on his pitch in Japanese. I don’t know who told him to do so, however I had never heard of pitch accent even though I am Japanese. (Note: I am a 31-year-old Japanese male, just an ordinary native speaker of Japanese, not a teacher of the Japanese language. Now I live in Fukuoka, Kyushu that is far from Tokyo where standard Japanese is spoken, however I lived in Tokyo for three years so that I know what standard Japanese is like. )

A few moments ago I read about pitch accent in other thread and I searched what pitch accent in Japanese is like on the Internet, because I always think that I’d like to be useful for my friends to improve their Japanese.

I found the following page.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pitch_accent

On the above page, there is a recording of a few examples of various words whose pitches are different.

Now I understand what pitch accent in Japanese is, however, to be honest I think we Japanese can understand the meaning of the word when it is put in the context even when it is said by foreigners and the pitches are all the same. So if learners of Japanese want to pronounce a single Japanese word to be heard like native Japanese or they want to be like native speakers of Japanese they might as well focus on pitch accent.

Of course if my friends want to do so I would help him to be able to.

As I wrote above I am just an ordinary Japanese who does not have any knowledge at all on linguistic terms or something like that, so please let me know if anyone knows the example that learners must master pitch accent.

Thanks in advance.