I’ve come to the conclusion that “pitch accent” is an issue pretty much only for native English speakers. In most other languages, it’s the same as emphasis/stress, because most languages don’t change the pronunciation of vocals so much depending on whether it is the emphasised syllable or not.
I hear non-natives of all kinds of languages speaking with poor pitch accent in Japanese.
But that’s because they don’t learn which is the stressed syllable, not because of “pitch”. And knowing the stressed syllable is important for all languages, not just japanese (unless you have a language that always emphasises the same syllable, which makes it easy).
The whole point of pitch accent being a different thing in Japanese from stress accent is there isn’t a stressed syllable, but there is one where the pitch falls.
Either way, I guess I’m not sure what you mean by them not having an “issue” then. It sounded like you were suggesting only English speakers speak with poor pitch accent. And English speakers are perfectly capable of speaking with good pitch accent if they are attentive listeners.
No, that’s not what I was trying to say about native English speakers.
Native English speakers need the concept of pitch accent, because “stressed syllable” isn’t enough to explain the phenomenon.
I had been wondering about the mysteries of “pitch accent” because to me it sounded just like an emphasised syllable and finally realised that that is exactly what it is.
The accented syllable is not spoken with more volume or length, the way that stressed accents are in English, but I guess if you’re only talking about what it sounds like to you then that’s your perception and there isn’t anything for me to comment on.
Pitch accent is called 高低アクセント in Japanese if you’re curious about reading about it in Japanese. It’s not just something we non-natives discuss.
We don’t really disagree, do we?
I don’t really understand what you’re saying, so I’m not sure if we agree or not. No need to belabor it though. Have a good one.
No, this is wrong. I am a native speaker of two languages, none of them being English, and we don’t have pitch accent. In fact, the only European language with pitch accent that I’m aware of is Swedish.
The thing you’re alluding to is vowel reduction in unstressed syllables in English. That is, the quality of the vowel changes in unstressed position. This doesn’t happen in Japanese, but it also doesn’t happen in my native tongues (it does happen in Russian, though). So, yes, if you speak only English, you will have to unlearn that.
But pitch accent is still a thing that is completely unrelated to that.
Wow, these are golden. Thanks!
One time when I was talking to my japanese friend and picked up a new word, I asked her to repeat it so I could hear the pitch accent more clearly. She looked at me as if that was a weird thing to ask. So yeah as @Tenugui said I guess you can learn it by simply listening attentively without stressing too much about it!
Japanese doesn’t have a stressed syllable in anything like the English sense. In English the stressed syllable has greater volume and duration, but is tonally flat. It also changes the meaning of the word. Ex: “I will record the audio for my new record.” “Record” stressed on either the first or second syllable is a different meaning and different part of grammar.
In Japanese pitch accent helps identify words, but doesn’t fundamentally change their meaning or function. Pitch accent is used at level volume, and also varies from region to region. Using is properly just helps you sound like less of a foreigner.
I don’t think you’re describing this accurately either:
Stressed syllables in English, or other stress-accented languages, do tend to have higher pitch, They are not “tonally flat”. However, this is not an absolute requirement and it is, I think, possible in certain situations to have the stressed syllable have lower pitch. The basic difference is that pitch is not the primary marker of stress, emphasis is (and in English, vowel non-reduction and, sometimes, length). In Japanese, pitch is the key factor, and in particular, the pitch of one syllable (or mora) also affects the pitch of surrounding morae in a regular way, which is rather unlike e.g. English.
Not every English word changes to another meaningful word if you stress the wrong syllable (in fact, the vast majority don’t). Conversely, Japanese does have words that are solely distinguished by their pitch accent pattern. So the claim that “stress accent differentiates words but pitch accent does not” is not true.
Fair enough. My knowledge of Japanese is still growing, and I’d like to know more.
For point number 2, I made no claim that it was valid for every word in English. The pattern is noun/verb pairs where the verb gets the first syllable stress and noun gets the second syllable stress: record, present, object etc.
I’m not aware of a similar pattern in Japanese. Every language has similar words, and sometime a different pronunciation is used to distinguish them, but sometimes it’s just left to context: pair/pare/pear ; red/read ; 聞く/ 効く ; 月 / 付き
So what is the pattern in Japanese?
That is a common (and rather interesting) pattern in English, but it’s not universal (for example, advise vs. advice, both have the stress on the same syllable). (And for the récord, in your example, the noun would get the stress on the first syllable, and the verb on the second.)
I’m not aware of a similarly systematic distinction in Japanese (though that may just be lack of knowledge), but we do have things like 橋/箸/端 or 髪/神 where the differentiator is pitch accent.
Advice and advise do have the same stress structure, but they are spelled and pronounced differently (at least in American English) despite being a pair.
(side note: I read a lot of translated novels online, and misuse of advise/advice really gets on my nerves because the ESL translators have a hard time with proper usage)
You’re absolutely right about record, and it is a very odd one. I probably should not have used it as an example at all, since the noun [rec·ord] and verb [re·cord] form use syllable shifts as much as vowel stress for differentiation.
As I went through the usages of record in my mind, I realized part of the problem is that in normal context the stress pattern are opposite of convention, but if I was to say the word by itself and emphasize the verb meaning, I would stress the first syllable much more heavily because it is different from the noun. That led to some confusion on my part.
I alternate but prefer “wo” but my 1/2 nihonin dad ABSULUTLY INSITS that it is just “o”
A better example is probably permit, although there are accents I’ve heard from the Midwest and parts of California that pronounce both with the stress on the second syllable. Drives me up the wall sometimes. lol
Although to make sure we don’t confuse anybody, distinguishing the meanings of words by accent only applies if there are no other contextual clues that would allow the listener to identify the meaning in accented languages.