Heiban verbs acting as odaka? Hmmmmmmmm

Yo fellas,

Alright, there’s a problem that’s been plaguing me for a while now: Japanese pitch accent in verbs–or more specifically, heiban verbs acting as if they are odaka when followed by a particle.

See here:

Following each verb is the verb-nominalising particle の. Every one of those verbs are heiban.

Anybody experienced similar confusing contradictions, or does anyone actually know what’s causing this

Thank ya!


I can’t give you an explanation on the mechanics behind it, but here is an answer to the influence of the nominalizers のand こと on pitch accents on the japanese language stack exchange :


I don’t know enough about pitch accent to explain why it happens, but it seems that when verbs are involved, a pitch drop on nominalising の is normal, even for conjugated forms. I personally wouldn’t treat this usage like other particles, because the words that we usually call particles (with the exception of は) are generally 格助詞 (‘case particles’). Honestly, even the case particle の (the one that indicates possession, characterises something or indicates apposition) is an exception for pitch accents: it turns 尾高 into 平板. You can take a look at this ‘memorandum’ on pitch accent variations with regard to particles and helper verbs (助動詞 in traditional Japanese grammar i.e. ない、られる、れる etc): http://www.lang.osaka-u.ac.jp/~caris/articles/助詞・助動詞のアクセントについての覚え書き.pdf There’s a summary table at the end.


What I use to investigate pitch accent

That would make sense if it were an isolated few cases of commonly-used particles changing the pitch accent; irregularities are only regular in that they are a given, but I’ve so far found less particles that adhere to the 平板 pattern than those that adhere to 尾高. In fact, I’ve yet to find one that complies with the 平板 pattern. I’ve been using 乗る as the example verb and the aforementioned website to test. Maybe you can spot a mistake in my methodology, I can’t read Japanese beyond an intermediate level (or, more specifically, level 21 of wanikani) so I’m afraid the pdf you sent me only really communicated vague ideas of I think I’m right??

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

の (obviously haha)

Note: it would seem two-mora particles follow their own (usually(?)) 頭高 pattern.

I’m aware of this site, and I figured that was what you were using the moment I saw your screenshots. It’s generally very good, and I wish I could download their pitch accent engine into my head, but I have found one isolated example for which it doesn’t quite match reality: 寄生虫 and 帰省中 were pronounced identically in the NHK videos that I was able to find, but the OJAD says they’re pronounced differently. Perhaps some usage has changed over time, or there are multiple acceptable pronunciations.

My mistake. I figured that you might be able to vaguely guess what pitch variations were indicated by the markings in the summary table, but perhaps they weren’t very clear, since reading pitch variation markings does require a little experience with the subject.「 indicated the first high syllable, and its mirror image (which I can’t type) indicated the last high syllable (i.e. the accented syllable).

I think the problem is in fact the fact that you’ve been using a verb, whereas most of the particles in Japanese get attached to nouns and can’t always be attached to verbs. Another thing: the OJAD is punctuation-sensitive, so adding question marks and so on could change the results.

か – this is the question/uncertainty particle, so there’s no way it would follow the rules. Tone changes depending on the nuance to be conveyed: an actual question would require a rising tone, whereas an almost-flat, slightly falling tone would imply a sort of mild acceptance or even resignation

が – this isn’t the usual particle usage, and would be interpreted as the conjunction that usually translates as ‘but’ and occasionally as ‘and’. I can’t be 100% sure, but all the sound bytes I have in my memory require the pitch to fall. It only stays the same if the speaker is hesitating/waiting for approval.

し – same problem: this is practically a conjunction, and unless someone is very excited/emotional when speaking, the pitch always falls on し.

ぜ・ぞ – these are both masculine sentence-ending tone particles. I don’t think any tone particle follows the rules: they all change the pitch based on the emotion expressed, and the default way they’re read in a plain statement requires a pitch drop.

で・に – で seems to preserve 平板 for 乗る, but neither of these particles usually attaches itself to a verb.

I’d suggest you try testing the particles with nouns like すみれ or the pronoun これ, both of which have a 平板 pitch accent. That aside, unfortunately, the pitch accents we expect aren’t always preserved in actual sentences, so that may limit the usefulness of studying dictionary pitch accents, even if they’re still good to know.

1 Like

The thing that you’re missing is that pitch accent is not an immutable thing at the word level, (and that’s why we have different pitches existing in the first place) and certain particles can affect the pitch of words, in the standard pitch accent の is the most common one, I’d say. This isn’t exclusive to the nominalizer usage either.

Pitch exists at a level beyond the word level, and in sentences as well. Like, 咲く is LH(H) and the pitch of 桃 is LH(H). When you say 桃が咲く, the pitch is LHHHH(H) instead of LHHLH(H).


You should always take these sites with a grain of salt. The engines start to break down rapidly if you use more than one word, and are not necessarily correct. Better to listen to native examples (can’t remember the site with recordings).

1 Like

it’s normal with の. pitch accent can be affected by the surrounding words/particles

1 Like

Yeah, you’re right, most particles don’t really work well with with verbs, but since I have the nouns mostly figured out in terms of pitch accent (keyword: mostly), I’m mostly focussing on this wack phenomenon that seems to go against what the dictionaries confidently say

Yeah, naturally, I get that. And I get your point of how analysing things too closely in such a fluid system seems pointless, but pronunciation to me is priority 1, even before vocabulary and grammar (good thing then that most of the time pronunciation is a study-it-and-move-on kinda deal then, huh). If I can say ‘hello’ and trick every native speaker into thinking I’m one of them, then other words are a secondary concern lol

What do the (H) in brackets mean? :thinking: Voiceless pitch? Beginning of the next word pitch?

Forvo, possibly?


That’s the pitch of what comes next, like for example 花 is LH(L) (Odaka), while 鼻 is LH(H) (Heiban). So they’re the same if said in isolation, but if you say 〇が then they are different as the が takes on that H or L.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.