While I was watching a video on Japanese phonology recently, the topic of pitch accents came up. I know about how pitch and tone can influence meaning in particular languages, but in the one and a half years I’ve been learning Japanese, I’ve never heard about the Japanese pitch accent. From what I’ve gathered, it seems to be quite a minor detail in spoken Japanese, only affecting a few words such as 橋 (bridge) and 箸 (chopsticks).
Has anyone else heard about these (probably), and if so, where did you hear about them? Was it from a textbook, or was it something you picked up on from talking to natives?
This is the video I was talking about: https://youtu.be/x9-e_3GHrzw?t=10m28s
(Edit: I should say that I’m not disregarding pitch accents. When it comes to the core phonetics, they aren’t as important as long/short vowels, but regardless, they are an important part of the language.)