What do you guys think of Dogen?

I dont know much about stress or pitch accent ( except for what I mentionned after watching Dogen video ) In french, we dont even have intonations to begin with. Although I try to mimick a native when I speak japanese

Just to be clear, intonation is usually described as a sentence-level unit of speech, and is distinct from pitch accent (or stress accent) which are at the word or phrase level.

It’s how you can ask a question by raising the tone at the end of a statement. That’s a difference in intonation. Or how you can say something happily versus gloomily.

Was that what you meant to say French doesn’t have? Because… I imagine it has something like that?

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Nope in french we almost never switch between levels haha ( je suis français ) kinda odd but it works I guess. Sorry I am getting off topic

I will have to search on these terms

I know he’s not a native French speaker, but I’m curious what @Jonapedia thinks, because that sounds wild to me.

Reading this is interesting, seems like it varies a lot less than English does.

In French, stress (l’accentuation) is placed on the final syllable of a word. This means that word stress is easily predicted (and learned!) in French.

Apparently it might vary more in Paris though :thinking: Someone on a forum wrote this:

There is no stress in French actually. Just a falling intonation at the end of a sentence (except in Paris (posh).

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Interesting about the accent on words.

Still, French people surely distinguish happy and sad and other means of speaking sentences, no?

Well, from what I know, it’s more or less what @Lahoje posted: in a neutral sentence (i.e. a simple statement), if anything in a word is stressed, it’s the last syllable, and even then, only barely. However, if someone is speaking more emotionally, I think that tends to change: individual words are definitely stressed for emphasis, and in such cases, one doesn’t necessarily stick to stressing the last syllable of each word, which is hardly a rule to begin with. (At the least, I’m not aware of any French teachers explicitly teaching it.) Word-level stress is honestly pretty flexible in French. Simplest bit of proof: I decided that “bon-JOUR” is the more common way of greeting people, so I started sticking to that, but it’s also fairly common to hear “BON-jour”, especially if someone wants to sound cheerful.

At the sentence or phrase level, however, there is a sort of standard intonation (and I learnt it so I would sound more French): the tone in French phrases rises until roughly the middle of the phrase, and then drops until the end. I think that this doesn’t change much when people get emotional. What changes instead is the magnitude of the variations in tone, and perhaps the speed at which they happen. Of course, how things change depends on the specific emotion involved, but I think the specifics of that are pretty universal across languages, and the overall pattern doesn’t change too much. The main exception is of course questions, for which one’s tone tends to rise at the end of the sentence.

I can’t think of anything else that might be helpful to say, so I guess I’ll stop there for now. In short, however, I think French intonation and stress patterns are actually a lot simpler than for, say, English, and that could make things easier for learners, honestly.


I always wonder about some things when I hear statements like this.

  1. Are they subconsciously factoring in things like bad pronunciation and lack of devoicing when they talk about bad pitch accent? Or are they assuming nearly flawless pronunciation of the sounds themselves and are truly just referring to pitch accent?
  2. If they truly are just talking about pitch accent, how bad are we talking? People that don’t know fundamental pitch patterns and/or use stress as if they were speaking English? Or are they saying that (for example) if a speaker uses the correct pitch accent 70-90% of the time, but sometimes has a down step for a verb that should be heiban or uses heiban for a noun that should drop after the first mora it completely throws them off?

Dogen is undoubtedly a central figure in Zen Buddhism, but during Zazen I still try to focus and avoid thinking of him.


Yeah I didn’t want to call out anyone actually making an effort. That one was cool because the guy was tongue-in-cheek about it.

Do you talk like this lady from Mississippi?


@leebo pretty much covered it, but yeah it’s not directly related to pitch accent. But that’s kind of the point I was getting to.

When checking with the opinions of native speakers, the general public probably doesn’t even think about these distinctions.

Yup. Basically this.


I’m watching Oishinbo and the non-Japanese characters there are so obviously voiced by Japanese actors using wrong pitch accents :rofl:


After watching Dogens free videos I found out that after learning Japanese for about fifteen years, beeing married to a Japanese since thirteen years and living in Japan since about ten years I actually did not know what a pitch really is.

During discussing the topic with my husband he said it’s a waste of time to learn it because the contents of what you say matter more than how you say it and there are different dialects and so on anyway but finally he said I pronounce his name wrong… After I know him for fifteen years. And no Japanese teacher ever talks about pitch.

After frantically looking up everything I could find about pitch accent I decided to sign up for Dogens patreon and if I am able to find the delete function I will happily delete my previous thoughts about this topic…