What is it like to learn Japanese from the perspective of someone whose native language is also pitch-accented?

As far as I know, Japanese is actually very simple as far as pitch-accent systems go. Some languages can be ternary (as opposed to Japanese’s binary pitch). They may even be tonally-reversed (words start high followed by low syllables/morae) or they can feature up-steps in addition to down-steps.

We often discuss the difficulties of transitioning from stress/tone to pitch here, but what is it like to make a lateral movement between pitch systems? (I understand that I’m talking to like 0.0001% of the WK population, but any feedback is appreciated!)


You better include some example languages, I’m not sure if I’m talking a tonally reversed ternary pitched language or not.


Well, in this post you’re certainly not. :stuck_out_tongue:

By which I mean because it’s English, not because it’s text.

It may look like English, but it certainly doesn’t sound like it when read out loud.

Sorry for lack of clarity. I don’t really know how to describe it, admittedly.

I skimmed my way through a Wikipedia page on Gyeongsang Korean and found it incredibly interesting that a language where the standard dialect relies on stress can also have regional variants with pitch distinctions. Apparently, it has more that just the simple low-high system that Japanese has.

As for tonally-reversed, that’s just a relative term. In Japanese words start low followed by high morae until an accent is reached. It’s not like it’s actually impossible to have it the other way around where words start high and get lower.

I am obviously out of my depth here. Again, sorry for quick-trigger posting.

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Don’t worry about it, I just wanted to say that “anyone speaking Thai/Korean/whatever?” will more likely find someone who knows someone who does :slight_smile:


“Pitch accent” is a generic term and each language has its own unique variant. Just because Swedish and Turkish have been described as having pitch accent, doesn’t mean that it will have any similarities with Japanese pitch accent.

We have pitch acsent in Norwegian, but I did not realize that was the case before studying Japanese.

I don’t think it had helped me mutch since I am not thinking about my pitch in 99% of Norwegian words. (I am willing to bet that most Norwegians will use bønner and bønder as an example of pitch in Norwegian since it is the only case I can think of where it’s only the pitch that diffeneciate two different words). In most cases in Norwegian you will sound a bit off and foragn if you use the wrong pitch in a word, but conning from a primary school teacher I have never taught pitch or tone to my pupils, and the books in school dont as well. Many of my students that have Norwegian as a second language have a really hard time to identify the pitch, but I feel that is the case for me as well. It feels wrong, but I often can’t say why.

It has not helped me personally in Japanese pitch even though it is the exact same pitch type (if that makes sense). Think it is because I am not aware if I have a high to low or high to high pitch in Norwegian even though I actually will use the correct way. When I try to listn for it in Japanese or use it myself, I am looking after a pitch change that I way more prominent that what is actually the case.

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