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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome back to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide at JapanesePod101.com.
In this lesson, you're going to learn the basics of pitch accent in Japanese.
Let's listen to these words.
たまご egg、た・ま・ご、たまご
さかな fish, さ・か・な、さかな
Each syllable is pronounced with either a high or low pitch.
た・ま・ご
さ・か・な
The pitch accent for each word is determined when said in isolation. So, if you pronounce it in a different pitch, such as たまご (high, low low), it sounds strange.
Do you know why we need pitch accent in Japanese?
Japanese has many words with the same sounds but different meanings.
雨 (あhigh - めlow) and 飴 (あlow - めhigh)
雨 means "rain". It goes from high to low.
飴 means "candy". It goes from low to high.
Also, we have 橋 and 箸
箸 means "chopsticks." It goes from high to low.
橋 means "bridge." It goes from low to high.
To differentiate between these words with the same sounds, we need pitch accent. This is a key characteristic of Japanese.
There are two rules you need to know.
The first one is...
Pitch does not change in the middle of a syllable.
- てんき (high-low-low)、weather, て・ん・き、てんき
て is high.
Each ん and き is low.
So, each syllable is pronounced with either a high or low pitch. And pitch doesn't change in the middle of a syllable.
The second rule is...
First and second syllables of a word don't have the same pitch as each other.
あか red, あ・か、あか、high and low
いぬ dog い・ぬ、いぬ、low and high
げんき fine, げ・ん・き、げんき、high, low, low
ひらがな hiragana, ひ・ら・が・な、ひらがな、low, high, high, low
In all words, the pair of the first two syllables should be "high-low" or "low-high".
We're going to give you examples of some words with their pitch accent pattern. Try saying these words. You'll also review the sounds you learned so far.
あさ、"morning"、あ・さ、あさ
あさ
とり、bird, と・り、とり
とり
さくら、"cherry blossom"、さ・く・ら、さくら
さくら
おとうと、younger brother、お・と・う・と、おとうと
Be careful with the long vowel おー.
Repeat after me.
おとうと (with claps)
おとうと
きょうだい、siblings、きょ・う・だ・い、きょうだい
きょうだい
Here, you have a long vowel おー again. You need to change the tone from high to low in the middle of the long vowel.
Repeat after me.
きょうだい (with claps)
きょうだい
Congratulations! You've learned all the essential parts of Japanese pronunciation. You can listen to plenty of dialogs and vocabulary recorded by native Japanese speakers at JapanesePod101.com. Model your pronunciation on these and keep practicing!
How do you practice pitch accent? Share in the comment section!

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 23rd, 2014 at 06:30 PM
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Hello Listeners! Do you have any question about this Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide Lessons? Please, let us know!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 4th, 2021 at 08:24 PM
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Jaxynさん


Thank you so much for your feedback😄

I'll forward this to my team😉


Please let us know if you have any questions :)


Sincerely

Ryoma

Team JapanesePod101.com

Jaxyn
July 15th, 2021 at 07:04 AM
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pitch accent is something that i rarely see anyone go over! i would love to see all sorts of videos on just pitch accent, it really helps to be understood properly.😄😄

JapanesePod101.com Verified
June 21st, 2021 at 06:51 PM
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Hi Claudia,


Thank you for your comment!

Yes, knowing kanji will be definitely helpful for your Japanese learning☺️

And it must be really interesting.


Good luck with your kanji learning.

We are here to support you anytime:)


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Claudia
June 13th, 2021 at 06:20 PM
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Here I am, listening with gratitude. ❤️️ Meanwhile, my brain is wishing for an easy fix like indicators for each Kana’s pitch. Instead of dreaming of an easy fix, I am just going to buckle down and learn Kanji. I believe knowing Kanji will help me remember better, word by word. Crutches tend to be in the way, when they are no longer useful. Just thinking out loud. 😎

JapanesePod101.com Verified
December 9th, 2020 at 02:08 PM
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Musaabさん


Thank you so much for your comment😄

すごいですね😇

Please let us know if you have any questions :)


Sincerely

Ryoma

Team JapanesePod101.com

Musaab
December 7th, 2020 at 06:03 PM
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When saying a high pitch, I say it while contracting my stomach, like singers do.

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 25th, 2020 at 10:56 PM
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こんにちは Patrick,


Thank you for your feedback. I will forward it to our team for consideration.

If you have any further feedback or questions, we are glad to assist.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Patrick
August 23rd, 2020 at 08:40 AM
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Finally, I find this lesson (by accident) and it explains sooo much!

It should be front and centre of the level 1 pathways/master courses rather than endless 私の名前は or トイレはどこですか lessons. I know you need to introduce things gradually, but the contents of this five minute lesson is very important to understanding how to speak, but also how to listen.

Thank you Yamamoto-sama (I thought you were good in the NHK series too).

JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 10th, 2020 at 05:23 PM
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Bianca Cuscunaさん


Thank you so much for your comment😄

Unfortunately, there's no rule to know the pitch accent to certain words.

Many words have their pitch accent on their second letter, but you have to learn one by one😅

Please let us know if you have any questions :)


Sincerely

Ryoma

Team JapanesePod101.com

Bianca Cuscuna
July 8th, 2020 at 02:00 PM
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Hi! This is a Great series. I dont know if you have answered this already but, how am I supposed to know the Pitch accent to certain words?