January 15th, 2017

Pitch Accent

Japanese has something we call "pitch accent". And when I say, "we", I mean people who know something about it, which actually excludes me.

Somehow it's different than the "tones" in Chinese.

Japanese has words which are the same two syllables, but mean distinctly different things when you pronounce them with different pitches.

"Hashi" can mean chopsticks, bridge, or edge, depending upon pitch.

We have some roughly parallel things in English, having to do with accent or emphasis. "Conduct" can be a verb or a noun, spelled the same, but pronounced differently: "He was supposed to conduct the school orchestra, but was expelled for bad conduct."

English isn't easy - at least that's what I've heard.
But somehow babies learn it, so I fear this view's absurd.
Best of all, it doesn't contain a single foreign word.