Speaker's origin/dialect

Hi all, new member here.

I’ve been listening to Japanese lessons and I can’t help wonder occasionally if the speakers aren’t from Kansai or other regions. Since I care about pitch and I want to learn the Tokyo or standard form, I find it quite confusing not knowing the origin of the reader for sure.

Could there be a way to allow lesson creators to indicate where they are from or what dialect they speak?

Most accents you will hear at LingQ are standard. We do have an accent field for the library and could ask our Japanese contributors to use it.

In my experience, you can listen to any number of lessons, and over time you will hear overwhelmingly the standard form and that will form your accent unless you move to the Kansai.

Thanks for your quick reply.

I’m glad to hear that there is an accent field, but I’ve looked around and I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Nor can I search for that field, which would be very practical. Being new here, this just might be my fault though.

the content provider needs to enter an accent for it to show up.You can see how it works in languages like Spanish where it is used.
BTW what is your level in Japanese? As someone quite fluent in Japanese I really believe this is not an issue until you are good enough to easily identify accents and then you can choose to model your accent to the form of the language you prefer.

I would agree with you if we were talking about accent per se, but Japanese pitch is a different thing. The low/high pitch patterns from Kansai and Kanto are often opposite. Since I care about pronunciation, I’d like to be consistent.

My level? Int2 to Adv. Enough to get by in Japanese only with friends.

I checked a few lessons including Ken’s Radio show. Ken is from Osaka and I recommend his podcasts for someone of your level. I could not find any that were not in standard Japanese. Have you heard any lessons that are not in standard Japanese?

You can post on the Japanese forum and ask providers to enter their accent.

BTW I am quite fluent in Japanese and have never heard of pitch.

I suggest this Wikipedia article.

It took me a good 6 months before I realized there was such a thing too, as so few methods or dictionaries even mention it. Yet, it’s a key element to near-native fluency. As I get corrected by my language partners when the pitch is wrong, I’ve been careful about learning the right pronunciation, without mixing in diverging elements from various dialects/regional accents.

I’d also suggest this very succinct intro to Japanese pitch.

Amazing. I am blissfully unaware of pitch and will happily remain so.

BTW Alexandre, you are obviously at an advanced level, why do you say that your Japanese is "Enough to get by in Japanese only with friends. " Just curious. This seems very modest on your part.

It would seem to me that someone above the intermediate level can talk to anyone, although not without making mistakes.


I understand your concerns. When my former neighbour gave me his old text (“Japanese For Everyone” by Susumu Nagara), my ears, eyes and mind were opened. Wow! Other textbooks never really touched on this subject and of course, the more people you meet the more likely you are to run into people whose word accent stress is precisely the opposite of what you learned…then what? It was an uncomfortable feeling for me because I wondered if I would develop a weird mixed accent…and I started doubting the “right” way to pronounce words like “Ame”…as in “rain” and “candy”.

I think it’s very helpful to know the accent of the speaker and it’s also helpful to listen to various accents for comprehension, but don’t imitate them…unless you want to make a one-time TV appearance as a foreign language speaker who learned a regional accent. On the other hand, having a unique background
could be an icebreaker…

For more on pitch accent, I’d recommend “Pronounce in Perfectly in Japanese”. I don’t think it’s fascinating, but it does include a recording and goes into some detail. It’s good to know anyway.

I’m in the same bowl of soup…

I wonder if there is any relationship between the knowledge of pitch and the ability of a learner to speak Japanese well and with very little accent. My assumption is that the more the learner is aware of and concerned about pitch, the less naturally he or she will speak.

You will never reach a near-native level without proper use of pitch – of that, I am certain. Although I suppose you could have acquired perfect pitch over time without actually understanding the system… but you’d definitely be aware of it.

Even if you pronounce every sound perfectly, native speakers will always be able to pick the non-natives whose pitch isn’t right. In short, if you care about sounding good, it’s a must. And yet, it’s barely ever taught, and most learners don’t even know about it.

I wish a native could come and give their opinion about this.

I think that the more a person is attuned to the sound of a language, the better he or she will speak.

As I remember, you seemed to imply somewhere (on another language site, here or in your book) that people who are good at producing a native-sounding accent in one language will also be good at acquiring a native sound in additional languages.

I think people who acheive this-do it in one of four ways:

A. They are naturally-gifted mimics-the people who hear something and can immediately and correctly produce the same sounds.

B. People with some talent already who get most of the sounds, but need some fine-tuning

C. People who work carefully (with a coach, shadowing, etc.) to get that native sound.

Or a combination of B and C.

Some people never get a native sound even though they write better than I do and that’s okay. I wonder about that, but I also know that some people eventually lose a lot of their accent. It just takes longer.

I was not aware of pitch accent for a long time. People told me stuff like, “Just speak evenly without stress.” Being aware of pitch accent is a good thing, imo. It is like moving into the level where the learner is able to identify different regional accents. At first, it’s uncomfortable, but eventually the speaker
becomes a better speaker.

alexandre, it is not my goal to achieve near native pronunciation,nor even to “sound good”. Rather I just to communicate easily with native speakers.If I do that the rest will take care of itself.

I really wonder if native speakers know what pitch is. You could start a thread on it. This is an interesting subject and somewhat lost here.

Native speakers know what 「高低アクセント」is.

I might start a thread about whether natives think it’s important…

Interestingly, I was just listening to Ken’s Radio Show on the iPad
(Login - LingQ)
and at about 2:53, he corrects himself because he was using the wrong pitch!

He first said boKU, and corrected himself to say BOku, saying Standard Japanese accent was difficult.

I just thought I’d mention this for the sake of the argument.

I have just checked many of the lessons in Japanese library. I can say that most (all of my checked many lessons) are spoken in standard Japanese. Even the lessons of Ken’s radio show, Ken spoke in (almost) standard Japanese. I could not find thick Osakan accent in his lessons. I think that the different of boKu and Boku is not a big point, I don’t care about such a different. I believe that Ken’s lessons would be your great learning materials and examples.

As you know, Tokyo is a melting pot. Some people are born in Tokyo area and live in Tokyo. Some people came from Osaka or Hokkaido or Okinawa… People who live in Tokyo for a long years speaks standard Japanese. And newcomers tried to speak standard Japanese to hide their background of local people.

Please put some of the lessons from LingQ Japanese library in your ipod or MP3 player and ask your Japanese native friends to check them. I think they would say they are OK for your learning.

Hope this helps.

Thank you very much Nobuo-san, I really appreciate your taking the time to check this. I shall study in confidence :slight_smile: