While it is easy to use a dictionary to determine a pitch accent of a particular, given word, I’ve been (at quite beginner’s level) yet unable to find any concise source discussing the general patterns and rules. Having pitch accent as a topic that interests me both practically (to enhance my speech) and theoretically, as my philological research centers around the mora and tonal stress, I am unaware even of where to find the discussion of verbal paradigms concerning their stress.

Having a historical exposition of its derivation from Middle Japanese would also be great.

Can someone point me to some literature discussing the detail of pitch accent in particular, and especially in general linguistic point-of-view?


1 Answer 1


It's not even clear for certain that 'pitch-accent' is a meaningful label - see Hyman (2009) for a pretty convincing argument that 'pitch-accent' is just a kind of tone system. He talks specifically about Standard Japanese, and that may point you elsewhere to more sources.

As for the historical development, de Boer (2010) is a six-hundred-page behemoth that probably talks about anything you could possibly want to know. It's not written in the most helpful theoretical framework (it's in traditional Japanese-style tone theory, rather than autosegmental theory), but all of the information is there, even if the analysis might be less than fully insightful at times.

  • Just checked out de Boer and realized that some people care a lot more about linguistics than I ever will. Wow, that is DENSE!
    – kandyman
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 23:21
  • @kandyman I've been meaning to read the whole thing for years now and I still haven't gotten past the 150-page mark or so :P
    – Sjiveru
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 6:44

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