TUFS Language Modules


Generally speaking, the accent of a word is different for each word, so there is no other way but to memorize each and every word separately. That is why learners have to know in advance the way to recognize the accent nucleus of each word upon hearing it. (Refer to section 1.8)

However, there are circumstances where it is possible to guess the position of the accent nucleus. One example is the accent of words from foreign languages or loan words. To a certain extent, there are rules regarding accents of loan words. As long as you remember the rules, it is possible to guess the position of the accent nucleus, and hence make acquisition easier. For those words that do not follow the rules, treat them as isolated examples and memorize them.

The accent nucleus of a loan word usually appears on the third mora from the end, for example, sa rada ( ラダ salad), ba nana ( ナナ banana), mi ruku ( ルク milk), ku rasu ( ラス class), te nisu ( ニス tennis), go rufu ( ルフ golf), ho teru ( テル hotel), ka nada ( ナダ Canada), i ndo ( ンド India), do itsu ( イツ Germany), ha wai ( ワイ Hawaii), ma ( ーマ Rome), p ūru ( ール pool), no kku ( ック knock), atakku (ックattack), handobaggu (ンドバッグhandbag), orenji (ンジorange), apāto (ートapartment), su kāto (ートskirt), chokorēto (チョコレートchocolates), aisukurīmu (イスクリームice cream), indoneshia (ンドネシアIndonesia), ōsutoraria (ーストラリアAustralia))

However, in cases where the third mora from the last is a dependent mora, such as, the mora obstruent (small tsu), the mora nasal, and the second half of a long vowel, or the second half of a diphthong; then the accent nucleus is moved to the preceding mora. (Refer to the theory section regarding this phenomenon). Examples of these are sa kkā ( ッカー soccer), kya npasu ( キャンパス campus), s ūpā ( ーパー supermarket), s ētā ( ーター sweater), erebētā (レベーターelevator), ta itoru ( イトル title)).

For words that have only two moras, the second from the last mora is the one that has the accent nucleus; in other words, it becomes an initially-accented word,for example, do a ( door), ba su ( bus), ga su ( gas), be ru ( bell), pa i ( pie)’, pi n ( pin).

In addition, there are some loan words that have been used in the Japanese language for a long time and are frequently used in everyday life. These loan words do not obey the above rules. Instead, they are unaccented words, for example, piano (アノ piano), garasu (ラス glass), koppu (ップ cup), amerika (メリカ America), buru (ーブル table), and bōrupen (ールペン ballpoint pen)).

Furthermore, related to the trend among young people to pronounce nouns unaccented, there are also such trends in the pronunciation of accents for loan words. The following examples are words that used to have its accent nucleus at the third mora from the last; but in the case of special moras, it lies in the previous mora. Here are examples:

dorama (ラマ drama), kurabu (ラブ club), netto (ット internet), tī (ーティー party), sunīkā (ニーカー sneakers), dezainā (ザイナー designer)).
There are also some loan words that are pronounced with the same accent pattern as their original form in the foreign language. These are some examples:

ne kutai ( クタイ necktie), ta kushī ( クシー taxi), pa irotto ( イロット pilot), a kusento ( クセント accent), re sutoran ( ストラン restaurant), ha ikingu ( イキング hiking), pa nfuretto ( ンフレット pamphlet), purezento (ゼントpresent)).