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From my experience, there are many speakers who say すごく{LHL} even though they say はやく{HLL}, うまく{HLL}, etc.

I am aware that there are two "accent types" for the conjugated forms of downstep-type (起伏式) i-adjectives (形容詞) but I would expect that to vary on a per-speaker basis, not on a per-word basis for a single speaker.

My questions:

  1. As in the title, why is すごく exceptional?
  2. Is すごく the only such exception?
  3. To me (a non-native), すごく{HLL} sounds incorrect. What kind of intuition do standard-accent natives have about this pronunciation?
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    What do you mean by 't that to vary on a per-speaker basis'? Each word has the standard accent that most speakers use.
    – sundowner
    Nov 21, 2023 at 14:47
  • You say, "from my experience" -- what geographic region are the speakers from that you're listening to? For my part, I've lived in the Tōhoku and Kantō regions, and I'm used to all three of those adverbs having the downstep after the second mora. The OJAD (Online Japanese Accent Dictionary) results indicate a downstep after either the first or second mora for all three words. Nov 21, 2023 at 17:20
  • OJAD links: うまく, はやく, すごく Nov 21, 2023 at 17:22
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    It could be because すごく is regarded more as a word in its own right (and listed in dictionaries as such) than the adverbial form of an adjective. As a possible sign of that, the adjective すごい is often (mis-)used as an adverb in informal speech. This doesn't happen with other adjectives.
    – aguijonazo
    Nov 21, 2023 at 22:04
  • @sundowner It is my impression that, when it comes to the conjugated forms of 起伏式 i-adjectives, there exists some variation even in 標準語. naruto's answer below concurs with this view.
    – dekinai
    Nov 22, 2023 at 15:53

1 Answer 1

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Here is a research paper for this topic:

田川恭識, 中川千恵子. 東京方言における形容詞連用形・終止形・連体形のアクセントについて 一日本語話し言葉コーパスの分析を通して一. 音声研究. 18(3) 2014.

The paper says:

「~く」の形を取る形容詞連用形の規範的なアクセントは、平板式形容詞の場合、「アカク」のようになり、一方起伏式の場合は「シ'ロク」となる。(中略) 従来、起伏式のク形とクテ形が本来の「◯'◯ク」「◯'◯クテ」から「◯◯'ク」「◯◯'クテ」へ変化していることが指摘されてきた (磯村 2009, 松森 2012 等)。

And the paper has this table:

enter image description here

So among common 起伏式 i-adjectives, すごい does seem to be exceptional in that it almost always remains 起伏式 in its ku-form. I can think of several adjectives where their ku-form can be pronounced in both ways, such as 青い (あおく【HLL】 and あおく【LHL】) and 高い, though the 起伏型 version sounds a little dialectal to me. However, I can't immediately think of any other adjectives that are always pronounced with 起伏式 in their ku-form. To me, すごく【HLL】 sounds fairly unnatural and seems to belong to no dialect.

Interestingly, the same i-adjective often has different accent types in its ku-form and kute-form, and the tendency varies depending on the adjective. Please see the paper for details.

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  • What do you think of すごく{HLL} if used as 中止法? It sounds ~right to me. Not that you would ever use すごく as 中止法 due to formality mismatch, of course… Nov 23, 2023 at 0:34
  • @DariusJahandarie Ah, yes, we say ”彼の点数は[すごく]{HLL}、私の点数は普通だった". I don't know why, though.
    – naruto
    Nov 23, 2023 at 3:04

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