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I recall in my speaking/listening class last semester in Japan, when we were discussing proper intonation in the standard dialect, that the intonation of ありがとう varied rather widely between dialects (i.e. on which mora the intonation rises and falls).

Can someone please refresh my memory? How does the intonation of ありがとう vary between dialects?

Please also see the question I've posted in meta regarding notating intonation: What notation should we use for showing the pitch accent of words?

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In Nagoya, ありがとう is pronounced as LHLLL (see below), where L and H mean low and high pitches, respectively. I think that this is the same in Tokyo, too.

Correction: According to the publisher webpage on the book アクセントの法則 by Haruo Kubozono, the accent pattern of the word ありがとう is as follows:

  • Tokyo: LHLLL
  • Nagoya: LLHLL
  • Osaka: LLLHL
  • Kagoshima: LLLHH

I admit (with sadness) that I confused the traditional Nagoya pronunciation with the Tokyo pronunciation.

  • Thank you! This is exactly what I was trying to remember... and apparently, I say ありがとう like I'm from Nagoya (which isn't surprising, since I lived there for a year and a half...) – rintaun Jul 16 '11 at 22:28
  • And I always say it like I'm from Osaka :) – syockit Jul 17 '11 at 11:46
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Well, it's kinda tough to put this in text, but I'll try. The number indicate the strength (bigger=stronger).

Tokyo:
ありがとう
5 3 3 3 2

Osaka (Kansai):
ありがとう
3 3 3 5 5
おおきに
3 3 5 2

I'm not very sure how they sound in other areas like Tohoku, Nagoya, Chugoku (Hiroshima etc), Kyushu, Okinawa. Hokkaidoers sound pretty much like Tokyo guys, although if you go to really rural places within Hokkaido (or even Hakodate) they sound more like Tohoku-ish.

  • 5
    I have no idea what you are referring to as strength. In most dialects of Japanese, word accents are determined by pitch instead of stress. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 16 '11 at 11:54

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