I've seen some people say it is unecessary to learn pitch accent, but with my current knowledge, there are multiple ways to say a word with pitch accent and if you don't know the pitch accent, the word would mean something else, so wouldn't it be extremely important?

Also, do all words have multiple pitch accents?

  • Two useful tools for you should you decide to go down this path: 1. 三省堂, which lists pitch accent for most of its entries bar proper nouns. weblio.jp/cat/dictionary/ssdjj 2. Forvo, where almost all important words and phrases have native-speaker-recorded pronunciations. forvo.com To be honest, though, your question is something that has been asked a zillion times. I'm sure either here or all over the Net will you find discussions that answer your question. I'm rather surprised that people are still kind enough to answer this which would normally be deemed "low effort."
    – Yeti Ape
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 23:46
  • 2
    Ah, when I said how to find pitch accent, I was more referring to a method to find pitch accent for all words, not a source that would simply show the pitch accent for multiple words. I was more asking in terms of a metaphor, how to catch the fish, not where to recieve more fish. (There is that metaphor that goes, "give a man a fish, feed him once, teach a man to fish, feed him for life" or something like that if you haven't heard it.
    – Mia
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 2:28

2 Answers 2


The pitch accent of a word may vary across dialects and pitch accent is probably not strictly necessary to make yourself understood — words which are homophones up to pitch accent will usually be disambiguated by context. (Even in a single dialect there are many homophones.)

However, if you choose to ignore pitch accent it will make your (foreign) accent stronger.

Apart from looking up pitch in a dictionary listing pitch accent, being being aware of the fact that pitch accent exists and listening out for it is probably the best thing you can do. When you copy other people, try to copy from people speaking the same dialect to give you a more consistent accent.

Also see

  • They do vary across regions but in a consistent way. Non-native speaker have no consistent accent pattern so it's not really the same thing.
    – hasen
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 5:18
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    @hasen not quite; naïve foreigners will generally stick to one pitch melody based on the stress/accent rules of their mother tongue. Japanese speaker pronunciation vary within the same dialect (ever notice how even the NHK prescriptive guide show multiple accents for various words)? Further, accent patterns are changing fast, especially in compounds. Even within same-dialect natives, their success rate in picking up the accent is ~70% at best. And there are zero-accent areas like southern Tōhoku. Commented May 29, 2018 at 9:20
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    @hasen also, note that the accent corresponces between dialects are unpredictable. Tokyo inú is Tōhoku inú, but Tokyo murá is Tōhoku mura (unaccented); same for tikará vs. musumé/musume. The explanation has to do with the Middle Japanese tone classes, but from a modern point of view, pitch between dialects vary in unpredictable ways. Commented May 29, 2018 at 9:23

I don't think there's a way to learn the pitch patterns except for listening to a lot of material. It's not something you can really memorize, you just have to absorb it via osmosis.

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