Beginner here. I know that there are a few questions out there that deal with disambiguating spoken Japanese (in a gist, the existing answers suggest that you are able to disambiguate either based on context or pitch, or you avoid disambiguaties altogether, by adding explanations or using other words).

I'm interested here in 2 concrete examples in this question, which are tricky for me:

The first one is here (the other is in this question): "はし" which can mean chopstick or bridge. A native Japanese that I have spoken to says that you can disambiguate by pitch accent, but no matter how often I made him repeat "はし" two times, where it was first meant to be "chopstick" and the second time "bridge", I could not pick up auditively upon the difference; though he insists there is one. Could it be that the difference is too subtle, and that I simply need years of being exposed to the language in order to pick it up?

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    Try the strawberrybrown recordings of these two links. Chopsticks: forvo.com/word/%E7%AE%B8/#ja Bridge: forvo.com/word/%E6%A9%8B/#ja – user3856370 Oct 20 at 17:29
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    If it's part of a larger accent phrase, there's actually a three-way contrast, as in [はしが]{LHH} 'edge', [はしが]{HLL} 'chopsticks', and [はしが]{LHL} 'bridge'. You can't hear the downstep after し if there's no particle after it, though, so in isolation it becomes a two-way contrast: [はし]{LH} 'edge', [はし]{HL} 'chopsticks', and [はし]{LH} 'bridge'. – snailcar Oct 20 at 19:02
  • @snailcar Ok, so that solves 1). If you could turn that into an answer and add an explanation for 2), I could accept it. – l7ll7 Oct 20 at 20:34
  • @user3856370 Awesome. I didn't knew about this website. Really helpful and a good illustration regard what snailcar said. – l7ll7 Oct 20 at 20:35
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    Regarding the first question, "Go grab a musical instrument!" has always been my advice as I explained here: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/53487/… – l'électeur Oct 20 at 23:13

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