I rarely if ever see anything like this covered in Japanese textbooks or courses besides the hashi (bridge) vs hashi (chopstick) discussion.

Is there no system for this type of intonation, whether it actually creates a literal difference in meaning as with the hashi example, or whether it simply creates a different connotation as is shown in the video? Is there no system as there is pin yin for Chinese? Is the best way to learn this simply to repeat the Japanese you here and hope you've copied the exact some pronunciation right - is there no list of these "vocalization"/"pitch variation" things, and their meanings?


  • 1
    Many Japanese dictionaries include pitch accent information, if you just want to look it up yourself for any given word. For instance, weblio.jp It's the number in brackets next to the listing. – Leebo Feb 25 '20 at 3:49
  • Okay that's helpful but is there any list of things like what I mentioned in the video? What kind of learning source would have stuff like kaji (up) or kaji (down) and the meaning thereof explained? Like does it work for all names? What is the authority on that? etc. – Max Li Feb 25 '20 at 5:29

If you're merely interested in the current "standard" accent of Japanese words, try one of these learning resources.

The jokes in this video are based on a more advanced topic of the Japanese pitch accent, namely アクセントの平板化 ("flattening"). Briefly, it refers to the change of the pronunciation of certain words from the non-flat to the flat (or "unaccented", "monotonous") type. Many common words underwent 平板化 in the past 100 years (e.g., グラス【HLL】 → グラス【LHH】).

For some words, both non-flat and flat versions are widely used today. A good example is 彼氏; both カレシ【HLL】 and カレシ【LHH】 are common, but the latter sounds younger and informal. Flattening usually does not change the meaning of the word, but occasionally a flat version gains a different nuance. For example, クラブ【HLL】 means generic "club", but クラブ【LHH】 often refers to nightclubs. ネット【HLL】 usually refers to netting and ネット【LHH】 usually refers to the Internet.

Generally speaking, when two types of pitch accent are in use, the flat version (indicated with in your video) tends to sound younger, more slangy, jargon-like, or sometimes frivolous.

  • 解説:アクセントの平板化


  • 「アクセントがなくなると心理的距離が近くなる?ーーアクセントの「平板化」を考える」


As for 梶さん, かじさん【HLLL】 is the orthodox pronunciation. Saying かじさん【LHHH】 is not particularly strange to my ears, but if someone does this intentionally, as in the video, it sounds like they are emphasizing its frivolous, slangy or jargon-like quality. For example, at 0:05 and 1:56, guys are saying 梶裕貴じゃね⤴ , and they are mimicking a チャラ男's way of speaking. At 2:20, Kaji himself is playing the role of formal 梶さん⤵ and frivolous 梶さん⤴.

Note that all the people in this video are professional seiyu who know how 平板化 works. Ordinary people are normally unaware of this.

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