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Examples phrases:

  • 料理自体
  • みそ自体
  • アメリカ自体
  • 鼻自体
  • 男自体
  • 食べたこと自体

My intuition is that the noun and 自体 are said as two separate words, both of their accents being preserved. (I guess this would make sense grammatically...?) Is this correct?

Is there any strong, predictable tendency? Are certain combinations more prone to the initial word losing its accent?

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  • I've only heard it accented as if A自体 is one word (rising after first phoneme and then falling at たい). ( Then again, I'm not very sensitive with intonations.) Can you give an example (video or sth) where they are pronounced separately? – deeeeekun Apr 5 at 5:42
  • I've found this example (youtu.be/mmZG6ITXf_8?t=245) where you can hear them say 考え自体 as one word, falling down at じたい (I thought it would have been at たい). If they were pronounced as separate words, there should be two falling tones because 考え falls down at え (gavo.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ojad/search/index/sortprefix:accent/…) – deeeeekun Apr 5 at 6:34
  • @deeeeekun Sadly I can't watch that video due to region lock. I went through about 75 examples on ([youglish.com](youglish.com)) and found that it was all over the place. However, I noticed that formal recordings and people from Tokyo were more likely to say them separately. I asked two acquaintances from Tokyo and Saitama (in their 30s) to say a dozen examples and they completely preferred preserving the accent of the first word. They did say flat + ⤵︎たい sounds totally acceptable in many of the cases, but they wouldn't say it. One said it feels like saying, 彼氏‾‾ (no accent). – tresni Apr 5 at 14:53
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    I personally hear that is pronounced かんがえじたい【LHHLHLL】, not かんがえじたい【LHHHHLL】. – naruto Apr 5 at 16:03
  • One could say the accent is lost when the first noun is odaka, but it’s preserved in other cases, yes. – Darius Jahandarie Apr 5 at 16:24
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自体 is not a suffix but an independent word, so you pronounce them as two separate words, like:

  • りょうりじたい【HLLLHLL】
  • みそじたい【HLHLL】
  • アメリカじたい【LHHHHLL】
  • はなじたい【LHHLL】
  • おとこじたい【LHHHLL】
  • たべたことじたい【HLLLHHLL】 or たべたことじたい【HLLLLHLL】

In other words, 自体 has nothing to do with this phenomenon.

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  • 2
    +1. Though it’s worth noting that when the first noun is accented, due to terracing, the second accent kernel (じ) is pronounced lower than the first one (unless it’s being emphasized). So using a four-step notation (4 is highest, 1 is lowest) it’d be something like りょうりじたい 422311 in a neutral reading. – Darius Jahandarie Apr 5 at 16:20
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    That's seems to be the case. But with 男自体, I gathered that it would be at least as common to have a fall from こ to じ (尾高 preserved), if not more common in Tokyo Japanese. What do you think? – tresni Apr 5 at 17:30
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    (Hope naruto responds too, but) in general, an odaka word directly followed by an atamadaka word will lose the odaka accent. 花切った はなき\った – Darius Jahandarie Apr 5 at 18:06
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Actually, both separated (みそ{HL}じたい{HLL}) and compound (みそじたい{LHHLL}; fall on じ) accents are heard, though the latter is arguably colloquial. The same applies to ~自身.

There is no apparent tendency in usage as I observe, except that the separated accent sounds more like an emphasis, so it is (slightly) more suitable for saying "the very —" than "— proper". (The same effect can be achieved by stressing 自体 when there is no accent change.)

When you use the compound accent, the last accent block before 自体 is under its dependent scope, which is the last noun or everything after the last verb/adjective.

脱出を考えなければいけないこと自体

In this case, いけないことじたい{LHHHHHHLL} usually makes one accent phrase.

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