What is the difference in the pronunciation between下 and 舌 ? I have tried to do a research and found this website with the native speakers pronouncing these words: https://forvo.com/word/%E4%B8%8B/#ja vs https://forvo.com/word/%E8%88%8C/#ja

However, when I looked at the accent dictionary (https://accent.u-biq.org/si.html) I found that the accent signs are different for these words: 下 and 舌

So my question is this: what is the difference between enter image description here


下 and 上 are not distinguished by their pitch accent; they are just pronounced differently. した and うえ respectively.

Are you perhaps thinking of 下 verses 舌 which do differ as you mentioned?.

The difference is apparent when a particle follows:

  • for 下は the accent is as [したは]{LHH}
  • for 舌は is it [したは]{LHL}

Per the comment made by @DariusJahandarie, the pitch accent for 下 is a bit more nuanced than the above. According to @DariusJahandarie, when modified, the accent pattern becomes odaka.


  • 2
    @Ilham first just write out したは; then put brackets around it [したは] followed immediately by curly brackets {}. Inside the curly bracket write H for high and L for low: [したは] {LHL} renders [したは]{LHL}
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 1 at 14:46
  • 1
    Unfortunately it’s more complicated than you laid out. 下 becomes odaka when it’s modified by something (木のした\に etc) at which point it’s indistinguishable from 舌. Sep 1 at 14:51
  • 1
    @DariusJahandarie Thank you for pointing that out. How annoying though; I feel my dictionary is misleading me. My 角川国語辞典 only indicates the pitch accent for the bare word. Where do you get the rest of the information about how the pitch changes when modified or other outside effects?
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 1 at 14:54
  • 2
    Dictionaries are notoriously bad at listing pitch accent. NHK, 新明解, and 大辞泉 happen to mention this change though. Sep 1 at 14:57
  • 1
    While the pitch accent for 下 becomes ...[したは]{LHL} when modified, the compound terms in which this happens are (usually? always?) sufficient additional context to tell. For instance, in きのした, we know that trees generally don't have tongues. 😆 Sep 1 at 17:45

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