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I have always heard 勝手 and 勝手に pronounced as 平板. When preceded by another noun forming a compound 勝手 does seem to become 頭高, but I have recently come across 勝手で, standalone, pronounced as 頭高. Did I hear it right? (1), (2), (3) 平板 also seems to be common for 勝手で. Does the 平板 pronunciation apply only to 勝手で? What about 勝手に, 勝手な, etc.?

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Everything you linked is pronounced heiban, so you heard it wrong all three times. And re: your further question, 勝手 is always heiban.

Maybe try using this word + particle perception test to improve your ability to differentiate heiban and odaka.

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  • Seems like particles can always successfully mess up my hearing.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 28, 2022 at 0:51
  • 勝手 is atamadaka when used as a suffix (使い勝手, 好き勝手, etc.)
    – Ketchup901
    May 21, 2023 at 17:07

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