When looking up the definition of ちょっと in a bilingual dictionary, it is given the possible pitch accent patterns of (i) atamadaka, (ii) heiban, and (iii) odaka. So which accent to use, in which context?

Attempt using NHK: Looking the word up in the NHK 2016 pitch accent dictionary provides further clues:

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Here I'm assuming ちょっとした, ちょっとみ, and ちょっとやそった are their own words/should be ignored. That leaves us with the following two options:

  1. ちょっと(その道で~は知られている). When ちょっと is being used before a は-particle, isn't it behaving as a noun? If so, NHK is saying that it should have the Odaka pattern:

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  1. ちょっと(~待ってもらいたい). When ちょっと is placed directly before a verb phrase, isn't it acting as an adverb? If so, NHK is stating it can be either Atamadaka or Heiban:

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  1. Interjections? One case that doesn't get covered by NHK is when ちょと is used as an interjection. Here, I'm just assuming it's spoken in the Atamadaka pattern?

  2. Conclusion: ちょっと is Atamadaka as an interjection, Heiban as an adverb, and Odaka when used as a noun.

Is my above reasoning correct?

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately NHK is not correct in this case, and ちょっと is pretty much always said atamadaka in both その道でちょ\っとは知られている and ちょ\っと待ってもらいたい. As for the interjection, it is also atamadaka. ちょっとした ̄ is heiban.

BTW, putting reality aside, regarding your analysis/interpretation of NHK, the one place I’d disagree is classifying ちょっと as a noun just because it is followed by は. Adverbials are often followed by は, like そうはさせない、少しはわかった、優しくはしない、 ゆっくりは話す (uncommon but possible with context), and so on. Even in the cases where it seems like you could analyze one of them as a noun (eg 少し = “some of it”), IMO these elements are still behaving as adjuncts because one can fill in the underlying arguments to the predicate, like 少しは話がわかった, which eliminates any potential reading where 少し is serving as an argument.

  • You may remember the そうは case from my answer to one of your previous questions. Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 6:09
  • Thanks as always for your clear answers. In the case of ちょっとした, should this be analyzed as its own singular word, or as just ちょっと+した, where ちょっと happens to be Heiban?
    – George
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 7:08
  • 1
    I consider ちょっとした to be its own (obviously-related-but-distinct) word, both from a semantic as well as phonetic perspective. Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 7:19

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