I notice in the pitch / stress or whatever it's oKAA-san and oTOU-san but then it's Oba-san and Oji-san. Why?

I'm not so familiar with this LH HL thing but I think it's:

お母【LH】, お父【LH】

おじ【HL】, おば【HL】

  • 2
    You're hearing at least some of them wrong and there's no why about these things.
    – aguijonazo
    Jan 22, 2023 at 22:24
  • [おかあ]{LHL} [おとう]{LHL}、[おじ]{LH} [おば]{LH} ですよ。
    – chocolate
    Jan 23, 2023 at 2:12

2 Answers 2


it's oKAA-san and oTOU-san but then it's Oba-san and Oji-san.

お母【LH】, お父【LH】

おじ【HL】, おば【HL】

I think these are incorrect, I'm afraid. In Standard Japanese:

[おかあさん]{LHLLL} [おとうさん]{LHLLL} [おばさん]{LHHH} [おじさん]{LHHH}
i.e. oKAa-san, oTOu-san, oBA-SAN, oJI-SAN

[おかあ]{LHL} [おとう]{LHL}*

[おじ]{LH} [おば]{LH}

*おかあさん, おとうさん, おねえさん, おばあさん etc. are お+かあさん, お+とうさん, お+ねえさん, お+ばあさん (prefix お is attached to かあさん etc.), rather than おかあ+さん, おとう+さん, おねえ+さん, おばあ+さん (suffix さん is attached to おかあ, おねえ etc.)

By the way, (as you may know,) the pitch of the suffix ~さん depends on the pitch of the final sound (or mora?) of the preceding word:

[さとう]{HLL} + さん → [さとうさん]{HLLLL}
[たかはし]{LHLL} + さん → [たかはしさん]{LHLLLL}
[ひろこ]{HLL} + さん → [ひろこさん]{HLLLL}


[すずき]{LHH} + さん → [すずきさん]{LHHHH}
[やまもと]{LHHH} + さん → [やまもとさん]{LHHHHH}
[ひろみ]{LHH} + さん → [ひろみさん]{LHHHH}

In the same way...

(お) + [かあ]{HL} + さん → ([お]{L})[かあさん]{HLLL}  
[おば]{LH} + さん → [おばさん]{LHHH}

In reply to DJ's comment:

The pitch of [おばさん]{LHHH} and [おじさん]{LHHH} change to [おばさん]{HLLL} and [おじさん]{HLLL} when they're attached to a name:

[ひろこ]{HLL} + [おばさん]{LHHH} → [ひろこおばさん]{LHHHLLL}
[たろう]{HLL} + [おじさん]{LHHH} → [たろうおじさん]{LHHHLLL}

  • I think it would be good to mention the name+おばさん case since the accent does change there and is probably what the OP was hearing. It doesn’t change for many things like name+社長 and name+先生 so the situation is probably quite confusing for beginners. Jan 23, 2023 at 22:14
  • 1
    @Darius, ありがとうございます。追加してみました。
    – chocolate
    Jan 24, 2023 at 5:44

I think most Japanese would say obaSAn ojiSAn or obasaN ojisaN, though [name]-obasan and [name]-ojisan would be [namE]-Obasan and [namE]-Ojisan.
But I think this is usual thing.

  • 2
    [ステラ]{HLL}+[おばさん]{LHHH}→[ステラおばさん]{LHHHLLL} になりますよ。[きょうと]{HHLL}+[だいがく]{LHHH}→[きょうとだいがく]{LLHHHLLL} みたいに。
    – chocolate
    Jan 23, 2023 at 1:51
  • 1
    @EiríkrÚtlendi はい、そうですね、[おばさん]{LHHH} [しょせき]{LLHH} ですね。obaSAn ojiSAn or obasaN ojisaN は変ですね、[おばさん]{LHHH} [おじさん]{LHHH} なので。他にも denWA onNA は変ですね、[でんわ]{LHH} [おんな]{LHH} ですし。
    – chocolate
    Jan 23, 2023 at 2:24
  • 1
    @EiríkrÚtlendi 雨女, 糸電話, 電子書籍 are all valid compounds tho…? They are even listed in dictionaries. ステラおばさん is harder to make a grammatical statement about, but it behaves like a compound phonetically. This answer is perfectly fine, just a misunderstanding about notation probably. Jan 23, 2023 at 2:58
  • 2
    「陣地」[じんち]{HLL}は JInchi 、関西弁の [テレビ]{LHL} は teREbi 、というふうに表記する、という話ですね。標準語の「電話」は [でんわ]{LHH} なのに、なぜ deNWA ではなく denWA となるのかわかりませんが… denWA だと [でんわ]{LLH} みたいで変な感じが・・
    – chocolate
    Jan 23, 2023 at 3:14
  • 1
    All of 大辞林、大辞泉、三省堂国語辞典、新明解国語辞典、明鏡国語辞典、岩波国語辞典、NHKアクセント辞典 include 電子書籍 as a headword as well. You should update your dicts! :-) Jan 23, 2023 at 22:18

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