When you’re first learning Japanese, you’ll be told that Japanese is not a tonal language.  This is only mostly true.  While it is not tonal in the same way that Chinese is, it does have a tonal aspect.  The tones are used more as a way of accenting syllables (as English uses stress) than to actually impart meaning.  Therefore, you can be perfectly well understood as a Japanese speaker without pitch accent, but you will speak with a noticeable foreign accent.

For this reason, pitch accent generally is not taught, and this author agrees with that for the most part, at least for beginners.  This author does not agree, however, that it’s something that should just be ignored – new learners should be aware of its existence and be allowed to choose for themselves whether to pursue it.

So see this Wikipedia page for a good primer on it, and we’ll add additional resources as we discover them.

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