Pitch accent (lexical)

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Pitch accent refers to a kind of word-prosodic prominence of syllables in some languages (such as Japanese) where pitch change is the only cue to accent (in contrast to stress, where amplitude and duration are also important cues).


Pitch accent can also refer to a building block of an intonation contour; see pitch accent (intonational).

  • "...the term pitch accent has two distinct meanings. In one sense, it refers to the lexically specified pitch features of languages like Japanese, some Bantu languages, and some European languages including Swedish, Norwegian, and Serbo-Croatian. In the other sense...it refers to a pitch feature (normally a localised pitch movement) associated with a prominent syllable: in this sense pitch accent is simultaneously a building-block of an intonation contour and an important cue to the prominence of the syllable with which it is associated." (Ladd 1996:286)



  • Ladd, D. Robert. 1996. Intonational phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.