JFL Learners and Big Numbers: Pitch-Accent and Phrasing

Timothy J. Vance

´╗┐Japanese numbers display a bewildering variety of pitch-accent behavior, and textbooks that address this problem at all provide pitch patterns only for small numbers and for large round numbers. Most large numbers in actual conversation, of course, have to be assembled on the fly rather than retrieved from memory. Nonetheless, the pitch patterns that occur on large numbers are quite systematic. Native speakers of Japanese generally produce the same number with the same pitch pattern. Most large numbers are treated like prosodically non-unified compounds in Japanese, that is, as a single major phrase consisting of more than one accent phrase. The pitch patterns that result are strikingly different from the intonation patterns that large numbers carry in English. Not surprisingly, JFL learners who are native speakers of English typically do not produce big numbers in Japanese with anything like the native pitch patterns, which are probably beyond the threshold of what most students can learn without explicit instruction. The question that arises for teachers is whether such instruction is worth the effort.

 DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2016-1

Cite as: Vance, T.J. (2016) JFL Learners and Big Numbers: Pitch-Accent and Phrasing. Proc. ISAPh 2016 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics, 1-4, DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2016-1.

  author={Timothy J. Vance},
  title={JFL Learners and Big Numbers: Pitch-Accent and Phrasing},
  booktitle={Proc. ISAPh 2016 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics},