Intonation Pre-Test

The intonation test is important because it assesses your pitch sensitivity and your ability to categorize pitches as either high or low, a distinction that correlates with a difference in meaning in Japanese. This first test is a pre-test. After you go through the lessons in this module, there will also be a post-test, which assesses how your pitch sensitivity and pitch categorization abilities have improved.

Before you take the pre-test for Module 3, you will need a little practice with the pitch diagrams that you will see in the test. In some of the questions, you will be asked to listen to words and sentences, and to identify the pitch pattern of the underlined words. You will see several different pitch graphs, and choose the one that best fits what you heard. These questions will assess your pitch sensitivity and your ability to categorize the pitch into either high or low, which is distinctive in Japanese.

How to read the pitch diagrams

In the diagrams, we have used circles to represent the different pitches. A higher circle indicates that the pitch of the sound is high, and a lower circle indicates that the pitch of the sound is low, as shown below.

As well,

The part of the sentence you are asked to indicate the pitch pattern for will be underlined.

Practice

Let’s do some exercises. First, let’s start just by focusing on the noun.

1. あめがすきです

amega_twoonly

In this case, the first syllable of the noun, ‘あ’, is high and the second, ‘め’, is low.
So the answer is (a).

2. あめがすきです

amega_twoonly

In this case, the first syllable of the noun, ‘あ’, is low and the second, ‘め’, is high.
So the answer is (b).

Japanese speakers are sensitive to such pitch differences, because they differentiate the meaning of words: あめ (HL) means rain, while あめ (LH) means candy! (H= High pitch, L=Low pitch)

Let’s do a more challenging exercise. This time, pay attention to the pitch of the particle after the noun as well.

3. はしでたべます

2by2_hashide

In this case, the first syllable, ‘は’, is high and the second, ‘し’, is low. Both (a) and (c) fit this pattern. The difference is the pitch on the particle ‘で’. In the audio, ‘で’ has a low pitch, like ‘し’ does. So the answer is (a).

4. はしでたべます

2by2_hashide

In this case, the first syllable, ‘は’, is low and the second, ‘し’, is high. Both (b) and (d) fit this pattern.
The difference is the pitch on the particle ‘で’. In the audio, ‘で’ has a low pitch: it falls from the end of ‘し’ to ‘で’. So the answer is (b).

5. はしでたべます

2by2_hashide

In this case, the first syllable, ‘は’, is low and the second, ‘し’, is high. ‘で’ is also high: the pitch remains flat from ‘し’ to ‘で’. So the answer is (d).

Japanese speakers are sensitive not only to the pitch patterns of words, but also to whether or not the pitch falls on the particle, because it differentiates the meaning of the sentences. はしで (LHL) means “on a bridge”, while はしで (LHH) means “on an edge”.

Now you have finished your practice for the pitch diagrams in the intonation tests. To begin the pre-test, click on the link below.

QuizzesStatus

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