The effect of fo fall, downstep, and secondary cues in perceiving Japanese lexical accent

Yukiko Sugiyama, C. T.Justine Hui, Takayuki Arai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Lexical pitch accent in Japanese is primarily realized as a steep fall in from an accented syllable into the following one. In addition, when a phrase that contains an accented syllable is followed by another phrase, the following phrase undergoes downstep, a compression of the range. Furthermore, while their acoustic identity is not yet clear, secondary cues to Japanese pitch accent are known to exist. The present study examined how speakers of Tokyo Japanese used acoustic information from these three sources in perceiving lexical pitch accent in Tokyo Japanese. Listeners heard stimuli in which the acoustic cues related to accent were independently manipulated and were asked to identify if a word presented sentence-medially was a final-accented word or its unaccented counterpart. Results found that listeners' judgments of words were most consistent with the presence or absence of downstep. That is, listeners identified that the preceding phrase contained an accented word when the following phrase was downstepped. Listeners also used the fall to determine if the word in question was a final-accented word or an unaccented word. Secondary cues to pitch accent were most weakly related to listeners' identification of accent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2865-2878
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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