Nouns: Suffix (Case A)

snphan | Nov. 24, 2021, 1:13 a.m.

Hey everyone! Welcome back 👋, it's been a while. I actually started to write this post quite a while back, but felt like it wouldn't be complete without an accompanying Suffix Dictionary of sorts. So, I whipped together a searchable pitch accent dictionary for both words and suffixes that you can find here. Feel free to refer to it throughout the post! With that, let's jump right in 🚀.

Last time we looked at compound nouns where the last noun has 3-4 morae. In this post and next post, we will be looking at suffixes (1-2 mora(e) with typically only one kanji). These look like å­¦, èªž or 者. Even though some nouns may have only 1-2 mora(e), they don't fall under the suffix category according to the NHK日本語発音アクセント新辞典1. Rather, they would follow the patterns in the post with 3~4 Morae (recall that for 中高型対外 the pitch drops on the first mora of the last noun and for 中高型, we drop where the last noun's pitch drops). An example of these last nouns is 価値・かち(1): 2 morae but noun compounds that have 価値 at the end of it would drop on the first mora of 価値 since 価値 is 中高型対外. Just looking at the suffix dictionary in NHK日本語発音アクセント新辞典, you will find that a vast majority of "suffixes" aren't suffixes at all. Instead, they are treated as nouns and follow the patterns described in the last two posts. 800+ entries were whittled down to about 230 entries that can be categorized as an actual suffix. All of these suffixes can be found in the Suffix Dictionary. On initialization of the suffix dictionary, you will find suffixes that I thought were pretty common. 

With the definition of a suffix out of the way, let's look at the first case, Case A or 前部末. Any compound nouns with a Case A Suffix will drop at the end of the previous noun. Let's look at some examples: 

Suffix Word Pitch Accent Pitch Number
飴 ちとせ飴 ちとせあめ 3
員 公務員 こうむいん 3
駅 大阪駅 おおさかえき 4


⚠ RULE ALERT: Note that sometimes the "previous noun" will end on ん, the lengthening character ー, or a combination that ends with two vowels in a row (かい, おお, こう... it makes more sense in romaji: kai, oo, kou). It is very awkward to drop the pitch on these characters so NHK recommends offsetting the drop one mora before the end of the noun1. Let's clarify with some examples. 

Suffix Word Pitch Accent Pitch Number
機 飛行機 ひこうき 2
税 住民税 じゅうみんぜい 3
席 指定席 していせき 2
心 警戒心 けいかいしん 3

 That's it for today! Next time, let's look at Case B for compound nouns with suffixes. See you then 😁