Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

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Saim
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Saim » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:20 am

Daniel N. wrote:I don't think anyone in Serbia stresses Jugoslavija on o.


My grandmother does. :lol: In theory it's the standard form.
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Daniel N. » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:52 pm

Saim wrote:
Daniel N. wrote:I don't think anyone in Serbia stresses Jugoslavija on o.


My grandmother does. :lol: In theory it's the standard form.


Then she's likely from a small village in Western Serbia or more likely from Herzegovina, parts of Montenegro or even Dalmatia (esp. Dubrovnik area)
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Saim » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:55 pm

Daniel N. wrote:Then she's likely from a small village in Western Serbia or more likely from Herzegovina, parts of Montenegro or even Dalmatia (esp. Dubrovnik area)


Nije iz istočnohercegovačkog dijalektskog prostora, nego iz Beograda. Mislim da je hiperkorektnost u pitanju: Jugòslāvija je jedini izgovor koji se pojavlja na Hrvatskom jezičnom portalu i Srpskijezik.com, a naučili su me na Novosadskom Univerzitetu da je to zapravo "ispravni" oblik (prema novoštokavskim akcenatskim pravilima), ali i da se dosta retko upotrebljava. U pravu si da bi gotovo svako pre rekao Jugoslávija.

She's from Belgrade, not the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect area. She's probably just being hypercorrect -- both Hrvatski jezični portal and Srpskijezik.com list Jugòslāvija as the only pronunciation, and when I was taking Serbian classes at the University of Novi Sad I was taught this is the "correct" pronunciation (as it follows proper New Štokavian intonation rules) but that it's also rather uncommon. You're right that almost everyone says Jugoslávija.
Last edited by Saim on Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Daniel N. » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:53 pm

Saim wrote:She's from Belgrade, not the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect area. She's probably just being hypercorrect --


Does she also say telèvizija?
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Daniel N. » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:54 am

Denzagathist wrote:Thus, there could be said to be two standard prosodic systems operating simultaneously within Croatia, for example: the standard pan-BCMS system, and that of the Zagreb dialect, which has actually eliminated all accentual contrasts other than stress. The good news is that it might actually be easier to pick up a local accentual system since the vast majority of regional dialects have reduced the number of pitch accents distinguished.


This is exactly what I've decided to do in Easy Croatian - these two systems side by side, and let the learner decide which one to follow. This also offered some a bit unexpected benefits.

Denzagathist wrote:I'm more familiar with the distinctions within Croatia, but I'm fairly certain that this is true of Serbia too. I believe that only the Posavina region of Slavonia has a more complicated prosodic inventory (with five pitch accents).


There are parts of Dalmatia where the system is essentially like in Slavonia = the four standard "accents" (two tones, actually) and another "accent", the "neoacute", an additional tone on some long vowels.

There are remote villages in Bosnia where even more distinctions can be found. There's a monumental book about the history of Croatian accent (actually, about generally South Slavic, Slavic and even further) written by Mate Kapović, available online, where such issues are discussed in great depth Povijest hrvatske akcentuacije (PDF)

BTW I would like to read at least the summary of your thesis.

Denzagathist wrote:Before I start going into a whole lot more detail, let me just make my recommendation. You need to first decide your priority, whether that be learning the standard/"correct" pitch accents, or sounding natural, because in most cases those two options are mutually exclusive. If you want to sound standard, then go ahead and study the official rules for pitch accents (I haven't ever tried to do this myself, so I don't have any suggestions for how to go about doing so).


The rules are not the problem. The problem is that in some cases, the standard stress in a word is used by a very, very small fraction of people. If you go to Serbian language-related Facebook groups (I mean, where natives discuss the language), there are constantly complaints "what is going on on the TV", since people hear some words pronounced like nobody around them does, and it puzzles people for years, even decades. They hear stress from the dictionary, something they never hear in the real life.

I met a woman once who is born in the Rijeka region and now lives in Zagreb, and she knows I'm interested into languages, and she asked me, when did they change the stress on the word sapun (soap)? She started hearing it stressed on the 1st syllable on TV (likely in some commercial), while she was hearing from childhood only the (non-standard) stress on the 2nd syllable - how almost everyone in Rijeka and Zagreb regions speaks. Of course, she has no tones at all in her speech, just a dynamic stress (one syllable is louder and a bit higher).

So, "BCMS" is actually very diverse.

Edited: grammar
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Saim » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:43 am

Hello everyone! Thanks again for all your responses. One of my main problems with pitch accent was that I didn't even know where to start, so your input was very useful. Here's a little update on how my pitch accent studies are going. Long story short: it's not as hard as I first thought but it takes a lot of time to sink in.

Personally I found pitch accent frustrating to study at first, because it's not something you can learn to reproduce or even learn to perceive in one study session, and in fact you're not likely to notice any improvements at all in a single session; in that sense it seems like a sort of microcosm of language acquisition in general. You have to gradually soak it up over many months of paying attention to it, or at least that's been my experience. I've come to the point in my pitch accent perception where I honestly can't unhear it and can often tell when I'm pronouncing the wrong pitch in a word, and it's kind of absurd to me that I at some point wasn't able to perceive it. I guess part of the trick to it is that the two accents are not single values on a discrete scale, but two contrasted ranges of values on a continuous scale, so you have to train yourself to reliably categorise speech into that range rather than noticing single discrete tones on a sort of musical scale. This is probably obvious to anyone who's dealt with tones and phonemic pitch before, but starting out I definitely felt like I was trying to catch single tones on a discrete scale rather than retune my ear to hear two ranges on a scale, which made the experience more frustrating than it needed to be.

Now, for Serbo-Croatian specifically, at least in my experience one of the main breakthroughs was being able to notice the falling accent specifically. I think I had acquired the rising accent as the default form of BSCM intonation and had only acquired the falling accent in certain contexts like vocatives and imperatives, analysing pitch as pragmatic rather than phonemic in nature (and of course I did, I'm an English speaker and that's what we use pitch for). Thus I think a good approach to start with could be to actively train your ear for the falling accent specifically, rather than accurately trying to notice all of the accents in a given sentence.

One good thing is that I already knew where the stress falls in the negated present forms of most verbs, which gives away the pitch: prȁtim, nè pratim (falling accent, the negation takes the accent and makes it rising) and prìja, ne prìja (rising accent, the accent stays on the conjugated verb). This made dealing with verbs a bit more straightforward.

Another thing I've observed (maybe I'm wrong) is that when a word takes on sentence-level stress, i.e. the word itself is emphasised, the phonemic pitch is generally more obvious. So when you're talking to BCSM natives it can be good to keep your ears peeled for those moments when they're emphasising individual words. In dubbed cartoons for children they also emphasise the intonation quite a lot so it doesn't make you go crazy it might be useful to listen to something like that (I found clips from Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh on YouTube, for example), it helped me a lot in the early-to-middle stages of training perception.

Now that my perception of pitch is fairly good, my work still isn't done, because you need to assign pitch to a very large amount of lexical items. What I'm going to be doing is:

1. Keep paying attention to pitch when listening to Serbian, occasionally looking things up in the dictionary to test my perception.
2. Get my mum to record a short paragraph from a book I liked 2-4 times a month and note down the pitch, then correct it based on the dictionary. Then listen to the recording several times.
3. Make Anki cards with recordings out of TV shows and YouTube videos, but only out of new words. In most media I don't come across that many new words any more so it's not that much effort, especially since Serbian is my main focus at the moment, and having recordings in my deck that I hear again and again helps quite a lot I think.

I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like shadowing or chorusing, I like repetitive listening without trying to repeat what they say and then doing self-talk when it comes to me spontaneously. You can't really hear yourself while listening to input so I find it kind of pointless and frustrating. Maybe if I recorded myself while shadowing it would work.

Daniel N. wrote:I don't think anyone in Serbia stresses Jugoslavija on o.


I've been paying a lot of attention to stress and pitch so I've noticed this pronunciation now a number of times. I don't think I've ever heard anyone in real life (other than my grandmother) stress Jugoslavija that way, but it's fairly common on TV. Here the President of Serbia pronounces it this way: https://youtu.be/3V_8FyTPbqs?t=390, and here the sociologist Jovo Bakić does as well: https://youtu.be/hJtQEJsm2FY?t=4736. It's an affected pronunciation, but it seems it's not uncommon among people involved in the media, politics or education.
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby NIKOLIĆ » Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:22 pm

I've been watching videos on pitch accent in Serbian because I never paid much attention to it besides in high school when we were quizzed on it. I noticed that these vowels sound like distinct vowels to me. I'm not talking about falling vs. rising, but the actual sound of the vowel before any change in pitch occurs. (Is that what I'm hearing and is that what pitch actually is?). I could be wrong here so please do correct me.

(first word short rising, second word short falling)
vòda - vòdu
zèmlja - zèmlju
zòra - zòru
sèstra - sèstru

I'm on my phone right now, but I'll make a recording soon and post it.

https://soundcloud.com/nikolic993/pitch-mp3

Edit: I'd be willing to make some recordings for you if you don't want to bother your mom. Just shoot me a PM.
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Dragon27 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:17 pm

NIKOLIĆ wrote:(first word short rising, second word short falling)
vòda - vòdu

Aren't they both short rising, judging by the identical diacritics over "o" (I don't know if those are correct, since I don't know Serbian)?
Try to contrast "vòda" (singular, short rising) and "vȍde" (plural, short falling).

As far as I know, in standard/neutral Serbian there is some difference in the quality of long and short vowels, but not in the vowels with different pitch accent of the same length. Then again, different dialects could implement these phonemic differences in their own way.
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby NIKOLIĆ » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:03 am

Dragon27 wrote:
NIKOLIĆ wrote:(first word short rising, second word short falling)
vòda - vòdu

Aren't they both short rising, judging by the identical diacritics over "o" (I don't know if those are correct, since I don't know Serbian)?
Try to contrast "vòda" (singular, short rising) and "vȍde" (plural, short falling).
I wrote that post on my phone and I couldn't find the second one, that's why I wrote it in parentheses.
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Re: Learning pitch accent? [Serbo-Croatian]

Postby Saim » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:45 pm

NIKOLIĆ wrote:I've been watching videos on pitch accent in Serbian because I never paid much attention to it besides in high school when we were quizzed on it. I noticed that these vowels sound like distinct vowels to me. I'm not talking about falling vs. rising, but the actual sound of the vowel before any change in pitch occurs. (Is that what I'm hearing and is that what pitch actually is?). I could be wrong here so please do correct me.

(first word short rising, second word short falling)
vòda - vȍdu
zèmlja - zȅmlju
zòra - zȍru
sèstra - sȅstru

I'm on my phone right now, but I'll make a recording soon and post it.

https://soundcloud.com/nikolic993/pitch-mp3


(I've taken the liberty of adding the falling accent marks here to the accusative froms since I'm on my laptop, you're right that it's often a hassle to type them out).

You definitely pronounce the vowels more closed in the accusative forms than in the nominative forms, but I don't think this is universal in Serbia and might be subject to some regional variation. I think in Novi Sad and Belgrade both vowels would be open in your examples (although of course there are similar variations in other words, like voz ~ voza > [voz] ~ [vɔza]), I have a sense your pronunciation might be a characteristic of Banat and some other regions. I've noticed that in Belgrade they sometimes have open/short vowels where in Novi Sad it's generally pronounced closed/long, so there's probably a lot of this sort of variation throughout the Vojvodinian-Šumadian language area.

Here is a kid from (I think?) Novi Sad, and when he says, voda, vodu, vode all I hear is the open (short) vowel [ɔ].

https://youtu.be/AH65TQM8mP4?t=333

And here's some pedagogical material where they're using a "standard" accent:

https://youtu.be/OTT9GUf5gh8?t=251

There I don't hear any difference in vowel quality in the nominative and accusative forms.

Now, the only thing that I'm not sure about is whether you're pronouncing those closed vowels long, that's a bit harder for me to hear; generally in Serbian (or at the very least around Vojvodina and Belgrade), short vowels are a bit more open and long vowels are a bit more closed. Maybe if you recorded some examples where either the standard or Novi Sad have long vowels it would be easier for me to compare.

By the way, this may seem like a kind of random question, but have you seen the show Vratiće se rode? When I was watching it I was kind of curious how authentic the accents of the "local" characters were, it seemed like some of them were giving it more of a shot than others.

Edit: I'd be willing to make some recordings for you if you don't want to bother your mom. Just shoot me a PM.


Oh, thanks, that's really nice of you to offer. I'll send you something one of these days then. :)
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