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How reliable is computerized intonation as a learning tool?

healer

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I would like to learn of comments from learners of Japanese language and even native speakers who would care to put in on this topic.

Being a self-study person I use translation software on the web a lot. I am aware the translation is sometimes way off which is understandable. However I suspect their pronunciation is not reliable either.

I don't live in a Japanese-speaking environment, neither do I have Japanese-speaking friend. So I have hoped the software would help to some extent, especially in terms of intonation and pitch accent of words.

However I've sensed that the audio presentation of Japanese sentences or words is not quite up to scratch. I've expected a pause in a long sentence, if there is, would be reasonably placed between words or phrases not anywhere it likes. Besides I often found long vowels like えい is not read as ええ but えい phonetically. The same applies to おう and so on.

I've experienced similar situation at some podcast web site. Perhaps production in big quantity results in computer-aided system which is not too perfect for human languages.

I've found some of the audio DVDs that comes with textbooks also exhibit similar phenomenon. I am not too sure if that is a local dialect. However being a textbook, I would have thought standard Japanese should be used throughout.
 

Toritoribe

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You can believe audio DVDs. They use standard Japanese. えい could be pronounced as えい, not えー, especially when it's said slowly or carefully. In other words, the long vowel えー and double vowel えい are both possible for えい. The same goes to other long vowels.
e.g.
あー vs. ああ
母さん: かーさん or かあさん

いー vs. いい
黄色: きーろ or きいろ

うー vs. うう
空中: くーちゅー or くうちゅう

おー vs. おう
王国: おーこく or おうこく
おー vs. おお
氷: こーり or こおり
(Note that おお is not pronounced as おう in the last case. Thus, 氷 is not pronounced as こうり.)

As for intonation or pitch accent, I believe there is no software that pronounces them perfectly correctly. Or, I would say they are terribly bad in many cases.
 

healer

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Thanks for your kindness and patience with me.

Are you saying standard Japanese of えい has え and い read discretely but continuously without a pause instead of ええ? So is おう? I'm surprised that the textbook only mentions えー and おー respectively. When we say えー and おー, おお and こお as in こおり, ああ and うう do we say one sound but lengthen twice in duration or do we say two kana's discretely without a pause?

I gather you said おお is not read as おう, but it is possible the other way round in standard Japanese.

I don't expect any software has the pronunciation of every possible combination of wording recorded by human being and then reproduced when queried. I have expected they have the smallest unit recorded, in this case a kana and then reproduced after having them assembled together upon the query. That's why I suspected it wasn't done by human being but a computer when I heard えい for えい instead of ええ that I have learnt.

Thanks for your help!
 

Toritoribe

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Are you saying standard Japanese of えい has え and い read discretely but continuously without a pause instead of ええ? So is おう?
If you mean a double vowel by ええ, not a long vowel, yes. えい is not pronounced as the double vowel ええ. 経営(けいえい) is usually けーえー, could be sometimes けいえい, but not けえええ. Similarly, 法王(ほうおう) is ほーおー not ほおおお (ほうおう is rare for this word, I think).

Double vowels are possible, but long vowels are more common, anyway.

When we say えー and おー, おお and こお as in こおり, ああ and うう do we say one sound but lengthen twice in duration or do we say two kana's discretely without a pause?
It's the former.
 
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