In Tokyo Japanese, vowel devoicing is a common process leading to the reduction of high, unstressed vowels, mostly when they occur between unvoiced consonants. Native Japanese speakers learning German show a strong tendency to produce these devoiced vowels in the foreign language, too, despite the lack of this regular process in that language, here in German. This study examines the extent to which this reduction process leads to perception problems by German listeners, who are confronted only rarely with devoiced vowels in their native language. Results of a phoneme detection task indicate that devoiced vowels may indeed lead to perceptual difficulties. German listeners seem to refrain from reconstructing the vowel completely, which also can add to a perceived foreign accent of Japanese productions by German listeners.
Bibliographic reference. Zimmerer, Frank / Yasuda, Rei / Reetz, Henning (2013): "Architekt or archtekt? perception of devoiced vowels produced by Japanese speakers of German", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 417-420.