This dissertation investigates how Dutch children acquire the difference between voiced and voiceless stops, and how this contrast is represented in their early lexical representations. The dissertation gives an overview of recent insights on lexical representations coming from perception experiments, as well as an overview of phonological theory on voicing contrasts across different languages.
The acquisition of the Dutch voicing contrast is investigated in perception as well as production. Phonological acquisition is addressed from a theoretical phonological perspective, using psycholinguistic methods. Preferential looking perception experiments were conducted, testing the perception of voice and place contrasts in 20- and 24-month-olds. The results show asymmetries in the perception of both voice and place mispronunciations. The results of the perception and production studies combined are argued to form evidence for underspecified early lexical representations.