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The acquisition of the stop-fricative contrast in perception and production

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Altvater-Mackensen, N., & Fikkert, P. (2010). The acquisition of the stop-fricative contrast in perception and production. Lingua, 120(8), 1898-1909. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2010.02.010.

This paper examines whether there is an asymmetry in production and perception of the stop-fricative contrast by Dutch learning children. The development of stops and fricatives in both word-initial and post-vocalic position is studied. To investigate the acquisition of stops and fricatives in production, longitudinal spontaneous speech data of six Dutch one- to three-year-olds was analyzed. To test infants’ perception of this contrast, a series of word-learning experiments using the Switch paradigm was conducted with 62 Dutch 14-month-olds. The data show similar phonological asymmetries: in both perception and production infants treat stops differently from fricatives. Based on this phonological asymmetry we argue that (a) children use the same lexical representations for perception and production, suggesting that development in perception and production go hand in hand, that (b) early lexical representations are not specified with respect to all features, and that (c) specification does not occur in all prosodic positions at the same time.