Interacting segmental and syllabic constraints in the acquisition of Dutch and German

Researcher on the project:

Nicole Altvater-Mackensen defended her thesis 'Do manners matter: Asymmetries in the acquisition of manner of articulation features' on September 27, 2010. She is now a post-doctoral researcher in the Free Floater Nachwuchsgruppe - Spracherwerb of Nivi Mani at the Georg-August-Universität of Göttingen.

Nicole Altvater-Mackesen



This research investigates the acquisition of syllable structure in Dutch and German and its interaction with segmental constraints.

The research will describe various stages of development of syllable structure and relates this to the structure of the intake lexicon (targeted words). The hypothesis is that although adult Dutch and German have similar syllable structure constraints, the different segmental distributions in the two languages give rise to different developmental patterns, which ultimately have consequences for the adult phonological system. It furthermore aims to provide insight into the nature of the syllable in the mental lexicon by investigating whether 'deletion' of syllable positions in child language is compensated for. The method of research consists of (a) phonological analysis of target words, (b) production experiments, and (c) perception experiments.

A more elaborate description of the project can be downloaded here
This project ran from February 2006 until December 2009.


Altvater-Mackensen, N. & P. Fikkert (2010). 'The acquisition of the stop-fricative contrast in perception and production'. Lingua 120: 1898–1909.

Langeslag, J., Altvater-Mackensen, N. & Fikkert, P. (2008): Bringing together perception and production: the stop-fricative contrast in the acquision of Dutch. Poster presented at IASCL, July 2008. Edinburgh, UK.

Fikkert, P., van der Feest, S. & Altvater-Mackensen, N. (2008): Perception of the stop-fricative contrast in early word learning. Poster presented at ICIS, March 2008. Vancouver, Canada.

Nicole Altvater-Mackensen & Paula Fikkert (2007). On the Acquisition of Nasals in Dutch and German. Linguistics in the Netherlands 2007.


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