This article examines the linguistic forces at work in present-day second language and bilingual acquisition of laryngeal contrasts, and to what extent these can give us insight into the origin of laryngeal systems of Germanic voicing languages like Dutch, with its contrast between
prevoiced and unaspirated stops. The results of present-day child and adult second language acquisition studies reveal that both imposition and borrowing may occur when the laryngeal systems of a voicing and an aspirating language come into contact with each other. A scenario is explored in
which socially dominant Germanic-speaking people came into contact with a Romance-speaking population, and borrowed the Romance stop system.