A locus equation plots the frequency of the second formant at vowel onset against the target frequency of the same formant for the vowel in a consonant–vowel sequence, across different vowel contexts. It has generally been assumed that the slope of the locus equation reflects the degree of coarticulation between the consonant and the vowel, with a steeper slope showing more coarticulation. This study examined the articulatory basis for this assumption. Four subjects participated and produced VCV sequences of the consonants /b, d, g/ and the vowels /i, a, u/. The movements of the tongue and the lips were recorded using a magnetometer system. One articulatory measure was the temporal phasing between the onset of the lip closing movement for the bilabial consonant and the onset of the tongue movement from the first to the second vowel in a VCV sequence. A second measure was the magnitude of the tongue movement during the oral stop closure, averaged across four receivers on the tongue. A third measure was the magnitude of the tongue movement from the onset of the second vowel to the tongue position for that vowel. When compared with the corresponding locus equations, no measure showed any support for the assumption that the slope serves as an index of the degree of coarticulation between the consonant and the vowel.

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