In this paper we draw on a linguistic model of prosodic structure and a task-dynamic model of speech gestures to account for the interplay of coarticulation and stress in English. We reinterpret results from two experiments in which articulator movements were recorded for utterances varying in pitch accept placement. In the first experiment, jaw kinematics were studied in post-nuclear unaccented and nuclear accented [pap] syllables. The kinematic patterns suggested that gestures in syllables with greater stress (nuclear accented) show less coarticulatory overlap. By contrast, the vowel's low jaw target is undershot in unaccented syllables. Two hypotheses are possible. Either the jaw is lower in stressed syllables so more energy can radiate from the mouth ("sonority expansion") or the jaw is lower to help distinguish the low vowel from other vowels ("hyperarticulation"). Another experiment differentiates the two hypotheses by examining tongue point positions in [put] preceding a [th]. In the more stressed syllables, the tongue dorsum retracts more, likely to make a more distinct back vowel. Also, the amount of assimilation of the alveolar stop to the following dental is reduced. Both results suggest hyperarticulation rather than sonority expansion. Thus, it seems that coarticulation is reduced in stressed syllables, because stressed syllables are hyperarticulated.
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