For instance, the Italian sounds [[??]] and [[??]], and Czech voiced <[??]> [??] could be described, for the beneft of English speakers, as coarticulations of [lj], [nj], and [rj], respectively.
Assimilation is sometimes confused with another linguistic term--coarticulation--largely because coarticulation has sometimes been employed in linguistic writing as more or less equivalent to assimilation.
(6.) For example, Donald Calvert's extensive discussion of assimilation in Descriptive Phonetics (New York: Tieme-Stratton, 1980) unfolds under the term coarticulation, which he defnes as "producing two sounds in sequence so that they infuence how each other is produced" (85).
On the basis of that distinctive articulation, I knew that Malayalam had at least some coarticulations, which had not been considered usual in South India.(3) The alveolar tap /r/ seemed to be just that, a single quick tap on the alveolar ridge [r].
Any variation between /r/ and /r/ is easily explainable given the coarticulations in rapid speech.
The same three features also handle coarticulations for consonants in the front part of the mouth.
In the Dravidian languages of south India, the tongue-body features of [[+ or -]high], [[+ or -]low], and [[+ or -]back] play a major role in coronal contrasts, in addition to their roles in post-alveolar contrasts and coarticulations. Part of this is not new (the retroflexes have been recognized as [+low] by numerous sources, either explicitly or by implication).
Thus, alveolar /r/ and /n/ remain uvularized in the surface phonology, providing for a fourth series of coarticulations in addition to the unmarked series.
The coarticulations that had seemed to be a phonological aberrancy in Malayalam can now be seen to be preservations, although it seems highly likely that Malayalam extended its inherited system for the dental /n/ and the palatalized voiced stops.
Note that there was a recent conference on coarticulations in India (International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 24: 149-54).