Distinctive Features

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Distinctive Features


the properties of linguistic units that distinguish these units from other units of the same level, which either do not possess the given properties or possess the opposite properties. For example, the Russian sound l’ differs from the sound / with respect to palatalization (the presence versus the absence of a property); the word form stol (table) differs from the word form stoly (tables) with respect to number (singular versus plural); and the meaning of the word chelovek (man) differs from that of the word kamen’ (rock) with respect to animateness (animate versus inanimate).

The concept of distinctive features has been most extensively developed in phonology, where it is a basic concept. Relevant and irrelevant features are distinguished: a given distinctive feature is relevant for a given phonological system if the phonemes of the given language may be contrasted with respect to this distinctive feature (thus, the feature voiced versus voiceless consonants is relevant for Russian, German, French, English, and several other languages). However, even a relevant distinctive feature may prove to be irrelevant under certain conditions, for instance, if it is conditioned by the position of the sound (the voicelessness of consonants at the end of a word is not relevant in Russian) or by characteristics of the phonological system.

The American scholars R. Jakobson, C. G. M. Fant, and M. Halle proposed a list of 12 universal binary acoustic distinctive features sufficient, in their opinion, for an exhaustive description of the phonological system of any language. The concept of distinctive features is used on other levels of linguistic structure as well and is one of the fundamental concepts of contemporary linguistics.


Trubetskoi, N. S. Osnovy fonologii. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from German.)
Bloomfield, L. lazyk. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from English.)
Jakobson, R., C. G. M. Fant, and M. Halle. Preliminaries to Speech Analysis. Cambridge, 1955. (Russian translation of part 2 in Novoe v lingvistike, issue 2. Moscow, 1962.)
Jakobson, R., and M. Halle. Fundamentals of Language. The Hague, 1956.


References in periodicals archive ?
Distinctive features Obverse: Coat of Arms, the name of the country (Sultanate of Oman), the name of Central Bank of Oman, and Denomination in Arabic and English.
This workbook for speech-language pathology students and clinicians describes phonological processes and distinctive features as a means to assess and describe error patterns in the speech of children with phonological disabilities.
Related to this definition, other two important concepts can be described (Doicin, 2002): Complex Distinctive Feature (CDF), as the distinctive feature composed by several neighbouring distinctive features (a group of adjacent DF's), connected by precedence relations and having a certain role in the activities of defining the process plans variants, and Dominant Distinctive Feature (DDF), as those distinctive feature within a Complex Distinctive Feature having the biggest dimensions, and which gives the complex feature the main characteristics from constructive point of view.
Currently, TTV and TTMV are classified as distinct species in the floating (although closely linked to the family Circoviridae) genus Anellovirus, but their extreme genetic heterogeneity and some distinctive features in genomic organization have led some to suggest that they should be classified as an independent family (2,3).
Even low-cost producers must have distinctive features and functions or the consumer will go elsewhere.
The board told teachers to refer students to Of Pandas and People, a text favored by many creationists that defines ID as the belief "that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact--fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.
One of its most distinctive features is its many lakes and waterways.
The demonstration confirms that Platel is adamant about preserving the distinctive features of French schooling like epaulement and deportment, harking back to ballet's aristocratic origins.
Many distinctive features in the way divorce is handled in Japan today can be explained by examining early modern practices.
The room's most distinctive features include a wood marquetry panel of the North Atlantic, where passengers could once track the ship's progress, and a faded tapestry depicting English country life (the Queen Mary 2 continues this tradition in its Britannia Restaurant with a towering tapestry of the QM2's prow).
The distinctive features of the various types of dies are described in detail.
One of the Discovery's distinctive features has gone, however.