Distinctive Features


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

REFERENCES

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.

V. V. RASKIN

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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.
He said: "London has distinctive features, including the London Underground, the relatively low level of car ownership or the relative significance of the London economy to the UK economy.
The Morris Companies completely renovated the property in 1988 and converted it into an award-winning apartment complex that retained much of its historic character and architecturally distinctive features.
Galaxy Brushes also supplies Can Brushes, Pencil Brushes, and Flat Wire Pig Brushes with distinctive features that make them the Razorback Line.
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).
But don't think for a minute that "economizing" means that people what things that are "cheap." Silverstein puts it: "When trading down, consumers still rely on their value calculus--analyzing cost, worth, brand value, design, use, and expected longevity." Even low-cost producers must have distinctive features and functions or the consumer will go elsewhere.
In this richly illustrated guide enthusiast Kerrod explains his stunning photographs of stars, galaxies, planets, and deep-sky objects then goes through the most prominent in detail, giving features, dimensions, essential detail, images, distinctive features, locations, and significant astronomical highlights.
Kitzmiller was launched after the school board in Dover, a town outside Harrisburg with just 3,600 students, voted to require the district's 9th-grade biology teachers to read to their students a four-paragraph statement advising them that evolution is a theory, "not a fact." 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." A more usual definition holds merely that ID finds some organic matter to be of "irreducible complexity" and thus not explicable as a product of evolution.
Each listing includes the company's current address, if still in business, and many offer notes on the types and distinctive features of boats each company has made or continues to make.
One of its most distinctive features is its many lakes and waterways.
"The Atlas had four distinctive features in its day.
ELS:2002 has two distinctive features. First, it is a longitudinal study, that is, the same individuals are surveyed repeatedly over time.