distinctive feature n.
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Distinctive Feature. An Animated and Narrated Glossary of Terms used in Linguistics presents. Guessing Game. I’m thinking of something. Ask me 10 yes-no questions to guess at what I’m thinking. Is it a living thing? Is it an animal? Is it a herbivore? Is it a carnivore? Is it wild?

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distinctive feature

Distinctive Feature

An Animated and Narrated Glossary of Terms used in Linguistics

presents

guessing game
Guessing Game

I’m thinking of something. Ask me 10 yes-no questions to guess at what I’m thinking.

Is it a living thing?

Is it an animal?

Is it a herbivore?

Is it a carnivore?

Is it wild?

Is it mammalian?

Is it feline?

Does it have patterns on its hide?

Does it have a mane?

Is it a LION?

YES

YES

NO

YES

YES

YES

YES

NO

YES

YES

Slide 2

features as description
Features as Description

By asking those questions earlier, we arrive at a description of an object that has the following features:

+living

+animate

-herbivore

+carnivore

-domesticated

+mammal

+feline

-spots/stripes

+mane

=

Slide 3

features in phonetics phonology
Features in Phonetics & Phonology

I’m thinking of a phone. Ask me a maximum of 10 yes-no questions to guess at what I’m thinking.

Is it a consonant?

Do you use your lips?

Do you use the tip of your tongue?

Does air flow out of the nose?

Does air flow out of the mouth?

Does air flow out from the centre of the mouth?

Does air flow smoothly?

Do vocal folds vibrate?

Is the tongue curled upwards?

Is it [  ]?

= [+consonantal]

YES

= [-labial]

NO

= [+coronal]

YES

NO

= [-nasal]

YES

= [-stop]

NO

= [+lateral]

YES

= [+sonorant]

YES

= [+voice]

YES

= [+retroflex]

YES!!

Slide 4

features in phonetics phonology1
By asking those questions earlier, we arrive at a description of a phone that has the following features:Features in Phonetics & Phonology

+consonantal

-labial

+coronal

-nasal

-stop

+lateral

+sonorant

+voice

+retroflex

= [ ]

Slide 5

slide6

Features in Phonetics & Phonology

In phonology, Distinctive Features are categories used for characterizing a natural class of phones/segments.

Depending on one’s analytical framework,

  • Set of features and their definitions differ
  • Features may be binary or privative
features and classes
Features and Classes

[+coronal]

[+labial]

t d

s z

n

k g

x

ŋ

p b

f v

m

u y

o œ

 

m

[+nasal]

i

e

a

[+sonorant]

[-consonantal]

[+front]

Slide 7

beyond phonology
Beyond Phonology

Use of features is not restricted to phonology (or even linguistics).

  • Case assignment is sensitive to [animate] of NP in Malayalam
  • Whether or not an NP subject is [singular] affects the form of a verb and vice versa
  • In Malay, passivization is possible only if the internal argument of the verb is [affected].
  • Adverbs of volition are possible only if the external argument of the verb is [volitional]
the end

The End

Wee, Lian-Hee and Winnie H.Y. Cheung (2009)

An animated and narrated glossary of terms used in Linguistics. Hong Kong Baptist University.