, distributed is a binary feature
that marks whether a sound is made with a broad or narrow contact (or approach) of the tongue
to the solid parts of the mouth. It is a subdivision of the [Coronal
The term was introduced into phonology by Chomsky and Halle in their The Sound Pattern of English (1968), commonly referred to as SPE. They had a major feature [coronal] but needed to break it down into four distinct places of articulation, so they used two more binary features [anterior] and [distributed].
In articulatory terms [+distributed] corresponds to the laminal consonants, those made with the blade of the tongue. These have a relatively long region front to back where the tongue either contacts or approaches the top of the mouth, giving a less sharp airflow. Distributed sounds normally include the dental series (English th) and the postalveolar (sh ch j). The [-distributed] sounds correspond to the apical ones, made with the tip of the tongue, and include alveolars such as English t d s z n l. In most languages dental sounds are lamino-dental and alveolars are apico-alveolar.
In computing and related areas, distributed refers to a method of parcelling out task
s among multiple systems and getting results back from them, with no one machine or system
crucially in charge. It has also been extended to Project Gutenberg
's world-wide collaborative proofreading project, called Distributed Proofreading