A component of speech sounds in recent phonological theories. Elements, as opposed to binary features, do not have values, but are either present or absent from the specification of a sound. Elements may be subordinated to other elements. For example: e is specified as containing the two elements I and A, but with the latter subordinate to the former. ɛ contains the same two elements, but the former is subordinate to the latter. The elements used for vowel specification are: I: indicating palatality, A: indicating openness, U: indicating labiality and @: indicating centrality. The same elements are also used for consonant specification and are accompanied by others, such as ?: indicating stop, h: indicating friction, and R: indicating coronality.
Also called unary feature.