• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Emic Versus Etic Distinction

The emic versus etic distinction suggests that some terms or concepts are specific to a culture (emics), whereas some terms or concepts are common across cultures (etics). For example, in the Japanese language, there is no distinction between the l and r sounds. The nearest equivalent sound is more like a quickly rolled r sound, so l is more foreign to the Japanese ear. Therefore, from a phonemic perspective, r is meaningful, whereas l is not. In English, Brislin cited the ng sound as being nonexistent to begin a word, whereas it is a common sound at the beginning of words in other languages.

On the other hand, from a phonetic perspective, l, r, and ng are all identifiable sounds. Linguists have compiled a list of ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles