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 ...

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