Tuesday, October 24, 2006

etic and emic
come from
phonetic and phonemic

I didn't think the book explained the origins of these words very well, so I looked them up to clarify the meaning for myself.

phonemic-concerning phonemes
phoneme- the smallest phonetic unit capable of conveying meaning in a language
phonetic-3.Of, relating to, or being features of pronunciation that are not phonemically distinctive in a language, as aspiration of consonants or vowel length in English.
(from Answers.com)

So phonetic sounds are ones that do not necessarily carry meaning and phonemic sounds are the smallest unit of those sounds that has meaning.
I guess what this means is that etics does not deal with meaning, a kind of analysis of a situation without regard to metadata--how it fits, meaningwise, into a particular culture. I think it is more nuanced than general vs specific but it is sort of hard to pin down exactly. The definitions on Answers.com of etic and emic deal with the lack or presence of structural information concerning place within a system.
I think that this is slightly different than how it was explained in class and perhaps how it is used in communications because those definitions were for linguistics and behavioral sciences. On the other hand, communications is a behavioral science. But I digress. In class, etics was defined as the common values between cultures, e.g. 'it is important to educate children'. Whereas emics are values native to a particular culture but not to all cultures.


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