emic and etic

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emic and etic

a distinction originating from LINGUISTICS (Pike, 1967), but now widely used in sociology and anthropology between accounts made from a perspective indigenous or internal to a language or social situation (an emic account), and those made from a perspective external to the language or social context, including sociological observers' accounts (etic accounts). See also MEANINGFUL UNDERSTANDING, HERMENEUTICS, FORMS OF LIFE.

The original distinction stems from the linguistic terms phonemic and phonetic.

Whereas a phonemic account rests on the speaker's own recognition of patterns of sound, phonetic accounts are based on the observer's model and measurement of these differences.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
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