Etic and Emic
- Probably the most enduring contribution by Pike
- A bit of history, especially with Marvin Harris and Pike’s distinctions
- Two contrastive and different kinds of information
- Always tied to the observer (Pike)
- Pike’s tagmeme is a unit is context with interlocking features:
- Slot—position of part in whole (nucleus and margin)
- Class—set of substitutable items for the slot (paradigmatic)
- Role—relevance or function of the set (pragmatic; behavioral meanings)
- Cohesion—relationship to other units in a hierarchy or system
- We can think of a story in the same way:
- Where does the story occur in the culture? (men’s house, ritual, celebration)
- Are there genres that the story contrasts with? (legend, fable, parable)
- Why is the story told? (entertainment, instruction, remembrance)
- How does the story fit within the language system? (discourse style, cultural script)
- Intention and purpose are always emic—as outsiders we attempt to discover these. In the Jack tales Hicks introduces aspects of his culture to the “original” stories
- Can there be emic understanding without cultural adaptations and without cultural inside interpretation? [Example of Wopa’s story of hunting dog].
- Read “Etic and Emic Stories” (on-line at http://www.gial.edu/GIALens/vol3-2/Franklin-Etic-Emic-Stories.pdf.
- Kenneth L. Pike (see http://www.sil.org/klp/) derived the forms etic and emic from the linguistic terms phonetic and phonemic. In phonology, what is distinction between the forms?
- What are some of the ways that we can utilize the concepts of etic and emic in thinking about stories?
- Why does Pike describe etic as basically cross cultural and emic as mono-cultural?
- What, according to Harris, is “scientific” about etic classifications?
- Think about variation in respect to the four Gospel accounts of the Feeding of the 5000 (read each one). What are the variations, both etic and emic?
- Comment on the chart that contrasts the etic and emic approaches
[Karl Franklin, November, 2010]