chapter
The emic model is not the native’s model
Pages 6

This may be illustrated by †Conklin’s (1969) example of the structure of the pronouns in Hanunoo, a language spoken in the Philippines. Conklin argued that the conventional linguistic (etic) distinctions-first, second and third person; singular, dual and plural; and exclusive and inclusive-only describe Hanunoo pronouns in an inelegant and uneconomical way. These distinctions account for all Hanunoo pronouns, but they produce no less than four potential categories which the Hanunoo language does not distinguish. It is better, he suggested, to examine the distinctive contrasts made by the language itself. In doing this, he came up with three sets of emic distinctions for Hanunoo pronouns —minimal membership, nonminimal membership; inclusion of speaker, exclusion of speaker; and inclusion of hearer, exclusion of hearer. The application of these distinctions generates all and only the eight pronouns found in the language, and the resulting analysis is therefore more elegant and economical than the one employing the etic categories traditionally used by linguists. Yet the emic criteria he identified are distinctions which are not named or even consciously employed by the Hanunoo themselves. They are only implicit in indigenous usage.