Sunday, April 23, 2017

Kinship Terms

I was reading, this afternoon, the linguist Geoffrey Leech on kinship terms, or kinship semantics. In my wife's family, while I am somewhat confused (they mix African and English kinship terms), it seems to me that the more traditional kinship terms are these:
• (the older generation) mothers, fathers
• (the younger generation) sons, daughters
• (the same generation) brothers, sisters, and
• brothers-in-law
In the more traditional scheme of things, there seem to be no uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces. Brothers and sisters are those of the same household. Uncles and aunts may sometimes be differentiated by calling them "small" mothers and "small" fathers. I am not sure whether there are "cousins". The photo shows (in English terms) a niece and a cousin of my wife's. I myself am a son of the older generation. OBSERVATION: It is interesting that family members actually treat each other in terms of what they call each other.

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