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All in the Family

From:KB <khyranleander@...>
Date:Thursday, December 14, 2006, 2:33
Here's a question for you folks. Anyone know of a language that includes relational
terms defined strictly in terms of distance, not direction?

 I mean, lateral terms like "X is mate of Y" is the same as "Y is mate of X",
and you can write the same thing if you substitute in cousin or sibling in
English. But cross-generation terms are all directional:

       "X is older by a generation than Y" = "Y is younger by a generation than X"
       "X is the sibling of a parent of Y" = "Y is a child of a sibling of X".
       "X is the parent of a mate of Y" = "Y is the mate of a child of X"

 I know some languages eliminate some of this, like calling fathers and uncles
the same thing, etc. But the ones I've heard of (admittedly, almost a
negligible sample) seem to require an "older or younger" factor to their terms
at the least. While I doubt any would be so dependent on a family tree graph as
to define terms literally as "seperated vertically one degree and laterally one
degree", anyone ever define AUNT as the same as NIECE, or SON-IN-LAW the same
as FATHER-IN-LAW, along those general lines?


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JR <fuscian@...>