Common words for man & husband, woman & wife (was: Brothers-in-law)
|From:||Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>|
|Date:||Friday, May 5, 2006, 10:21|
On Thu, 4 May 2006, Jim Henry wrote:
> On 5/4/06, Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...> wrote:
> > Apparently, there is no common PIE word for "wife" reconstructable, nor
> > for any wife-relative family terms. What this says about the
> structure and
> > nature of PIE families is left as an exercise for the reader...
> Would it be reasonable to guess that PIE, like
> modern French, used a single word for both
> "woman" and "wife"? Ancient Greek seems to have
> lost the PIE root for husband as far as I can tell,
> substituting a generic "aner, andros" for man/husband.
> What other languages (IE or not) have common
> words for "man/husband" and/or "woman/wife"?
Malay has two words adopted from the time most
Malays were Hindus:
suami = husband
isteri = wife
These are still the polite terms. In common speech,
however, one often hears:
laki = husband
bini = wife
Although I believe these to be older terms, they are
considered rather coarse.
Other Malay kinship terms relevant to this question:
laki-laki OR lelaki OR laki = human male (1)
perempuan = human female (2)
jantan = animal male (1)
betina = animal female
Simple Nouns -
orang = person
anak = child (of ...), offspring
budak OR kanak-kanak = child, juvenile, pre-adult
tuan = lord, master
Tuan = Mr.
Puan = Mrs. (3)
Encik = Mr. OR Mrs.
Derived Nouns (Noun + Adjective) -
[orang] laki-laki OR lelaki = man
[orang] perempuan = woman
anak laki-laki = son
anak perempuan = daughter
budak laki-laki = boy
budak perempuan = girl
(1) In the Brunei dialect of Malay, "jantan" is used
for all males, whether animal or human.
(2) Possibly from the root "empu" = to have, possess;
if so, the word "perempuan" literally means "possession";
analogous to a wife's chattel status under Common Law
until, I believe, the late 19th C.
(3) A contraction of "perempuan", formed on the analogy
of "Tuan". Just like a "Mrs.", a "Puan" is the property of
a "Tuan" or "Mr."! As androcentric as can be ...
Now to answer the question: It is possible, and quite
common, even if not always thought polite, for a woman's
"husband" to be called her "man" ie "laki". In Brunei, he
may be called her "male", ie "jantan", and usually is.
However, to my knowledge, one should never call a man's
wife his "woman" or "female".
> Are there any commonalities obvious about their
> present or recent past marriage customs?
As I've only exhibited one case, I can't compare this
with any other. But for your information, the present
Malay marriage customs incorporate both -
- a ceremony of Hindu origin, the "bersanding", in which
the couple sit in state for a day, dressed to emulate
royalty as well as the groom's family can afford, and
receive guests and well-wishers, acting the part of "King
& Queen for a day". They even wear yellow, the colour
normally reserved to royalty. They should comport
themselves with appropriate dignity, and their friends
have great fun teasing them to try to make them smile;
it can be quite an ordeal. They symbolically feed each
other a handful of cooked rice, "se-suap nasi", to seal
the union; and
- a ceremonial union, the "akad nikah" to satisfy the
requirements of Muslim law, in which both parties
declare their wish to be united in marriage of their own
free will, in the presence of at least two witnesses.
There is, in my opinion, much in history and nothing in
kinship terminology, to explain these particular rituals.
The "akad nikah" is essentially identical to the marriage
ceremony my wife and I underwent in a masjid (mosque)
in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia, and to those under-
gone by Muslims who marry anywhere under Sunni law.
The "bersanding" is clearly derived from a Hindu model.
I only know of the most basic kinship terms in use in
Hindu society - and many of those come from Urdu,
which is, I think, Hindi with an overlay of Arabic and
Persian introduced by the Mughals - so I can't say
whether the original Hindi terms largely parallel those
found among the Malays, or not.
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