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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: Adjectives - 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. Regards, Yahya -- No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.385 / Virus Database: 268.5.2/329 - Release Date: 2/5/06


Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>