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Kinship system

From:Amanda Babcock Furrow <langs@...>
Date:Sunday, December 28, 2008, 6:24
Wanting to beef up mërèchi for possible use in a reverse relay, I set out
to fill out the kinship terminology.  I realized the first task was to
choose a kinship system.  Next, I changed it up and added (I thought) a
dimension (ANADEW, as it turns out), and made it more baroque than my
sources, as is the mërèchi way.

The result is diagrammed in two Word documents (I know, v. lame, is there
an open-source general diagram-drawing program superior to Word's AutoShapes?)
presenting a full set of grandparents' descendants for a male and a female
"ego" (plus some great-grandparents).  The basic kinship system I was
inspired by was the Iroquois, but with an additional dimension (beyond
gender, generation and cross-ness) of relative age whenever siblings are
involved.  (I considered also marking relative age between endpoints, but
decided not to.)  I was also keeping in mind that the Dravidian system,
said to be a version of the Iroquois, permitted uncle-niece marriage as
a type of cross-cousin marriage, which informed my choices about how to
represent older branches versus younger branches of the tree.

(Tonight I found a fuller description of actual practice among most
Dravidian groups said to be using the "Dravidian" system, which indeed
does use relative age, and takes it a step farther than I had done -
using both seniority-between-parent-and-their-sibling, which I do use,
and seniority-between-endpoints, which I didn't, and the system described
therein looks fully as complex, though for different reasons, as what I
ended up with; at
for the curious.)

I constructed my system along the basic principles that: younger siblings,
and relatives reached via younger siblings, are generally referred to by
terms which indicate relative gender but not absolute gender; elder
siblings, and relatives reached via elder siblings, are generally referred
to by terms which indicate absolute rather than relative gender, as a
mark of respect; and marriagable cousins have more specific names (all
gender-specific) than either parallel or same-gender cousins.  Parental-
child (and grandparental) names indicate same-genderedness where it exists
and also mark gender, thus creating kinds of children, parents and
grandparents which can only exist in relationship to one gender or the other.

I'm afraid I don't have time tonight to describe the whole system in
words, but the charts are at for the view from
the male viewpoint, and for the view from
the female viewpoint.

A few points are not obvious in the chart:

. double-ended arrows connect the main, bolded person's parents to their
  positions among their siblings; each parent is represented twice
. grandparents refer to grandchildren as children
. relatives by marriage are referred to by the blood-relative's name or
  title followed by the suffix -dòna for a junior spouse, or -íntat
  for a senior spouse
. the suffix -nídit on a name or title refers to that person's entire
  descendant tree
. the suffix -sèbit  on a name or title refers to that person's entire
  same-gender descendant tree (plus opposite-gender leaf nodes)
. the list of marriagable cousins is: cöpíli, úpla, pilúla, súmli, damúl,
  and símpë
. the list of unmarriagable cousins is: mísë, sasàtë, kanlí, mèlë,
  löpàla, simílë

And that's all for tonight.