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The Study of Kinship
This thread is supposed to be about any scientific or technical or mathematical or real-world historical (or probably true-legendary) or realistically speculative not-conclusively-disproven things anyone wants to say about kinship.
However this original post is just going to be about the vocabulary currently used by the global academic community, (especially the scientific community, especially especially the sociolgists and anthropologists), to publish about kinship.
For this purpose this post is going to ignore anything before the Scientific Revolution.
It will also ignore anything from Marxist, and probably also some other Socialist, countries or journals or universities, between the first Communist Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and maybe a bit before and/or a bit after.
And it will ignore anything from Islamic sources until after a certain date that I don’t actually know.
In other words; anyone more interested in grinding an axe than in reporting what’s actually going on.
Due purely to my own limitations, all of my source information came to me through the English language.
For all I know that might have introduced a bias of which I am unaware.
Readers should assume that anything truthful I say henceforth in this post is probably not original with me, I just can’t remember which sources I should cite.
Readers should also assume that any errors in the remainder of this post probably are original with me.
What is Kinship?
In the literature eight kinds of kin are recognized as first-degree kin in whatever cross-cultural metalanguage the authors publish in.
Second-Degree and More Distant Kin
A first-degree kinsperson of a first-degree kinsperson is a second-degree kinsperson.
Unless they are EGO themself. Or another first-degree kinsperson.
For instance my FF, my FM, my FB, and my FZ, are all second-degree kin.
My FW might be my mother; if not she is second-degree kin.
My FS is me or my brother and my FD is me or my sister.
Likewise my MF, MM, MB, and MZ are all second-degree kin;
My MH might be my father, but if not is second-degree kin;
My MS might be me or my brother and my MD might be me or my sister.
My BF might be my father; if not he is second-degree kin.
My BM might be my mother; if not she is my second-degree kin.
My BB might be me; or might be another brother; but might instead be second-degree kin
My BZ migh be me; or might be my sister, or might be second-degree kin
My BW and BS and BD are all second-degree kin.
My ZF might be my father, or might be 2nd-degree kin.
My ZM might be my mother, or might be 2nd-degree kin.
My ZB might be me, or might be my brother, or might be 2nd-degree kin.
My ZZ might be me, or might be my sister, or might be 2nd-degree kin.
My ZH and ZS and ZD are second-degree kin.
My HF and HM and HB and HZ are all 2ndary kin. (Unless HB is another H.)
My HW might be me. Or she might be my Z. Or she might be my M or D or W, though those would be unlikely IIANM. Otherwise my co-wife is 2ndary kin.
My HS might be my son, or might be 2ndary kin.
My HD might be my daughter, or might be secondary kin.
Similar remarks apply to WF, WM, WB, WZ, WH, WS, and WD.
My SF might be me, or my husband. If not he’s 2ndary kin.
My SM might be me, or my wife. If not she’s secondary kin.
My SB might be my son; if not he’s 2ndary kin.
My SZ might be my daughter; if not she’s 2ndary kin.
My SW and SS and SD are all secondary kin.
Similar remarks apply to DF, DM, DB, DZ, DH, DS, and DD.
3rd-Degree and More Distant Kin
A 3rd-degree kinsperson is any 1st-degree kin of a 2nd-degree kin, and/or any 2nd-degree kin of a 1st-degree kin, who is not EGO themself, nor any 1st-degree nor 2nd-degree kinsperson.
A 4th-degree kinsperson is any 2nd-degree kin of any 2nd-degree kin, or any 1st-degree kin of any 3rd-degree kin, or any 3rd-degree kin of any 1st-degree kin, who is not already a 3rd-degree or 2nd-degree or 1st-degree kin, nor EGO themself.
In general an mth-degree kin of an nth-degree kin is an (m+n)th-degree kin unless they’re already more closely related.
I have never heard of a RL culture that keeps track of kinships more distant than eight degrees, except for Western Catholic Europe for a while. Since someone 7 degrees or more away probably shares 0.783125% of their variable autosomal DNA inherited from their most recent common ancestor, I don’t think keeping track of blood kin further away than 6 degrees is actually very scientific.
But some RL cultures do AFAIK still keep track of common ancestors as distant as 7 generations away.
Culture-Specific Simplifications and Complications
Some cultures keep track of whether EGO’s kin ALTER is the same sex as or the opposite sex from EGO, rather than whether ALTER is male or female.
Some cultures keep track of which of two relatives is older than or younger than the other.
In reporting on such cultures researchers have to expand the notation system.
Such an expanded notation system does exist, at least if the researcher’s report is in English.
Some cultures sometimes have just one kinterm to call kinspersons who would be denoted by two different notations as above.
For instance they may have one term for both FF and FM, and a different term for both MF and MM.
Or instead they may have one term for both FF and MF, and a different term for both FM and MM.
Biological Parents versus Sociological Parents
The woman who conceives and bears a person is called that person’s genetrix.
The man who begets a person is called that person’s genitor.
The person — usually a woman — who cares for and looks after and nurtures and raises a person, is called that person’s mater.
The person — usually a man — who introduces a youngster into society and secures that person’s place in it, is called that person’s pater.
In some societies, a person’s genetrix is their mater; but their pater is their genetrix’s oldest brother, not their genitor.
If the chain of primary kinships connecting EGO to ALTER includes at least one marriage — one spousal relationship, one H or W — then that kinship between EGO and ALTER is called affine.
Whether an affine kin of an affine kin counts as another affine kin, or doesn’t count as kin at all, may depend on context.
In the US of America my spouse’s sibling’s spouse might count as my sibling-in-law if we all meet up at the home of the parents of my spouse and their sibling for some major holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.
But I’m sure I wouldn’t count my spouse’s sibling’s spouse’s sibling’s spouse as any kind of relative.
And I might not count my cousin’s spouse’s cousin’s spouse, nor my spouse’s cousin’s spouse’s cousin, as a relative.
Technically my cousin’s spouse’s cousin would count as an affine relative in the literature. I don’t think they would in the colloquial vernacular, though. [edit:] I’d think they’d need to be my sibling’s spouse’s cousin or my cousin’s spouse’s sibling, at the most distant. [/edit]
If the reason two people are kin, is that one of them is a direct lineal descendant of the other, or a direct lineal ancestor of the other, or a direct lineal descendant of a direct lineal ancestor of the other; then they are said to be blood kin or consanguineal kin or kin by shared descent or kin by shared ancestry.
Direct Lineal Ancestors and Direct Lineal Descendants
A parent (father or mother) is a direct or lineal ancestor.
So is a parent of a parent;
or a parent of a direct or lineal ancestor;
or a direct or lineal ancestor of a parent;
or a direct or lineal ancestor of a direct or lineal ancestor.
A child (son or daughter) is a direct or lineal descendant.
So is a child of a child;
or a child of a direct or lineal descendant;
or a direct or lineal descendant of a child;
or a direct or lineal descendant of a direct or lineal descendant.
Collineal Ancestors and Collineal Descendants
If either every relative in the chain of connecting relatives who is an ancestor of EGO is also an ancestor of ALTER,
or every relative on the chain of connecting relatives who is an ancestor of ALTER is also an ancestor of EGO,
then EGO and ALTER are collineal kin.
A child of a direct or lineal ancestor is called a collineal ancestor.
If that definition is strictly correct then one’s siblings or half-siblings are also collineal ancestors.
But at least in the colloquial vernacular that term is restricted to the siblings and half-siblings of direct lineal ancestors.
A direct lineal descendant of a parent is called a collineal descendant.
If that definition is literally correct then siblings and half-siblings are also collineal descendants.
But that term is usually reserved to the direct lineal descendants of siblings and half-siblings.
All other consanguineal kin are collateral kin.
A direct lineal descendant two or more generations removed from a direct lineal ancestor two or more generations removed from EGO, is one of EGO’s collateral kin.
The closest ones would be EGO’s grandparents’ grandchildren. (Aka first cousins.)
Note that they’d be the children of EGO’s collineal ancestor (uncle or aunt), as well as the collineal descendants (nephew or niece) of EGO’s parent.
If EGO and ALTER are consanguineal kin, and the chain of connecting first-degree kinships between EGO and ALTER are all fathers and sons, then EGO and ALTER are agnatic kin.
Note that neither EGO nor ALTER have to be male themselves, unless one of them is a direct lineal ancestor of the other.
So no-one’s mother is their agnatic relative; but two daughters of the same father are agnatic relatives.
Uterine or Enatic Kin
If EGO and ALTER are consanguineal kin to each other, and the chain of first-degree kinships between them are all mothers and daughters, then they are said to be uterine kin or enatic kin.
Note neither EGO nor ALTER have to be female; except the peak or apex ancestress must be female.
So if EGO is ALTER’s direct lineal ancestor then EGO must be female for them to be enatic kin;
and reciprocally if EGO is ALTER’s direct lineal descendant then ALTER must be female for them to be enatic kin.
But if ALTER is EGO’s mother’s mother’s daughter’s son then EGO and ALTER are enatic kin even if EGO is also male.
If EGO and ALTER are consanguineal kin but neither agnatic kin nor uterine (enatic) kin, then they are cognatic kin.
The connecting chain of relatives between them must include at least one male and at least one female.
If one of them is the other’s direct ancestor their sex counts*; otherwise EGO and ALTER are both excluded from “the chain of connecting relatives”, *(for purposes of this definition).
So a man’s daughter’s children and a woman’s son’s children are all cognatic kin.
So is anyone’s mother’s father or father’s mother.
So is anyone’s father’s sister’s child or mother’s brother’s child.
People who are not related by blood or marriage can “adopt” each other — or one can adopt the other — as either legal kin or spiritual kin or oath-kin.
This can be a fictive parent-and-child kinship or a fictive sibling kinship.
There can be various degrees to which their existing consanguineal or affine kin have to treat this new kinship as “the real thing”.
It caused a lot of trouble in Western Europe for godparents and godchildren and godsibs to be counted when deciding whether two people were too-close kin to marry.