Marriage and the classificatory system of relationship

Kinship - Wikipedia

marriage and the classificatory system of relationship

Kinship terminology is the system used in languages to refer to the persons to whom an Eskimo kinship: has both classificatory and descriptive terms; in addition to A genealogical relationship traced through a pair of siblings of the same sex is of kin-term systems because both systems distinguish relatives by marriage. In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives Human kinship relations through marriage are commonly called "affinity" in . Kin terminologies can be either descriptive or classificatory. Examples of a matrilineal system of descent are the Nyakyusa of Tanzania and the. the term "Orthogamous Marriage. is the key to the classificatory system of relationship. marriage between a man's children and those of his own sister.

Siblings are distinguished from cousins, and different terms are used for each type of cousin i. Lineal relatives have highly descriptive terms; collateral relatives have highly classificatory terms. Thus, siblings are distinguished from cousins, while all types of cousins are grouped together. The system of English-language kinship terms falls into the Eskimo type. A genealogical relationship traced through a pair of siblings of the same sex is classed as a blood relationship, but one traced though a pair of siblings of the opposite sex can be considered an in-law relationship.

In other words, siblings are grouped together with parallel cousinswhile separate terms are used for cross-cousins. Also, one calls one's mother's sister "mother" and one's father's brother "father". However, one refers to one's mother's brother and one's father's sister by separate terms often the terms for father-in-law and mother-in-law, since cross-cousins can be preferential marriage partners.

Relatives on the mother's side of the family have more descriptive terms, and relatives on the father's side have more classificatory terms. Thus, Crow kinship is like Iroquois kinship, with the addition that a number of relatives belonging to one's father's matrilineage are grouped together, ignoring generational differences, so that the same term is used for both one's father's sister and one's father's sister's daughter, etc.

Relatives on the mother's side of the family have more classificatory terms, and relatives on the father's side have more descriptive terms. Thus, Omaha kinship is like Iroquois, with the addition that a number of relatives belonging to one's mother's patrilineage are grouped together, ignoring generational differences, so that the same term is used for both one's mother's brother and one's mother's brother's son, etc.

The basic principles of Crow and Omaha terminologies are symmetrical and opposite, with Crow systems having a matrilineal emphasis and Omaha systems a patrilineal emphasis. Rather than one term for "brother", there exist, for example, different words for "older brother" and "younger brother".

In Tamil, an older male sibling is referred to as Annan and a younger male sibling as Thambi, whereas older and younger female siblings are called Akka and Thangai respectively.

marriage and the classificatory system of relationship

Identification of alternating generations[ edit ] Other languages, such as Chiricahuause the same terms of address for alternating generations. Similar features are seen also in Huichol [1] [2]some descendant languages of Proto-Austronesian e. Fordata [3]Kei [4]and Yamdena [5] [6]Bislama [7]and Usarufa [8].

The relative age and alternating-generations systems are combined in some languages. For instance, Tagalog borrows the relative age system of the Chinese kinship and follows the generation system of kinship. Philippine kinship distinguishes between generation, age and in some cases, gender.

If each female link M,D is assigned a 0 and each male F,B a 1, the number of 1s is either even or odd; in this case, even. However, variant criteria exist. There exists also a version of this logic with a matrilineal bias. In such a case the probability that the single feature of the Florida system which follows from the cross-cousin marriage has actually had that form of marriage as its antecedent becomes very great, and this conclusion becomes still more probable when we find that in a third island, Ysabel, closely allied in culture both to Florida and Guadalcanar, there is a clear tradition of the former practice of the cross-cousin marriage although it is now only an occasional event.

Again, in one district of San Cristoval in the Solomons the term fongo is used both for the father-in-law and the father's sister's husband, and kafongo similarly denotes both the mother-in-law and the mother's brother's wife. This island differs more widely from Guadalcanar in culture than Florida or Ysabel, but the evidence for the former existence of the marriage in these islands gives us more confidence in ascribing the common designations of San Cristoval to the cross-cousin marriage than would have been the case if these common designations had been the only examples of such possible survivals in the Solomons.

Speaking in more general terms, one may say that the probability that the common nomenclature for two relatives is the survival of a form of marriage becomes the greater, the more similar is the general culture in which the supposed survival is found to that of a people who practise this form of marriage. The case will be greatly strengthened if there should be intermediate links between the supposed survival and the still living institution. When we find a feature such as that of the Florida system among a people none of whose allies in culture practise the cross-cousin marriage, the matter must be far more doubtful.

Firth, Raymond William, 1901-. Marriage and the classificatory system of relationships

In the present state of our knowledge we are only justified in making such a feature the basis of a working hypothesis to stimulate research and encourage us to look for other evidence in the neighbourhood of the place where the feature has been found.

Our knowledge of the social institutions of the world is not yet so complete that we can afford to neglect any clue which may guide our steps. I propose briefly to consider two regions, South India and North America, to show how they differ from this point of view.

The terms of relationship used in three [9] of the chief languages spoken by the people of South India are exactly such as would follow from the cross-cousin marriage. In Tamil [10] the mother's brother, the father's sister's husband, and the father of both husband and wife are all called mama, and this term is also used for these relatives in Telegu. In Canarese the mother's brother and the father-in-law are both called mava, but the father's sister's husband fails to fall into line and is classed with the father's brother.

Similarly, the father's sister, the mother's brother's wife and the mother of both wife and husband are called atta in Telegu and atte in Canarese, Tamil here spoiling the harmony by having one term, attai, for the father's sister and another, mami, for the mother's brother's wife and the mother-in-law.

Since, however, the Tamil term for the father's sister is only another form of the Telegu and Canarese words for the combined relationships, the exception only serves to strengthen the agreement with the condition which would follow from the cross-cousin marriage.

The South Indian terms for cross-cousin and brother- and sister-in-law are complicated by the presence of distinctions dependent on the sex and relative age of those who use them, but these complications do not disguise how definitely the terminology would follow from the cross-cousin marriage. Thus, to take only two examples: So far as we know, the cross-cousin marriage is not now practised by the vast majority of those who use these terms of relationship. If the terminology has been the result of the cross-cousin marriage, it is only a survival of an ancient social condition in which this form of marriage was habitual.

That it is such a survival, however, becomes certain when we find the cross-cousin marriage still persisting in many parts of South India, and that among one such people at least, the Todas, [11] this form of marriage is associated with a system of relationship agreeing both in its structure and linguistic character with that of the Tamils. I have elsewhere [12] brought together the evidence for the former prevalence of this form of marriage in India, but even if there were no evidence, the terminology of relationship is so exactly such as would follow from the cross-cousin marriage that we can be certain that this form of marriage was once the habitual custom of the people of South India.

While South India thus provides a good example of a case in which we can confidently infer the former existence of the cross-cousin marriage from the terminology of relationship, the evidence from North America is of a kind which gives to such an inference only a certain degree of probability. In this case it is necessary to suspend judgment and await further evidence before coming to a positive conclusion.

I will begin with a very doubtful feature which comes from an Athapascan tribe, the Red Knives [13] probably that now called Yellow Knife. These people use a common term, set-so, for the father's sister, the mother's brother's wife, the wife's mother and the husband's mother, a usage which would be the necessary result of the cross-cousin marriage. Against this, however, is to be put the fact that there are three different terms for the corresponding male relatives, the two kinds of father-in-law being called seth-a, the mother's brother ser-a, and the father's sister's husband selthe-ne.

Further, the term set-so, the common use of which for the aunt and mother-in-law seems to indicate the cross-cousin marriage, is also applied by a man to his brother's wife and his wife's sister, features which cannot possibly be the result of this form of marriage.

Marriage and the classificatory system of relationships on eHRAF World Cultures

These features show, either that the terminology has arisen in some other way, or that there has been some additional social factor in operation which has greatly modified a nomenclature derived from the cross-cousin marriage.

A stronger case is presented by the terminology of three branches of the Cree tribe, also recorded by Morgan. In all three systems, one term, ne-sis or nee-sis, is used for the mother's brother, the father's sister's husband, the wife's father and the husband's father; while the term nis-si-goos applies to the father's sister, the mother's brother's wife and the two kinds of mother-in-law.

These usages are exactly such as would follow from the cross-cousin marriage.

marriage and the classificatory system of relationship

The terms for the sister's son of a man and the brother's son of a woman, however, differ from those used for the son-in-law, and there is also no correspondence between the terms for cross-cousin and any kind of brother- or sister-in-law.

The case points more definitely to the cross-cousin marriage than in the case of the Red Knives, but yet lacks the completeness which would allow us to make the inference with confidence. The Assiniboin have a common term, me-toh-we, used for the father's sister, the mother's brother's wife and the two kinds of mother-in-law, and also a common term, me-nake-she, for the mother's brother and the father's sister's husband, but the latter differs from the word, me-to-ga-she, used for the father of husband or wife.

The case here is decidedly stronger than among the Red Knives, but is less complete than among the Crees. Among a number of branches of the Dakotas the evidence is of a different kind, being derived from similar nomenclature for the cross-cousin and certain kinds of brother- and sister-in-law. Morgan [14] has recorded eight systems, all of which show the features in question, but I will consider here only that of the Isauntie or Santee Dakotas, which was collected for him by the Rev.

Riggs [15] and Dorsey [16] have given independent accounts of this system which are far less complete than that given by Morgan, but agree with it in all essentials. In this system a man calls the son of his mother's brother or of his father's sister ta-hang-she or tang-hang-she, while his wife's brother and his sister's husband are ta-hang or tang-hang. Similarly, a woman calls her cross-cousin she-chay-she, while her husband's brother and her sister's husband are called she-chay.

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The terms for brothers-in-law are thus the same as those for cross-cousins with the omission of the suffix she. One of these resemblances, that when a woman is speaking, has been cited by Professor Kroeber [17] as an example of the psychological causation of such features of relationship as I am considering in these lectures. He rejects its dependence on the cross-cousin marriage and refers the resemblance to the psychological similarity between a woman's cousin and her brother-in-law in that both are collateral relatives alike in sex, of the same generation as the speaker, but different from her in sex.

As we have seen, however, the Dakota correspondence is not an isolated occurrence, but fits in with a number of other features of the systems of cognate peoples to form a body of evidence pointing to the former prevalence of the cross-cousin marriage.

There is also indirect evidence leading in the same direction. In Melanesia there is reason to believe that the cross-cousin marriage stands in a definite relation to another form of marriage, that with the wife of the mother's brother. If there should be evidence for the former existence of this marriage in North America, it would increase the probability in favour of the cross-cousin marriage. Among a number of peoples, some of whom form part of the Sioux, including the Minnitarees, Crows, Choctas, Creeks, Cherokees and Pawnees, cross-cousins are classed with parents and children exactly as in the Banks Islands, and exactly as in those islands, it is the son of the father's sister who is classed with the father, and the children of the mother's brother who are classed with sons or daughters.

Further, among the Pawnees the wife of the mother's brother is classed with the wife, a feature also associated with the peculiar nomenclature for cross-cousins in the Banks Islands. The agreement is so close as to make it highly probable that the American features of relationship have been derived from a social institution of the same kind as that to which the Melanesian features are due, and that it was once the custom of these American peoples to marry the wife of the mother's brother.

Here, as in the case of the cross-cousin marriage itself, the case rests entirely upon the terminology of relationship, but we cannot ignore the association in neighbouring parts of North America of features of relationship which would be the natural consequence of two forms of marriage which are known to be associated together elsewhere. I am indebted to Miss Freire-Marreco for the information that the Tewa of Hano, a Pueblo tribe, call the father's sister's son tada, a term otherwise used for the father, thus suggesting that they also may once have practised marriage with the wife of the mother's brother.

The use of this term, however, is only one example of a pracwhereby all the males of the father's clan are called tada, irrespective of age and generation. The common nomenclature for the father and the father's sister's son among the Tewa thus differs in character from the apparently similar nomenclature of the Banks Islands and cannot have been determined directly, perhaps not even remotely, by marriage with the wife of the mother's brother.

This raises the question whether the nomenclature of the Sioux has not arisen out of a practice similar to that of the Tewa. The terms for other relarecorded by Morgan show some evidence of the widely generalised use of the Tewa, but such a use cannot account for the classing of the wife of the mother's brother with the wife which occurs among the Pawnees. Nevertheless, the Tewa practice should keethe Sioux nomenclature may depend on some social condition different from that which has been effective in the Banks Islands in spite of the close resemblance between the two.

The case for the former existence of the cross-cousin marriage should occur elesewhere in North America. So far as I am aware, the only people among whom it has been recorded are the Haidahs of Queen Charlotte Island. This mode of distribution of the peoples whose terminology of relationship bears evidence of the cross-cousin marriage suggests that other intermediate links may yet be found.

Though the existing evidence is inconclusive, it should be sufficient to stimulate a search for other evidence which may make possible to decide whether or no the cross-cousin marriage was once a widespread practice in North America.

I can only consider one other kind of marriage here. The discovery of so remarkable a union as that with the daughter's daughter in Pentecost and the evidence pointing to a still more remarkable marriage between those having the status of grandparent and grandchild in Fiji and Buin have naturally led me to look for similar evidence elsewhere in Melanesia.

Though there is nothing conclusive, conditions are to be found here and there which suggest the former existence of such marriages. When I was in the Solomons I met a native of the Trobriand Islands, who told me that among his people the term tabu was applied both to grandparents and to the father's sister's child.