[Lingtyp] Kinship systems that distinguish age but not gender

Peter Austin pa2 at soas.ac.uk
Wed Jul 19 14:12:10 UTC 2017

One factor no-one has mentioned so far is politeness (and deference).

In Sasak (Lombok, Indonesia) there are two registers, alus (roughly)
'polite' and jamaq (roughly) 'plain'. In jamaq the same pattern is found as
for other Austronesian languages mentioned already, ie. adiq or ariq for
'younger sibling' and kakaq for 'older sibling'. However, in alus there are
terms that distinguish both marital status and gender (for unmarried) but
only for senior siblings -- there is no alus for junior kin:

boling (alus) 'older married sibling'

beli (alus) 'older unmarried brother'

mbok (alus) 'older unmarried sister'

There is also the general term semeton (in alus sanak) used for all
siblings, and for close friends, that is also applied to foster
relationships: semeton angkat 'foster sibling'. Gender and seniority are
also not distinguished in in-law terms where there is just ipar

Just to remind typologists that languages exist in the contexts of
linguistic and cultural ideologies and practices whose functioning may lead
them to posit '(putative) universals' when squinting at apparent
form-meaning pairs.


On 19 July 2017 at 17:21, Kyla Quinn <kyla.quinn at anu.edu.au> wrote:

> Okay, so looking through the parabank kin data we have so far....
> For Alex' question....out of 300 odd languages there are 82 that don't
> distinguish gender for younger siblings. There are 52 that don't
> distinguish gender for older siblings. There is a 51 language cross over
> between these two sets.  Most of these are Austronesian and North American
> languages, with a few Australian and others scattered through.
> For Siva's question...
> There are some languages in the data set that exhibit this pattern but as
> a cross pattern, so if you are male you distinguish for older brother and
> younger brother but no age distinction for sisters and vice versa. There
> are three languages that exhibit precisely what you've asked and there are
> several other variations.
> Happy to answer any other questions based on our data!!
> Cheers,
> Kyla
> On Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 6:57 PM, Siva Kalyan <sivakalyan.princeton at gmail.
> com> wrote:
>> On a slight tangent, are there languages where male siblings are
>> distinguished for age but female siblings aren't (or vice versa)?
>> Siva
>> On 19 Jul 2017, at 6:50 pm, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:
>> Matt beat me to it on Malay/Indonesian!  I would just like to add that
>> while many (most?) varieties that I am familiar with work the way Matt
>> describes, some exhibit an asymmetry in which elder siblings are
>> distinguished for gender while younger ones are not.  This pattern is also
>> evident in closely-related Minangkabau:
>> adiak - 'younger sibling'
>> uda - 'elder brother'
>> uni - 'elder sister'
>> And I suspect that it is common in other languages of the region.
>> On 19/07/2017 10:40, Matthew Carroll wrote:
>> Hi Guys
>> What about Indonesian/Malay? kakak/adik for elder/younger sibling
>> respectively.
>> Best,
>> Matt
>> On Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 9:31 AM, Hedvig Skirgård <
>> hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Dear LINGTYP,
>>> Does anyone know of a language that has a distinction in the kinship
>>> system for age of referent (younger/older) without also having a
>>> distinction for gender of referent? For example, a language that marks
>>> siblings as being younger or older to ego without reference to being sister
>>> or brother.
>>> The hypothesis is that this doesn't happen/is very rare. We'd like to
>>> know if you've come across any examples of this.
>>> I'm asking for my friend Alex (cc:ed) who is not on the list. Please
>>> direct any responses or comments to her.
>>> *****
>>> *Tōfā soifua,*
>>> *Hedvig Skirgård*
>>> PhD Candidate
>>> The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity
>>> ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
>>> School of Culture, History and Language
>>> College of Asia and the Pacific
>>> Rm 4203, H.C. Coombs Building (#9)
>>> The Australian National University
>>> Acton ACT 2601
>>> Australia
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>>> Board of the International Olympiad of Linguistics
>>> <http://www.ioling.org/>www.ioling.org
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>> _______________________________________________
>> Lingtyp mailing listLingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.orghttp://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>> --
>> David Gil
>> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
>> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
>> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
>> Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
>> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834 <+49%203641%20686834>
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> --
> Kyla Quinn
> PhD Candidate
> ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
> College of Asia and the Pacific | The Australian National University
> [image: cid:image001.jpg at 01D24FB2.4E587A40]
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Prof Peter K. Austin
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