[Lingtyp] Kinship systems that distinguish age but not gender

Francoise Rose Francoise.Rose at univ-lyon2.fr
Wed Jul 19 19:53:10 UTC 2017

Dear Alex,

It seems that Mojeño Trinitario (Arawak, Bolivia) shows the pattern you are looking for. There are two terms for ‘older sibling’, and one for ‘younger sibling’. They apply both to male and female referents and are used by both male and female speakers. The three terms are necessarily preceded by a possessive prefix. 

-echovi, -porape ‘older sibling’ (speakers don’t note any difference in meaning, but I haven’t worked on that topic)

-ati ‘younger sibling’

Please let me know if you want more data.


NB: Mojeño shows a genderlect distinction (Rose 2013), but as I have argued elsewhere (Rose 2015), contrarily to common thought, there is no kinship system that encodes the gender of the speaker (while some encode the gender of the referent or that of the ego).


Rose, Françoise. 2013. “Los generolectos del mojeño”, in Liames: 13, 115-134.

Rose, Françoise. 2015. “On male and female speech and more. A typology of categorical gender indexicality in indigenous South American languages”, in International Journal of American Linguistics: 81.4, 495-537.


Very best,

Françoise ROSE

Directeur de Recherches 2ème classe, CNRS

Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (CNRS/Université Lyon2)

16 avenue Berthelot

69007 Lyon


(33)4 72 72 64 63




De : Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] De la part de Hedvig Skirgård
Envoyé : mercredi 19 juillet 2017 01:32
À : <LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG> <LINGTYP at listserv.linguistlist.org>; Alexandra Marley <alexandra.marley at anu.edu.au>; Kyla Quinn <kyla.quinn at anu.edu.au>
Objet : [Lingtyp] Kinship systems that distinguish age but not gender




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
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