[Lingtyp] How many terms human languages have for "cousin" ?

Jean-François Mignot jeffmignot at yahoo.fr
Tue Jul 25 16:18:03 UTC 2017

Dear linguistic typologists,


I am a French demographer trying to explain whycertain present-day populations, especially but not only from Mauritania toPakistan, marry cousins more often than other populations (http://consang.net/index.php/ Global_prevalence). To do that I would like to know when cousinmarriage started becoming more (or less) frequent in human populations.However, given the dearth of ancient demographic data, the best (althoughrough) indicator of cousin marriage may be whether a people’s language hasdifferent terms for different types of cousins (like in Latin where patruelis = the child of father’sbrother, amitinus/a = the child of father’ssister, matruelis = the child of mother’sbrother and consobrinus = the childof mother’s sister) rather than having only one term (like in English: cousin).

As specialists of linguistic typology, would you knowif and how I could find relatively systematic information or a database onwhether currently spoken or extinct languages or reconstructed proto-languageshave different terms for different types of cousins or just one term for allcousins?


Thanks in advance for your help,which would be very precious to me, and best wishes for your research and otheractivities,

Jean-François MignotWeb page

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