[Lingtyp] addressing the daughter as Mummy (Ahmet Akkoç)

AHMET AKKOC aakkoc17 at ku.edu.tr
Wed Mar 31 15:56:22 UTC 2021

Dear Sergey,

I do realize I am late to the party and there has already been a rich
discussion over the course of the past 8 months. That being said, I would
still like to offer an answer to your original question:

Are we aware of explanations for this kind of usage?

Explanation highly differs from discipline to discipline, so much so that
the very phenomenon is referred to by different names.

Anthropologists call it *self-reciprocal kinship*, a broad term for a
practice in some societies, where one adopts the kinship term, name or
title of another person in relation to themselves. It is often associated
with prestige. Psychologists, on the other hand, associate it with *nursery
forms*, "teaching the infant how to address the speaker back" as it were.
When it comes to Linguists, they are all over the place, since they have
the misfortune to study *exceptions* which don't fit either of those
explanations, *ex. when gender agreement is in relation to the referee
rather than the speaker.* But the general consensus seems to be that it is
a form of "*possessive endearment*", as if to say "*sweet* X *of mine*".

What I have observed for myself, but haven't seen addressed elsewhere is
underlying *social incentives, and stigma*, which are best observed not in
modeling on linguistic similarity, but on geographic relationships. Which
brings me to-

Are there cross-language studies of this kind of facts?

In addition to the studies which have been already mentioned, I would like
to present a work of my own. A few years ago I had a personal experience,
which ultimately led me to question if *reverse kinship* was a feature
unique to my language or any group of languages. After years of searching
for a taxonomy of any kind, to no avail, I decided to conduct an informal
survey of my own to at least test my hypothesis.

[image: image.png]

This search initially began with me forum surfing. I was a part of several
online language circles at the time, so I was able to survey and discuss my
findings with native speakers, to a limited extent. A few months later I
was able to map the atlas you see above, showing the geographic
distribution and local frequency of reversed kinship and similar

Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the rest of the scientific
community, this atlas is one of a kind. There are certainly a few revisions
pending, notably around the Gulf of Aden and Korea, though I must admit
that I was pleased to see that my map was, even so, mostly consistent with
the above exchanges in this maillist.

Seeing this interest in the topic of reversed kinship, I would be honored
to contribute to a more formal and thorough comparative study in any way
that I can. I have shared supplementary notes and a more detailed analysis
on the Linguistics Stack Exchange
<https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/a/32015/17465> and Reddit
anyone interested.

Best Wishes,

Ahmet Akkoç
Computer Engineering Senior Student
Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey
aakkoc17 at ku.edu.tr
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