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Lillith Fair
08-25-2006, 11:35 AM
My cousin gave my daughter a graduation gift. How should my daughter address the thank you card?

She really doesn't know my cousin. They would have met 2-3 times. So she doesn't have a history of calling her something.

Should it be:

Dear Cousin Jane
Dear Jane

The 2nd choice may be rude because Jane is my age.

Thanks!

Omega Glory
08-25-2006, 11:45 AM
Go with Cousin Jane. If your cousin would prefer something more familiar, she can tell your daughter.

Shagnasty
08-25-2006, 11:55 AM
Assumming it is your first cousin: "Dear First Cousin Once Removed Jane" is accurate.

However, manners and style tned to prefer "Dear Cousin Jane". "Dear Jane" is a little rude coming from a child.

Giles
08-25-2006, 11:58 AM
They are cousins, but first cousins once removed, so "cousin Jane" is accurate.

(My children have younger cousins in a similar situation: my children are grown up, but two of their cousins have childrren aged 0 to 5. In that situation, even now, I think that "Dear Jane" would be perfectly acceptable.)

Anaamika
08-25-2006, 11:59 AM
Hmm. I think it should be Aunt Jane. But that could just be my culture. We don't really have a word for cousin in Hindi.

Antinor01
08-25-2006, 12:04 PM
Or you could go really wild and have your daughter call her Ezmerelda. Brunhilda is always good too.

Who_me?
08-25-2006, 12:07 PM
Do people actually use "Cousin Jane" in real life? The only place I've ever heard of it before was in TV shows or movies depicting good ol' southern boys.

Since your cousin gave your daughter a present, I would asume there was a card attached. How did Jane sign the card? I would use that for a clue as to how she would expect to be addressed.

glee
08-25-2006, 12:08 PM
Could you make a quick phone call to your cousin, thank her and ask what she would like?
Will your cousin take offence?

I sometimes read stories to friend's kids. They call me Uncle, which is well-known as a courtesy title for 'older male friend of the family' in England.

John Mace
08-25-2006, 12:10 PM
Hmm. I think it should be Aunt Jane. But that could just be my culture. We don't really have a word for cousin in Hindi.
No word for "cousin" in Hindi? That's hard to believe... (not that I think you're lying or anything).

Yeah, the whole "aunt" or "auntie" thing isn't much used in the US as a general term for relatives-- "cousin" is probably more common. If the person was unrelated, then "aunt" or "uncle" might be appropriate for a close friend of the parents'. Go figure.

Colibri
08-25-2006, 12:10 PM
Hmm. I think it should be Aunt Jane. But that could just be my culture. We don't really have a word for cousin in Hindi.

Cousins of one's parents' generation are often referred to informally as aunts and uncles in the US, at least in some subcultures. In my family, we referred to my mother's first cousins - actually our first cousins once removed - as aunts and uncles. This is not always the case, however; the children of my first cousins do not call me "uncle." The custom seems to be more prevalent on the Irish side of my family, rather than on the German side. However, unless this convention has been established in the family, in the case of the OP I would go with "Dear Cousin Jane."

Anaamika
08-25-2006, 01:13 PM
No word for "cousin" in Hindi? That's hard to believe... (not that I think you're lying or anything).


There is a word for cousin in Sanskrit. And I think there must be one in what is colloquially known as Old Hindi, i.e., what is spoken in serials such as the Mahabharat, etc.
But in Hindi, I either call my cousins my brothers and sisters or, if I need to differentiate, the son of my aunt/uncle. There are different words for aunts and uncles, see? If I said "Aunt" you'd know exactly which side of the family, and whether she was older or younger than the parent involved, and whether she is my blood aunt or merely in the family by marriage. (This is something I've always resented about English, by the way, that all aunts are aunt.)

The children of all my cousins call me auntie....again, depending on which side of the family they come from.

cmkeller
08-25-2006, 01:23 PM
John Mace,

No word for "cousin" in Hindi? That's hard to believe...

There isn't one in Hebrew, either...to say "cousin", you say "son (or daughter) of Uncle".

John Mace
08-25-2006, 01:41 PM
There isn't one in Hebrew, either...to say "cousin", you say "son (or daughter) of Uncle".
OK, that makes more sense. There isn't a word only because we've defined that phrase to be more than one word. You could define grandparent in English as two words (grand parent) and then say there isn't a word for grandparent in English, too.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
08-25-2006, 01:52 PM
Cousins of one's parents' generation are often referred to informally as aunts and uncles in the US, at least in some subcultures.

And at one time (and maybe still in some areas), they were referred to as "second cousins." I realize that that's not the technical definition of "second cousin," but a lot of country folk never got the memo.

Anaamika
08-25-2006, 02:15 PM
And at one time (and maybe still in some areas), they were referred to as "second cousins." I realize that that's not the technical definition of "second cousin," but a lot of country folk never got the memo.
Could you please define second cousin for me? While we're on the topic? I have no idea what it means, really. I thought the children of your mother's cousins were your second cousins, is that right?

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
08-25-2006, 02:20 PM
Second cousins are (properly) the offspring of first cousins. My child and my first cousins child would be second cousins to each other. I and my first cousin's children would be "first cousin once removed." The latter relationship is sometimes inaccurately called "second cousin," or at least once was.

Maastricht
08-25-2006, 02:24 PM
Dutch has no words either to differentiate between cousin and nephew/niece. Both are referred as "neef/nicht".

Greenback
08-25-2006, 02:24 PM
Your daughter is ~18? I would think that "dear Jane" would be alright. They are both adults.

I called my older removed cousins "aunt" and "uncle" as a sign of respect as a child because I was raised not to call adults by their first names. That changed as I grew up. After talking with some of my older cousins, the fact that I call them by their first name doesn't bother them a bit.

ShelliBean
08-25-2006, 02:25 PM
Think of the first-second-third cousins as a pyramid. You have levels, and then you have "removeds".

And I see on preview that Earl SHT has defined it better.

Personally, in that situation I called my first-cousins-once-removed "Ms. Cindy" until I got old enough (no set number, just whenever you feel comfortable) to switch to just "Cindy." A sign of adulthood, I guess.

Slacker
08-25-2006, 02:45 PM
From the master himself:

What's the term for your cousin's children? (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_268a.html)

Lillith Fair
08-25-2006, 02:56 PM
Thanks to all.

I think she probably signed the card "Jane, Rick, and Lisa." (their daughter, one year younger than my daughter).

I think I'll tell her to go with "Dear Jane, Rick, and Lisa."

bordelond
08-25-2006, 03:07 PM
Do people actually use "Cousin Jane" in real life?
:raiseshand:

Yes ... some people do. My paternal grandmother's neice was Cousin Cecille to both my parents and me, even though she was a good 40+ years older than us kids.

My mother's cousin's ex-husband's wife* is called Cousin Vicki by everyone in my immediate family, though she is unrelated to us by both blood and marriage. Again, she is old enough to be the mother of me and all my siblings.

The culture I grew up in would be that of New Orleans, with a soupçon of Cajun influence from my father's side -- not rural "good ol' boy" Southern at all.


*(picture Dark Helmet saying that and you've got the right idea ;) )

Shagnasty
08-25-2006, 03:26 PM
Oddly, I agree with almost all of the varying opinions in this thread. I grew up calling all much older cousins "Aunt" or "Uncle" first name. For the offspring of first cousins that were closer in age or much younger, I used "second cousin" and I still believe that is a superior term to first cousin once removed even though I forced myself to use the latter. The vast majority of people seem to have no idea what it means however so saying it tends to be a genealogy conversation starter. I still use "Cousin" first name for my first cousins in conversation with anyone else. "Aunt" and "Uncle" can also be older close family friends and "Miss" or "Mr" first name is reserved for adult friends or parents of friends.

I am quite possibly one of the most Southern people in the U.S. in terms of genealogy so I came by this honestly. I think this whole system is much superior to standard English which has flaws in these areas. The fact that many of these things are similar in England and Ireland make sense because that is where most Southern heritage is from.

Acsenray
08-25-2006, 04:20 PM
Being an Indian-American like Anaamika, I'm all for "aunt." In fact, I prefer that my friends' children refer to me as "uncle" rather than by my name. It just seems wrong to me for a person in a younger generation to call an elder by name.

In the Indian system, you use the same mode of address for all people of the same generation. So all your parents' first cousins, second cousins, etc., and, indeed, their friends, are addressed as if they were your parents' siblings.

To expand on Anaamika's comments about precision in Indian relationships, I'll use the Bengali terms --

Dada - elder brother
Didi - elder sister
Bhai - younger brother
Bon - younger sister

Baba - father
Ma - mother

Thakurda - father's father
Thakurma - father's mother
Dadamoshai/Dadu - mother's father
Didima/Dida - mother's mother

Jethamoshai/Jethu - father's elder brother
Jethima/Jethi - his wife
Jetuto Dada - their son (if elder to you)
Jetuto Didi - their daughter (if elder to you)
Jetuto Bhai - their son (if younger than you)
Jetuto Bon - their daughter (if younger than you)

Kaka - father's younger brother
Kakima - his wife
Khurtuto Dada - their son (elder)
Khurtuto Didi - their daughter (elder)
Khurtuto Bhai - their son (younger)
Khurtuto Bon - their daughter (younger)

Pishima/Pishi - father's sister
Pishemoshai/Pisho - her husband
Pistuto Dada - their son (elder)
Pistuto Didi - their daughter (elder)
Pistuto Bhai - their son (younger)
Pistuto Bon - their daughter (younger)

Mama - mother's brother
Mamima/Mami - his wife
Mamato Dada - their son (elder)
Mamato Didi - their daughter (elder)
Mamato Bhai - their son (younger)
Mamato Bon - their daughter (younger)

Mashima/Mashi - mother's sister
Meshomoshai/Mesho - her husband
Mastuto Dada - their son (elder)
Mastuto Didi - their daughter (elder)
Mastuto Bhai - their son (younger)
Mastuto Bon - their daughter (younger)

And you can combine these terms to specify more distant cousins. For example, your "khurtuto-khurtuto dada" would be your elder male cousin who is the son of your your father's younger male first cousin who is the son of his father's younger brother. In English, you'd only be able to get as specific as "second cousin."

anu-la1979
08-25-2006, 07:30 PM
My cousin's children refer to me as "Aunt" but I'm from the same tradition as ascenray and Anaamika so YMMV on whether or not your cousin appreciates that title. At most I'll let them get away with a "Tai-yee" (older sister).

Guinastasia
08-25-2006, 07:54 PM
Wow, in my family, from the time I could talk, I just called older cousins (my parents' cousins, that is) by their first names, and now their kids do the same. After all, we're family.

jimbeam
08-25-2006, 08:03 PM
I didn't read everyone's responses, but didn't you say your daughter's graduation?
She's an adult right?
Then "Dear Jane" should be fine.

ChicanoRojo
08-25-2006, 08:26 PM
Hmm. I think it should be Aunt Jane. But that could just be my culture. We don't really have a word for cousin in Hindi.

I also thought it would be Aunt Janet (of course not a close aunt). Also, in Mexican culture, she would be an Aunt in Second Degree, IIRC.

Mister Rik
08-25-2006, 08:42 PM
The only "first cousin once removed" I ever really knew growing up was my mom's cousin David. As a kid I always addressed him as "Uncle David" Last time I saw him was at his mother's (my great-aunt) funeral, when I was 36 or 37. I just called him David then.

I suppose there could also be some confusion with my own first cousins. My aunt is a few years younger than my dad. But where my dad was 18 when he married my mom and 21 when I was born, my aunt didn't even get married until she was 35. She didn't have her first child until a couple years after that. The result is that my first cousins are 20 and 18, and I'm 40. While we're technically of the same generation within the family, we're socially of different generations. But we just call each other by first names. Maybe I should see if I can get them to start calling me "Uncle". Naaaah :D

SCAdian
08-25-2006, 09:09 PM
[QUOTE=Shagnasty]Assumming it is your first cousin: "Dear First Cousin Once Removed Jane" is accurate.QUOTE]

Actually, if she's your first cousin, then she's your daughter's second cousin once removed.

Anaamika
08-25-2006, 09:46 PM
Fine, acsenray, my turn! :D

Hindi terms -

Bheya- elder brothers
Didi - elder sister
Younger siblings get called by their first name. Sometimes they are affectionally referred to as "Chotu" (small one) (for boys) or "Muniya" (little one) (for girls).

Pitaji formally, Papa informally - father
Mataji formally, Mama informally - mother

Dada- father's father
Dadi- father's mother
Nana - mother's father
Nani - mother's mother

Thau - father's elder brother
Thai - his wife

Chacha- father's younger brother
Chachi- his wife

Bua - father's sister
Foofer* - her husband, and yes that is a hell of a weird word to say.

Mama - mother's brother
Mami - his wife

Massi - mother's sister
Massar*- her husband

Jhet - husband's elder brother
Jhetani - his wife

Duor - husband's younger brother
Durani - his wife

the sets of parents of a married couple call each other Samdhi and Samdhan

Your wife's sisters are called your Saaliyan plural, Saali singular.

Your brother's (and cousin's) wife is called Bhabi.

Your sister's (and cousin's) husband is called Jijaji.

See? I can identify almost all my family members quickly.

Oh, and Guin, in my culture, we never refer to elders by name. All the elder Indian men & women in the community are known as Auntie and Uncle, and to this day when I meet someone of my parents' age I respectfully put my hands together and say, Namaste Auntie/Uncle.

All of your cousins are known by (name) Bheya/Didi if they are older and just name if younger.

*The starred 'r's are the hard r's in Hindi. I have no idea how to depict them. They are heavily rolled on the tongue.

An interesting fact - saala/saali is also used as an insult. Lit., it means "I'm sleeping qith your sister". Colloquially, it's taken to mean "Sister-fucker", kind of like "mother-fucker" here.

Jophiel
08-26-2006, 01:03 AM
I refer to my cousins as "Aunt So-and-So" to my seven year old son just for ease of use and because, hey, you can always use more aunts and uncles.

My girlfriend, who is from Peru, was tickled to hear me do so because she says that that's the norm down there.

ZipperJJ
08-26-2006, 01:03 AM
For the record...I used to work with my first cousins and our moms' cousins at the same place. I refer to my mom's cousins as my cousins, and always refer to them as "Cousin Ralph" and "Cousin George" and I am always "Cousin Jess."

So I call my first cousin's and my mom's cousins "cousin." We find it to be a bonding thing.

If you don't call Jane "Cousin Jane" then "Dear Jane" is just fine. "Cousin Jane" would seem weird to her if she never hears it.

jasonh300
08-28-2006, 03:01 PM
I'm from the New Orleans area and in my family, there are lots of cousins of varying degrees and removals. They're all referred to by their first name, regardless of age difference. But Aunts and Uncles are also generally referred to by their first name.

My wife's family, also from the New Orleans area, but a different suburb calls anyone with more than a few years in age difference Aunt or Uncle. Some of these people aren't even related.

My kids must have 100 Aunts and Uncles, yet I have no siblings and my wife only has one brother.

I've never heard anyone call someone "Cousin ------".

Around here, "Cuz" is a term of familiarity like "Dude" is used in other places.

jasonh300
08-28-2006, 03:05 PM
Around here, "Cuz" is a term of familiarity like "Dude" is used in other places.

Didn't finish that thought. Locals may use "Cuz" because almost everybody in the area's related somewhere between First and Fifth cousin. On a regular basis, I find out someone I've known for years is related to me.

Frelling Tralk
08-28-2006, 03:31 PM
I grew up using titles only in reference to the relation, not when addressing them directly. So when talking to my mom, I would say "Aunt Peggy" but in talking to Peggy herself, I would just address her as "Peggy." Don't know how common that is . . .

Chronos
08-28-2006, 04:08 PM
In my very large extended family, cousins might be referred to in the third person with the title "cousin" (e.g., "Cousin Joe will be visiting over Christmas"), but never addressed as such (so you wouldn't say "Hi, Cousin Joe"). If there's more than one relative with a given first name, you refer to them by how they're connected to the family (so if Cousin Joe, a blood relation, married a woman named Mary, and there was already some other Mary in the family, she'd be "Joe's Mary"). The titles "Aunt" and "Uncle" are always used (in second and third person) for literal aunts and uncles, and sometimes for other relationships (even first cousins zero times removed, if the age difference is large enough). "Mom", "Dad", "Gramma", and "Grampap" and equivalent titles are used unadorned, or perhaps "Gramma Lastname" if there's an ambiguity which one is meant (there are other ways of dealing with this ambiguity, as well, but those get complicated). Anyone other than an aunt, uncle, or ancestor is addressed by just first name, even if you hardly ever see them, because after all, they're still family.

aktep
08-28-2006, 04:27 PM
[QUOTE=Shagnasty]Assumming it is your first cousin: "Dear First Cousin Once Removed Jane" is accurate.[QUOTE]

Actually, if she's your first cousin, then she's your daughter's second cousin once removed.

No. (See chart) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_cousin)

Second cousin once removed would be the child of your grandparent's cousin (or the grandchild of your parent's cousin)

Gary Robson
08-29-2006, 12:36 AM
Do people actually use "Cousin Jane" in real life?My family does. But not as a regular form of address. It helps the kids understand relationships when they meet cousins they don't know well. I have the same name as one of my cousins. It's easier for the kids to understand what's going on if they call one of us "Uncle Wombat" and the other "Cousin Wombat."

Cousins of one's parents' generation are often referred to informally as aunts and uncles in the US, at least in some subcultures.Hmm. Never encountered this. To me, "cousin" is much more appropriate because they are some form of nth cousin m times removed. "Aunt" and "Uncle" have very specific meanings, which do not include one's parent's cousins.

sandra_nz
08-29-2006, 12:43 AM
In New Zealand, Aunt and Uncle are often used as forms of address for any relative/family friend around the same age as one's parents.

So my parents had a group of friends that I called (and still call) Aunt and Uncle. No relation whatsoever, but I probably saw as much (if not more) of them than my 'true' Aunts and Uncles!

Acsenray
08-29-2006, 10:15 AM
Anyone other than an aunt, uncle, or ancestor is addressed by just first name, even if you hardly ever see them, because after all, they're still family.

This illustrates a big cultural difference. In Indian culture, only strangers or outsiders are addressed by their actual names. People who are close to you, whether related by blood or not, are addressed by a relationship term (if they are elder) or a nickname (if they are younger). (Traditionally, nicknames are entirely unrelated to actual given names, not short forms.)