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Hail Ants
03-21-2012, 10:33 PM
Okay, so my mother's first cousin's kids are my second cousins (as opposed to the children of my first cousins who are my first cousins once removed). But what are the parents of my second cousin to me? They're colloquially usually called 'uncle' or 'aunt' because of the age difference but that isn't right. Is there a term for this familial relation?

Inner Stickler
03-21-2012, 10:41 PM
First cousin once removed.

friedo
03-21-2012, 10:41 PM
They are also your first cousins, once removed. (Removedness can go in either direction.)

Hail Ants
03-22-2012, 12:13 AM
Oh yeah! I'm their first cousin once removed so so are they! I feel stupid. :smack:

Senegoid
03-22-2012, 12:19 AM
They are also your first cousins, once removed. (Removedness can go in either direction.)

Yes, this is how I've understood it. It's an ambiguous, and thus bad, system of nomenclature. This relation described here is clearly NOT symmetrical (as 2nd cousins are, in contrast) -- yet the symmetrical nomenclature "1st cousin once removed" is used both ways.

Does anyone know of another system of naming relatives that's different and maybe better? I've heard that another such system exists, but I don't know of it.

Okay, maybe I know of another system. I've heard of a system whereby relatives are described by degree of relatedness. The way it works is, you draw enough of the family tree to show you, and another person, and all the relatives up and down both of them until a common ancestor. Count the number of "hops" along this tree it takes to go up from one person, to the common ancestor, and down from there to the other person. This number is your degree of relatedness. But this tells you very little, in a way -- there could be many ways, for example, for two people to be "relatives of degree 6", for example.

Inner Stickler
03-22-2012, 12:25 AM
That's basically what we're talking about. The ordinal number tells you how far back you have to go to reach a common ancestor, or how far apart you are horizontally on the family tree, and the degree of removedness tells you how many generations separate you from each other, or how far apart you are vertically on the family tree.

Eliahna
03-22-2012, 12:26 AM
Okay, maybe I know of another system. I've heard of a system whereby relatives are described by degree of relatedness. The way it works is, you draw enough of the family tree to show you, and another person, and all the relatives up and down both of them until a common ancestor. Count the number of "hops" along this tree it takes to go up from one person, to the common ancestor, and down from there to the other person. This number is your degree of relatedness. But this tells you very little, in a way -- there could be many ways, for example, for two people to be "relatives of degree 6", for example.

I'm not sure what system you're describing, but the method sounds like the one you use to determine cousinship and degree of removal. Count up until you find siblings and that gives you x cousins, and then count the generations between you to get y degrees removed.

Wendell Wagner
03-22-2012, 05:58 AM
You can make up any system you want, but the fact is that the term "x-th cousin, y-times removed" is the only standard terminology in English to describe such relationships. The problem is that it's not even a universally known term in English. My observation is that frequently people don't learn how to use "x-th cousin, y-times removed" until they are adults. Before then, most people have to describe the relationship just as in the OP, where you have to say how far up and down the family tree you are from each other.

APB
03-22-2012, 09:37 AM
There is no ambiguity at all if the terms 'upwards' and 'downwards' are used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin#Asymmetric_definitions

Okay, so my mother's first cousin's kids are my second cousins (as opposed to the children of my first cousins who are my first cousins once removed). But what are the parents of my second cousin to me? They're colloquially usually called 'uncle' or 'aunt' because of the age difference but that isn't right. Is there a term for this familial relation?

In that particular case, the parent who is your blood relative is your second cousin once removed upwards. Although, of course, it's less cumbersome just to describe them as your mother's first cousin.

Tastes of Chocolate
03-22-2012, 03:07 PM
There is no ambiguity at all if the terms 'upwards' and 'downwards' are used.


In that particular case, the parent who is your blood relative is your second cousin once removed upwards. Although, of course, it's less cumbersome just to describe them as your mother's first cousin.

It seems the upward/downward idea isn't very useful, since it only applies to the relationship when seen from one side.

Take the OPs situation. Mother's cousin. First cousin once removed.
From my viewpoint, you would call that a first cousin once removed upward? From Mom's cousin, it would be first cousin once removed downward? For the same relationship.

As to the OP: Okay, so my mother's first cousin's kids are my second cousins (as opposed to the children of my first cousins who are my first cousins once removed). But what are the parents of my second cousin to me? They're colloquially usually called 'uncle' or 'aunt' because of the age difference but that isn't right. Is there a term for this familial relation? First cousin once removed really only applies to the parent that is your mother's cousin. The other parent is an "In-Law", or well, family.

friedo
03-22-2012, 03:36 PM
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Take the OPs situation. Mother's cousin. First cousin once removed.
From my viewpoint, you would call that a first cousin once removed upward? From Mom's cousin, it would be first cousin once removed downward? For the same relationship.


This is hardly surprising. We have separate terms for mother and daughter, for grandmother and granddaughter, for aunt and niece, etc. All of these pairs describe the same relationship.

APB
03-22-2012, 03:41 PM
It seems the upward/downward idea isn't very useful, since it only applies to the relationship when seen from one side.

Take the OPs situation. Mother's cousin. First cousin once removed.
From my viewpoint, you would call that a first cousin once removed upward? From Mom's cousin, it would be first cousin once removed downward? For the same relationship.

No. The whole point is that such relationships are asymmetric, so they are necessarily different depending on the perspective from which they are viewed. Consider the simpler case of an aunt and an niece. They call each other different things because the relationship between them is not the same; their relationships are instead the opposite of each other. And, as I've explained, the opposite of a first cousin once removed downwards is a second cousin once removed upwards.

Chronos
03-22-2012, 05:29 PM
Note also that many other languages and cultures track nuances of relationships in ways that are completely ignored in English. In English, for instance, I would call my father's older sister, my father's younger sister, my mother's older sister, and my mother's younger sister all "aunt", but other languages might use different names for all of those. Some other language might use the same term for "aunt" or "uncle" interchangeably, or break up that whole set of relatives in a completely different way.

VOW
03-23-2012, 12:31 PM
I just call them "family."


~VOW

Maggie the Ocelot
03-23-2012, 12:57 PM
I am liking more and more the Fililpino method of determining relations.

Your same generation, but not your sibling: Cousin.
Your parents' generation or older, but not your direct ancestor: Uncle/Auntie

Christopher Robin Davies
03-23-2012, 01:07 PM
Second cousins are persons who share at least one great-grandparent. Assuming there is no other convergence, the father of your second-cousin is your first cousin once removed.

Nth cousins without the removal qualifier share at least one common grandparent, great-grandparent, and so forth, in the same level. First cousins share a grandparent. Second cousins share a great-grandparent. Third cousins share a great-great-grandparent. And so on.

Nth cousins Xth removed means that two persons share a common ancestor but are not the same relationship to that ancestor. The child of my first cousin is my first cousin once removed. The child of my first cousin once removed is my first cousin twice removed (not my second cousin). The child of my first cousin twice removed is my first cousin three times removed. And so on.

It is possible to be both a Nth cousin without the removal qualifier and an Nth cousin Xth removed. You see it all the time in Iceland today or in groups of aristocratic familes.

Rucksinator
03-23-2012, 01:16 PM
....... In English, for instance, I would call my father's older sister, my father's younger sister, my mother's older sister, and my mother's younger sister all "aunt", ......

.....Not to mention your father's brothers wife, or your sister's brother's wife....

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Since we're discussing other cultures, it's my understanding that in India they refer to (first) cousins as "brothers" or "sisters", and IME, when dealing with Americans such as myself, "cousin-brother". (I think this was just so that I understood that, while they referred to themselves as "brothers", they were actually what I would consider "first-cousins".) My question is, does this extend to 2nd or 3rd cousins as well? What would an Indian call their 3rd cousin?

Christopher Robin Davies
03-23-2012, 01:35 PM
.....Not to mention your father's brothers wife, or your sister's brother's wife....

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Since we're discussing other cultures, it's my understanding that in India they refer to (first) cousins as "brothers" or "sisters", and IME, when dealing with Americans such as myself, "cousin-brother". (I think this was just so that I understood that, while they referred to themselves as "brothers", they were actually what I would consider "first-cousins".) My question is, does this extend to 2nd or 3rd cousins as well? What would an Indian call their 3rd cousin?

I think it is more accurate to say that in Hindi, the same word is used for "brother" and "male first cousin" so some confusion pops up in a language that has different terms. In the same way in English we use the same term for "brother of a person's mother" as we do for "brother of a person's father" but there are languages that do not if I am remembering correctly. Will look up the language I have in mind when I get home.

Wendell Wagner
03-23-2012, 08:42 PM
Given the enormous number of languages which are native to India (where, for the purpose of this discussion and this discussion only, we will call a language native if it was spoken there already a thousand years ago), not to mention all those which have come to be frequently used in India in the past thousand years, it's not easy to say precisely how they refer to particular relatives.

septimus
03-23-2012, 10:15 PM
I'm familiar with the Thai expressions for kin relationships. Among the eight ways to be an aunt or uncle
{father,mother} 's {older,younger} {sister,brother}
there are four terms, but the mapping may be unexpected. If the aunt/uncle is older than the parent, we don't bother stating which parent. However if the aunt/uncle is younger than the parent, we don't bother stating its gender (i.e. whether it's aunt or uncle).

The words for 'child', 'older sibling, 'younger sibling' are all single syllables in Thai, so 'cousin' is rendered with just 4 syllables as 'child (of) sibling - child (of) sibling.' Since the words for grandchild and even great-grandchild are also single syllables, the Thais would have a way to express even '2nd cousin 1x removed' with just 4 syllables: 'grandchild (of) sibling - gt-grandchild (of) sibling.' However, when I've suggested such an idea to rural Thais while discussing genealogy, I get only blank stares. Instead I'm informed that '2nd cousin' translates as 'distant relative' and '3rd cousin' translates as 'unrelated.'

In the U.S. I had very few 1st or 2nd cousins and wasn't close to them. Mobility is less in rural Thai and there are many interesting relationships. Recently we went to the wedding of my wife's 1st cousin 2x-removed. Since my wife is the youngest daughter of a youngest daughter, while the groom is the oldest child of the oldest child of the oldest child of an older child, the groom is several years older than my daughter but technically he "should" call her 'aunt.'