I [heart] Dyadic Kin Terms

I’ve just been reading Julian Pitt-Rivers on dyadic kinship terms and would like to say, “Thank you Julian. You explained the concept and associated social forms very clearly. It was very useful.”


Pitt-Rivers, 'The Kith and the Kin' (in) Goody, Jack (ed) 1973, 'The Character of Kinship' , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 89-107.


Coupled with Merlan & Heath (1982) and Nicholas Evans (2003) dyadic kin terms just became a whole lot more excitingly interesting. The following is from Nicholas Evans 2003, ‘Context, Culture and Structuration in the Languages of Australia’ (in) Annual Review of Anthropology, 32, p. 25:


‘It has been widely asserted that the presence of “kintactic” categories in Australian languages reflects a cultural emphasis on kinship, and kin-derived socio-centric categories like moieties and section, as the foundation of social relations. However, we have surprising few accounts of how structuration of kin categories into the grammar could have actually occurred.

One development that is is to account for is the Martuthunira type, which merely involves an extension of a cross-linguistically common grammatical category – collective/reciprocals – to take on a new sense same-generation relations between some pair of clausal participants. Dench (1987) argues that this extension would have been motivated by habitual cooperation in ceremonial matters on the part of harmonic relations: In stereotyped descriptions of ceremonies, the way labour is divided up on the basis of generational moiety groupings means that descriptions of activities collectively undertaken would, concurrently, be descriptions of activities undertaken by members of the harmonic generations, setting up the new use of this category.’


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