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Teknonymy is the practice of referring to parents by the names of their children. This practice can be found in many different cultures around the world.

An example of teknonymy can be found among the 'Malays' of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, where parents are known by the name of their first-born child. For instance, a man named Hashim and his wife, Anisa, have a daughter named Sheila. Hashim is now known as "Pak Sheila" (literally, "Sheila's Father") and Anisa is now known as "Mak Sheila" (literally, "Sheila's Mother").

Teknonymy can also be found in:

  • the Korean language;
  • the language of the Madurese people of Indonesia;
  • Balinese culture.[1]
  • the Arab world. For example, if a Saudi man named Hasan has a child named Malik, Hasan will now be informally known as "Abu Malik" (literally, "Malik's father"). "Mother of Malik" is Umm Malik.
  • The Betsileo of Madagascar;[2]
  • West Africa; and,
  • Amazonia.[3]
  • The Kumaoni Language. For example, wife of Ramesh will be informally called as Rameshe Saini (Saini means wife).[clarification needed]
  • the Zuni language

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures,[page needed]. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-09719-7.
  2. ^ Kottack, Conrad (2003?). Betsileo of Madagascar: Culture Summary.[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Making Kin out of Others in Amazonia. JSTOR 3134479. [full citation needed]