Niece and nephew

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In the lineal kinship system used in the English-speaking world, a niece or nephew is a child of the subject's sibling or sibling-in-law. The converse relationship, the relationship from the niece or nephew's perspective, is that of an aunt or uncle. A niece is female, while a nephew is male, with the term nibling used in place of the gender specific niece and nephew in some specialist literature.[1]

As aunt/uncle and niece/nephew are separated by two generations they are an example of second-degree relationship and are 25% related.

Lexicology[edit]

The word nephew is derived from the French word neveu which is derived from the Latin nepotem.[2] The term nepotism, meaning familial loyalty, is derived from this Latin term.[3] Niece entered Middle English from the Old French word nece, which also derives from Latin nepotem.[4] The word nibling is a neologism suggested by Samuel Martin in 1951 as a cover term for "nephew or niece"; it is not common outside of specialist literature.[1] Sometimes in discussions involving analytic material or in abstract literature, terms such as male nibling and female nibling are preferred to describe nephews and nieces respectively.[5] Terms such as nibling are also sometimes viewed as a gender-neutral alternative to terms which may be viewed as perpetuating the overgenderization of the English language.[6]

These French-derived terms displaced the Middle English nyfte, nift, nifte, from Old English nift, from Proto-Germanic *niftiz (“niece”); and the Middle English neve, neave, from Old English nefa, from Proto-Germanic *nefô (“nephew”).[7][8][9][10]

Culture[edit]

Traditionally, a nephew was the logical recipient of his uncle's inheritance if the latter did not have a successor. A nephew might have more rights of inheritance than the uncles daughter.[11][12]

In social environments that lacked a stable home or environments such as refugee situations, uncles and fathers would equally be assigned responsibility for their sons and nephews.[13]

Among parents, some cultures have assigned equal status in their social status to daughters and nieces. This is, for instance, the case in Indian communities in Mauritius,[14] and the Thai Nakhon Phanom Province, where the transfer of cultural knowledge such as weaving was distributed equally among daughters, nieces and nieces-in-law by the Tai So community,[15] and some Garifuna people that would transmit languages to their nieces.[16] In some proselytizing communities the term niece was informally extended to include non-related younger female community members as a form of endearment.[17] Among some tribes in Manus Province of Papua New Guinea, women's roles as sisters, daughters and nieces may have taken precedence over their marital status in social importance.[18]

Additional terms[edit]

  • A niece-in-law or nephew-in-law is the spouse of one's nephew/niece, or the niece of one's spouse.[citation needed]
  • A co-niece-in-law or co-nephew-in-law is the spouse of one's niece-in-law or nephew-in-law.[citation needed]
  • A sororal niece or sororal nephew is the child of one's sister.[citation needed]
  • A fraternal niece or fraternal nephew is the child of one's brother.[citation needed]
  • A half-niece or half-nephew is the child of one's half-sibling, related by 12.5%.

In some cultures and family traditions, it is common to refer to cousins with one or more removals to a newer generation using some form of the word niece or nephew. For more information see cousin. For instance:

In archaic terminology, a maternal nephew is called a sister-son, emphasizing the importance as a person's nearest male relative should he have no brothers or sons of his own.[citation needed] Sister-son is used to describe some knights who are nephews to King Arthur and is imitated by J. R. R. Tolkien, especially in lists of Kings of Rohan or dwarves where the sister-son is also heir. Sister-daughter is a less common parallel term for niece.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Conklin, Harold C. (1964). "Ethnogenealogical method". In Ward Hunt Goodenough (ed.). Explorations in Cultural Anthropology: Essays in Honor of George Peter Murdock. McGraw-Hill. p. 35.
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  3. ^ Meakins, Felicity (2016). Loss and Renewal: Australian Languages Since Colonisation. p. 91.
  4. ^ "niece, n.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. June 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  5. ^ Keen, Ian. "Definitions of kin." Journal of Anthropological Research 41.1 (1985): 62-90.
  6. ^ Hill, Jane H., and Kenneth C. Hill. "Culture Influencing Language: Plurals of Hopi Kin Terms in Comparative Uto‐Aztecan Perspective." Journal of linguistic Anthropology 7.2 (1997): 166-180.
  7. ^ Buck, Carl Darling (3 July 2008). A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226228860 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Ringe, Donald (31 August 2006). From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic: A Linguistic History of English. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780191536335 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Jones, William Jervis (19 March 1990). German kinship terms, 750-1500: documentation and analysis. W. de Gruyter. ISBN 9780899255736 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (19 March 1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781884964985 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Stahl, Anne (2007). Victims who Do Not Cooperate with Law Enforcement in Domestic Violence Incidents. p. 19.
  12. ^ Chakraborty, Eshani. "Marginality, Modes of insecurity and Indigenous Women of Northern Bangladesh" (PDF). calternatives.org. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  13. ^ Atlani, Laàtitia; Rousseau, C…Cile (2000). "The Politics of Culture in Humanitarian Aid to Women Refugees Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence". Transcultural Psychiatry. McGill University. 37 (3): 435–449. doi:10.1177/136346150003700309.
  14. ^ Hazareesingh, K. "Comparative Studies in Society and History — The Religion and Culture of Indian Immigrants in Mauritius and the Effect of Social Change — Cambridge Journals Online". Comparative Studies in Society and History. 8 (2): 241–257. doi:10.1017/S0010417500004023. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Knowledge Management on Local Wisdom of Tai-so Community Weaving Culture in Phone Sawan District, Nakhon Phanom Province" (PDF). Npu.ac.th. Retrieved 11 April 2016.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Language transmission in a Garifuna community: Challenging current notions about language death". Dialnet.unirioja.es. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Divine Domesticities : Christian Paradoxes in Asia and the Pacific". Oapen.org. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  18. ^ Gustaffson, Berit (1999). Traditions and Modernities in Gender Roles: Transformations in Kinship and Marriage Among the M'Buke from Manus Province. p. 7.

External links[edit]