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Typology of Kinship Terms

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Larysa Nikolayeva

A kinship term is defined as a lexical item which is used to name a person who is connected by certain blood relations with other persons or a group of persons. Kinship term systems were first studied scientifically in the latter half of the 19th century by the American anthropological school, whose scholars researched the culture of inhabitants of the North American continent, often drawing on linguistic data from many Indian tribes. This book presents an analysis of structural and semantic peculiarities of kinship terms in forty languages belonging to ten families. It suggests general typological classification of kinship terms and semantic classification of reciprocal kinship terms. A number of typological generalizations – universals – of a probabilistic nature are formulated regarding the structure and semantics of kinship terms.
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Section 2: Structural Types of Kinship Terms

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← 36 | 37 → SECTION 2STRUCTURAL TYPES OF KINSHIP TERMS ← 37 | 38 →

← 38 | 39 → Kinship terms in different languages have a different morphemic composition, cf. Uk. meщa ‘wife’s mother,’ En. mother ‘mother’ – mother-in-law ‘a) husband’s mother, b) wife’s mother,’ Waal. buguy ‘a) husband’s father, b) wife’s father’ – buguydargan ‘a) husband’s mother, b) wife’s mother’ (Crowley 1977, 37). Thus, in the Ukrainian language and in Hindi these are root KT, while in English they are lexicalized word combinations, and in the Waalubal language they are double-suffix kinship terms.

This chapter examines the morphological structure of kinship terms for the purpose of: a) calculating the structural types of KT, and also establishing their realization in the selected languages, b) establishing the salient features of the technique of forming KT, c) revealing the typological productivity of certain structural types of KT; d) typological classification of KT, e) formulating typological generalizations of a probabilistic nature.

The presence of certain methods of forming KT depends on the derivational technique existing in one or another language (Kaliuščenko 2000, 17). It is known that the word has a different structure in languages of different types, and it is the morphological peculiarities of different languages that lie at the basis of typological classification. So, affixation is widespread in the Indo-European and Australian languages selected for this study, while composition is widespread in the Altaic languages. Linguists assert that there are no “pure” language types in nature (Arakin 1989(1), 16;...

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