#19: Both Sides Now

19.1  Kinship is a matter of perspective. From your point of view, you belong to an extended family…but extended families overlap…and some of the people in your extended family are related to everyone you are, others are not. Their extended family is not the same as yours. For example, you are related to everyone your father is related to…you are related to everyone your uncle and grandfather…not so with your cousins.

 19.2  In assembling a Family History, people tend to focus on one “side” at a time…mother’s or father’s.  But everyone has 2 lines of descent. Chart 59  considers both sides of your immediate family…and that of your 1st cousin, your father’s brother’s son.

chart 59

19.3   Here, individuals in the yellow area are relatives of yours, but not your cousin’s. Those in green are your cousin’s but not yours. The unshaded white middle are the relatives you share, the overlap. If one of your parents has siblings but the other does not, this might not be something you instinctively appreciate…that you are in the middle of your own family tree, but off to the side of someone else’s.

chart 60

 19.4  What we did with 1st cousins in Chart 59, we do with 2nd cousins in Chart 60.

chart 61

19.5  And again with 3rd cousins in Chart 61. This demonstrates dramatically how you and your 3rd cousin, blood relatives to be sure, are really affiliated with 2 different groups of people. In Chart 61 for example, you have 14 great great grandparents, the descendants, siblings, and cousins of which have nothing to do with your 3rd cousin…he in turn has 14 2G grandparents whose descendants, siblings, and cousins aren’t related to you. There is only one pair you are both related to. So while your 3rd cousin is in your family, his Christmas card list and yours are very different indeed. This is why he is a “distant” cousin, even if he lives in the next block.


19.6  We now continue to raid someone else’s mailbag. These are questions posed on a “cousin” page at wiseGeek,  here !#$% . I decided answering each and every one would provide useful real world examples of the connections and relationships people wonder about. You might also notice that my post there does not direct those readers to this blogI tried, but wiseGeek, in its, um, wisdom, does not allow the mention of specific links. We just have to hope these folks can find Related How Again? on their own. And if any of you do, drop me a line, why dontcha?

14 copy

19.7  This ties right in with what we’ve been talking about, and fancy that. And the answer is a definite maybe. Assuming, as we always will with these examples, that the relationships stated are the only ones that exist, the cousin of your cousin could be your cousin if on the same side of the family, as in Chart 62

chart 62

…or not if on the other side, as in Chart 63

chart 63

And in Chart 63 a son of a and b could legally marry a daughter of e and f, since they are not related. Then husband and wife would share a 1st cousin, nez pah? Cool…and completely non-inbred. Next, here’s a trickier one…

27 copy

 19.8  In this Tale of Four, the answer is again: it depends. The first step is to get a clear idea of who your half-sister’s half-sister is in the first place. Now the wording of your question suggests that Chart 64a  is NOT what’s going on, but it is a real possibility nonetheless…your full sister is obviously a half-sister to anyone you’re a half-sister to, and your full sister’s cousin is your cousin. More likely your case is represented by one of the next 2 charts.

chart 64

19.9  In Chart 64b, you will notice that c is the mother of 3 girls, each by a different father, a, b, and d. So in this case, you are a half-sister to your half-sister’s half-sister.

 19.10  But in Chart 64c, the opposite is true…you are of no relation to your half-sister’s half-sister. So how do you stand relative to your best friend, who is your half-sister’s half-sister’s cousin?

 19.11  In the unlikely case of 64a, as we have seen, you are your best friend’s 1st cousin. In the more likely case of 64b, if your best friend is a cousin thru a sibling of c, you are again 1st cousins…if thru a sibling of d, then nothing, unless d and a (your father) are siblings. And in 64c, the likely answer is again no relation, unless there is a relation between your father a and either c or d. But check out Chart 65.

chart 65

19.12  Here your best friend is the green circle filled with pink and labeled “cousin”…she is a 1st cousin to your half-sister’s half-sister since d and e are siblings…but she is also your 1st cousin, since her mother f is the sister of your father a…and this is despite the fact that you are not related in any way to her cousin on the other side, your half-sister’s half-sister. And if you saw that coming, in light of today’s general theme, I’m very proud of YOU. Gold Star, my friend. Next week, more answers the wiseGeek crew can’t see but you can…ciao for nao…

wicked ballsy

chart 66

Chart 66 presents a tag-team deal is unusual, but I wouldn’t suggest it’s never happened. In this foursome, each girl has 2 half-sisters, one thru her mother and one thru her father…and for each, there is one girl who is of no relation at all. So if you take any 2, and ask Are X and Y half-sisters?, the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. But if you take any 3 of them, what happens? For any threesome, there will be an X with 2 half-sisters in that group, and a Y and a Z with one each. But would it be true to say that collectively the trio of X, Y, and Z are half-sisters? The answer surely is No…but you have to think about it…it seems like they just miss, doesn’t it?


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved





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