Dear Stolf: I was helping my granddaughter with her vocabulary homework, and came across an interesting word…”Avuncular,” which means referring to an uncle, or more specifically, to the kindness and generosity typical of a doting uncle. Another word was “Axillary,” referring to the arm-pit, which painted an interesting picture. OK, but anyway, my question is, is there a corresponding word in English referring to an aunt? …from Bags, in Angola, IN
51.1 Dear Bags: Yes, there is…unfortunately, it is too similar to the adjective for mother…”Maternal”…to be able to be used unambiguously in everyday conversation. For the record, it’s “Materternal.” Both of these unusual words are from the Latin for your mother’s siblings…brother and sister…the above chart I found was so well-done, I saw no reason to re-do it. Note that “ego” is the fancy-pants genealogical term for “you”…males are triangles, females are circle, which is standard when you can’t do blue & red/pink as I like to do.
51.2 But since it interested me, in Chart 177 I take the terminology back to preceding generations, and it is thus seen that an uncle is a “little grandfather”…avus/avunculus. Why our uncle/aunt words weren’t derived from the father’s side…Patruuous* and Amiternal perhaps?…I couldn’t determine. Yes, Magna, Maior, Maximus mean great, greater, greatest…Maior being Major, since they didn’t yet have the letter J.
* The Oxford Dictionary does list the word “Patruity” as meaning the state of being an uncle, altho it’s labeled as “rare.” “Amity,” on the other hand, is derived from “amicus,” Latin for “friend,” not from “amita.”
Dear Stolf: Last week, in answering the latest query from the DumbGeek Cousin site, you said and I quote: “Everything stated can’t be true simultaneously, except in the most tortuously convoluted way.” I can’t believe you didn’t then proceed to attack that head on…it doesn’t sound like you. Were you feeling ill? I’ll pray for your quick recovery. …from Sr. Agnes St. Tarantula, Principal, Immaculate Conception Boys Military
51.3 Dear Sister Aggie: You are 100% right…and I stand highly mortified and rightfully chastised…bless you. And thanks to the power of divine intervention, I am feeling better, so here goes…
51.4 The question consisted of 3 statements…
51.5 Now last week in G4BB 50 I passed over that 3rd statement, but it is of course also utterly incorrect. Sure, normally a child does in a sense “join” the 2 sides of his family…they are assumed to be unrelated. But that’s not the case here. The 2 sides of this family are linked all the way back to the multi-G grandfather, as we can see in Chart 178. As a matter of fact, the parents of the questioner are 8th cousins once removed…that’s because the mother is an 8th cousin to the questioner’s paternal grandfather.
51.6 But the whole point of the exercise was that there’s no way of knowing if what I diagrammed really does represent this family, since the other 2 statements are mutually inconsistent…they can’t both be true.
51.7 What should immediately strike you is: if the mother and father go back to a common ancestor by an uneven number of steps, then that ancestor can’t be the same-number-of-G’s to each of them…and consequently, while that ancestor will be a “double grandfather” to the questioner, that “double” won’t then be the same-number-of-G’s either. So that’s the first problem.
51.8 The 2nd problem is just what is meant by “generations” in statement (2). Consider the simplest case of son, father, and grandfather…
3 generations…obviously, because there are 3 individuals.
2 generations…because there are 2 steps from son to grandfather…which is why
the grandfather’s first cousin is the son’s 1st cousin 2x removed.
1 generation…in between the son and grandfather, which is why the grandchildren
who call the grandfather their closest common ancestor are 1st cousins.
51.9 So depending on the context…1, 2, or 3 generations will all have meaning with respect to you, your father, and your grandfather. Now apply these 3 contexts to your grandfather with X number of G’s…
X+3…is the total number of generations, counting everyone including you
and the grandfather.
X+2…is the number of steps between you and the grandfather…his 1st cousin
will be your 1st cousin X+2 times removed.
X+1…the generations between you and the grandfather…if you and Abe count
him as your closest common ancestor, then you and Abe are (X+1)th cousins.
51.10 And if you’re really math-minded, you’ll notice the rule in 51.9 will apply even to the simplest case given in 51.8…since your grandfather has no “greats” in front of “grandfather,” you can take X, the number of G’s, to be 0…and the math checks…the same way the rules for cousins work if you consider your siblings as 0th cousins.
51.11 So how do these X Rules apply to the case in point? If “generations” is meant as total generations, in the X+3 sense, then on the mother’s side X+3=10…this is the questioner’s 7G grandfather…and X+3=11 on the father’s side, so he also an 8G grandfather.
51.12 On the other hand, if “generations” is taken as steps from the questioner to the grandfather, then it’s X+2=10 on the mother’s side, 8G grandfather…and X+2=11 on the father’s side, 9G grandfather…and that’s what I used for my chart…we’ll assume X+1 doesn’t apply here, but who knows?
51.13 And of course, neither 7G/8G nor 8G/9G jibes with the 10G stated in (1)…10G means 13 total generations or 12 steps…so the whole thing is completely screwy.
51.14 Which is why, sometimes the answer has to be: I can’t answer that question because it isn’t coherent enough to have an answer. But dear Sister Aggie, that’s not what you asked, it is? You wanted me to sketch it out so that all this conflicting information is in fact simultaneously true. And by this time, it should be obvious that 2 lines of descent…of either 10 and 11 total generations or steps…isn’t going to work. So we simply add another line, and get Chart 179…
51.15 As you can see, all that was needed was to make the questioner’s parents 9th cousins once removed, besides the 8th cousins once removed they were in Chart 178…which is to say, questioner’s mother’s parents are now 7th cousins twice removed. Yeah, I knew that. Yeah, I know you knew that. Next week, the bottomless mailbag continues…by-ee.
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