#127: GEEK and re-GEEK


127.1  A regular feature here is when I answer kinship questions posed at this website: dopeyGEEK. Well, I do it there too…but can’t include diagrams, which to me tell the story. But before we get to those, and speaking of diagrams, here’s one I found on the net…


127.2  Pretty elaborate, nez pah? Lotta work went into that, boy. I did find one mistake…can you find it? Answer below in today’s Wicked Ballsy. I should say that it isn’t a major mistake, just a niggling inconsistency…and no, it isn’t the use of the word “thrice.” That’s a real word, if somewhat old-fashioned…I think the last time I encountered it was in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum…when Pseudolus exclaims: “He raped Thrace thrice?” And BTW…as far as I know, the sequence once, twice, thrice ends there. I’ve seen it claimed that fourice is in the King James Bible, but 4 difference concordances I checked couldn’t find it.

127.3  So forward into GEEKworld…what’s my brother-in-law’s cousin to me? Your “brother-in-law” can be 2 different things: your wife’s brother or your sister’s husband. In either case, this BIL is not a blood relative of yours unless he was your relative before the marriage that made you BIL’s…say for example your sister marries her 4th cousin, who is of course also your 4th cousin…now your 4th cousin is also your BIL.

127.4    Whenever there are 2 BIL’s, one is a husband and one is a brother. In Chart 441a, you are the husband. In the broadest sense, all of your wife’s blood relatives are your in-laws. In a narrower sense, it’s generally only her immediate family that are called “-in-law”…father, mother, siblings. For more distant direct relations and all collateral relations, customs vary: “cousin-in-law,” “cousin by marriage,” “my wife’s cousin,” or even “my cousin” are commonly heard. But whatever they’re called, such a cousin is only your relative by marriage, if not literally an in-law.

chart 441

127.5  In Chart 441b, you are the brother, not the husband…and things are a little different. I have never heard anybody call the blood relatives of their sibling’s spouse their in-laws. They are your sibling’s in-laws, not yours…the theory being the person who marries gets in-laws. True, you got a brother-in-law without getting married…he’s your sister’s husband…but that’s just reflexive…if you’re his BIL, he’s your BIL. Other than that, I wouldn’t even say his cousin is related to you by marriage…I’d say he’s your sister’s cousin by marriage, not yours. But then again, you really are free to do and say what you want…nobody’s gonna bounce rocks off your head…not around where I live anyway… 😉 😉

chart 441 c

127.6  And yes, some people will even consider the husbands of sisters to be BIL’s to each other. I venture to say that’s unusual…I know in my case, altho I’m not married, I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters who are…their spouses, all my siblings-in-law, do not appear to see any special relationship between or amongst themselves. Looking at Chart 441c, the cousin of your wife’s sister’s husband is your wife’s sister’s cousin by marriage…perhaps your sister’s, but definitely not yours.

chart 442

127.7  This next one is similar…by marrying Michelle’s brother, your mother now has Michelle as a SIL, as well as neighbor. So you have a new step-father…and step- trumps -in-law…which is to say, if a relative of your generation gets married, you’re dealing with in-laws or relatives by marriage. But if your parent is the one who marries, then we use the step-parent/step-child terminology. The difference being that when your parent marries, there is more likelihood, especially if you’re still a child, that the new spouse will act as your surrogate parent…if you’re the one getting married, or your sibling is, the parents of the spouse will likely just be people you have to invite to parties. Can Michelle be your “step-aunt”? If you want, yeah…but I wouldn’t say it’s universal…still, people will know what you mean when you say it.

chart 443

127.8   Here a chart is nice, but this is one you can do in your head….grandparents are 1st cousins…their children, the parents of you and your girlfriend, are 2nd cousins…and their children, you and your girlfriend, are 3rd cousins.

127.9  Moving on…I generally use 2 kinds of charts…what I call a Family Tree links 2 people who are married…a Parental Tree does not…it only connects parent to child. And as in Chart 444, both can be used in one diagram, and in this case it comes in mighty handy. Otherwise, you’d need 2 different ways to connect parents to each other…one if they’re married (double line?) and one if they’re not (single line?) I’ve seen it done that way, but I find Chart 444  to be pretty self-explanatory.

chart 444

127.10  I’ve given everybody names to make it simpler…and naturally I’m assuming cousin Cal is not also your blood nephew, as he would be if he were Ned’s cousin thru another sibling of you and your sister. Here Cal is Ned’s cousin “on the other side.” The thing is, we can’t say anybody is related by marriage, because there simply isn’t one. No relation by blood, no relation by marriage…no relation period. You can date Cal…or Bubba…heck, even Joe if you have a mind to…and best of luck!

chart 445

127.11  Finally…when 2 members of an older generation are of the same generation…they are siblings, half-siblings, or numbered cousins…and 2 of their respective direct descendants are related to them by a different combination of greats and grands, then we automatically know it’s a case of cousins removed. It’s just a matter of counting down carefully between the generations. Doing that in Chart 445, Jim and Jane are 2nd cousins once removed. Can they get married? I know of no jurisdiction anywhere in the world than restricts marriage beyond 1st cousins or the equivalent…a Coefficient of Relationship of 1/8. Here it’s 1/64…so Jim and Jane are way in the clear. Some religions get can picky…if you follow the rules closely, check with yours.

127.12  As to the genetic status of children of such a union, let’s do a little math. Among geneticists, the consensus is that the chance of a serious birth defect from completely (technically not possible!) unrelated parents is about 2.5%. For 1st cousins, it’s double that, about 5%. The probability from the “base line” of unrelated individuals has increased by 100%…that is, take 100% of 2.5 and add it to 2.5…you get 2.5 + 2.5 = 5. That 100% increase comes from the fact that 1st cousins are related by 1/8.

127.13  2nd cousins are a quarter as related as 1st cousins, or 1/32. Assume the % increase is also a quarter less…that would be an increase of 100/4 = 25%…and 25% of 2.5 is about .63, so the chance of defects for 2nd cousins is 2.5 + .63 = 3.13%.

127.14  And 2nd cousins once removed are half as related as 2nd cousins, so that’s a % increase of 12.5%…and 12.5% of 2.5 is about .31, so the chance of a defect for Jim and Jane is 2.5 + .31 = 2.81%. I think that’s small enough not to worry about…but you, or they, must be the judge. Next week, more Q & A’s…plus ravioli! Chow 4 now…

wicked ballsy

Screen shot 2013-07-06 at 9.25.04 PM

I prefer GRAND for uncle and nephew…others like GREAT uncle and nephew. Whether this chart-marker meant to have it both ways I can’t say. I do know that based on Google frequencies, GREAT for uncle and GRAND for nephew must have a substantial following…but then hybrids are the thing today, right?


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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