Flashcards for Nature of Kinship
Topic 5:  Naming Systems: Part I
(12 cards)

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Copyright © 2004 by Dennis O'Neil. All rights reserved.

The name for the most common kin naming system in North America and Europe today.


The kin naming system in which cousins are lumped together and given the same kin name, while siblings are distinguished from cousins and given gender specific kin names as illustrated below.


The descent pattern of most societies that use the Eskimo kin naming system.

bilateral (or cognatic) descent

The two kin naming systems in which both ego's mother's and father's collateral relatives are considered equally important. That is to say, no distinction is made between relatives on the mother's and father's side of the family. This is reflected in the use of the same gender specific kin names for them.

Eskimo and Hawaiian

The number of different basic kin naming systems used around the world.


The kinds of societies that use the Eskimo kin naming system. (Hint: the common denominator for these societies is an economy that forces the nuclear family to be mostly independent.)

most technologically complex societies and foragers living in harsh environments

The least complex kin naming system. (Hint: this system uses only four different kin terms of reference.)


The kin naming system in which relatives are distinguished only by generation and gender (e.g., ego's father and all male relatives in his generation have the same kin name, and ego's mother and all female relatives in her generation are referred to by the same kin term as illustrated below.).


The region of the world where the Hawaiian kin naming system is most commonly used.

Polynesia (islands of the South Central Pacific Ocean)

map of the Pacific Ocean with Hawaii, New Zealand, and Polynesia highlighted

The most complex kin naming system. (Hint: with this system, most kinsmen are not lumped together under the same terms of reference. Each category of relative is given a distinct term based on genealogical distance from ego and on the side of the family. There can be eight different cousin terms, all of whom are distinguished from ego's brother and sister as illustrated below.)


The kin naming system that has been traditionally used most commonly in Sudan and Turkey. (Hint: these are societies with patrilineal descent and considerable complexity in terms of social class and political power.)


The general term for a culturally defined set of rules for terms of address and reference to be used for specific categories of relatives. (Hint: there are 6 types of these systems used around the world.)

kin naming system (or kin terminological system)