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Rules against marrying affine relatives (in-laws and step-relatives)
Posted: Posted July 2nd by chiarizio
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In what societies that you know about is a person prohibited from marrying a relative’s step-relative or relative-in-law?
Or a step-relative’s or relative-in-law’s relative?

For instance, sibling’s spouse’s sibling?

Or more generally, a sibling’s or parent’s or child’s step-child or step-parent or step-sibling or sibling-in-law or child-in-law or parent-in-law?
Or, a step-(parent/child/sibling)’s or (parent/child/sibling)-in-law’s parent or child or sibling?

If I understand Wikipedia correctly, modern Roman Catholic canon law prohibits a man from marrying any blood-relative of his deceased or former wife whom her brother couldn’t marry because of consanguinity, and prohibits a woman from marrying any blood-relative of her deceased or former husband whom his sister couldn’t marry because of consanguinity.

But, in the past, they prohibited a man marrying his brother’s wife’s sister or his sister’s husband’s sister, or in general a consanguineous relative’s current or deceased or former spouse’s consanguineous relative. However the rule now is “affinity does not beget affinity”. If two people marry, he is now related to all her blood-relatives, and she is now related to all his blood-relatives, but his relatives are not necessarily now related to her relatives; and most of them mostly aren’t.

In Ireland and Great Britain there have been rules about marrying a parent-in-law or step-parent or child-in-law or step-child or sibling-in-law or step-sibling. But as I understand it most of them have been dropped, by the time the UK joined the EU, if not earlier.

———

Does anyone know whether any culture has ever had rules against marrying an -in-law’s -in-law?
Or a step-‘s step-?
Or an in-law’s step- or a step-‘s -in-law?


There are 5 Replies


In latest Reptigan, the fourth and last evolution of their rules about impediments to marriage, are going to prohibit anyone six or fewer degrees away, counting as follows:
A parent or child or full-sibling adds 1 to the degree;
A grandparent or half-sibling or grandchild or spouse, or parent’s full-sibling or full-sibling’s child, adds 2 to the degree;
A step-parent or step-child or adopted parent or adopted child, or parent-in-law or child-in-law or full-sibling-in-law (whether spouse’s full-sibling or full-sibling’s spouse), adds 3 to the degree.

So for instance in latest Reptigan I couldn’t marry my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law. He’s 3 degrees away from me (assuming he’s my full-sister’s husband or my late wife’s or ex-wife’s or current wife’s full-brother), and she’s 3 degrees away from him (similar assumptions), so she’s only six degrees away from me; just barely too close.
But if one of the sibling-ships involved is a half-siblinghood instead of a full- one, then she’d be 7 degrees away, and would be “fair game”.

So I’m wondering how realistic it might be. Maybe also how naturalistic. And how practical or pragmatic (maybe).


Posted July 2nd by chiarizio
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So I’m wondering how realistic it might be. Maybe also how naturalistic. And how practical or pragmatic (maybe).


Those are two amazingly distinct questions!

Realistic? Well, we've seen all kinds of examples of customs regarding who can marry whom (or what). ACADEW. I'd say the above is sufficiently realistic.

Practical? Now, this is a rather different kettle of kippers. In a fifty-million-star-system-spanning Galactic Empire, it should, at least in theory, not be at all difficult to find one girl out of the 473 squintetrilliard citizens of the Empire that isn't related within 6 degrees as described.

On the other hand, in a vast and sparsely populated steppeworld a lone warrior of a semi-nomadic queendom far even from the fringiest edge of the distant marches of what passes for civilisation might be hard put to find a girl more distantly related than his half-sister. But hey, if she's cute and amenable...



Posted July 3rd by elemtilas
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@elemtilas:
Thanks!

The rules for Early Adpihi, Late Adpihi, Early Reptigan, and Late Reptigan, are all different.
Each change involves strengthening or adding some restrictions while loosening or abandoning others.
They’re all supposed to be more compatible with greater (ie more numerous) population; and/or greater contact between peoples due for instance to improved technology for travel or long-distance communication; and/or greater diversity of the populace.
The fourth version is the only one where affinity is any problem.

———

@linguistcat:

You might enjoy https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/expositor/series8/04-020.pdf.
It’s from 1911-1914.
They mention the Koran!



Edited July 3rd by chiarizio
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Posted July 3rd by elemtilas
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@elemtilas:
In a fifty-million-star-system-spanning Galactic Empire, it should, at least in theory, not be at all difficult to find one girl out of the 473 squintetrilliard citizens of the Empire that isn't related within 6 degrees as described.


Actually (don’t you just love comments that start with “actually”?), if you count from EGO back to a recentish common ancestor, then forward to ALTER, counting one degree for each child-to-parent or parent-to-child link, and don’t count any non-biological relationship (-in-law or step- or adopted or god- -kin-), even seven or eight degrees was usually not too burdensome even for most Roman or Chinese villagers or townsmen. (That is, if the shortest path from EGO to ALTER were seven (Roman) or eight (Chinese) hops or fewer, they were consanguineous; otherwise, not.)

Medieval Christian proscriptions counted affinities and spiritual kinships (godparents and godchildren and godsibs, and for all I know compadres and commadres). Also, depending on times and places, if a man married a widow or a woman married a widower, suddenly they were not only related to every blood-relative of their new spouse, but also to every blood-relative of the new spouse’s deceased spouse.

And they only counted back to the most recent common ancestor. So if any of EGO’s ancestors in the last seven generations were the same as any of ALTER’s ancestors in the last seven generations, they were too consanguineous. So they could be 14 degrees apart by the older Roman civil law or Chinese law. And still be too consanguineous!. They’d be considered related in the 7th degree.

If everyone’s monogamous anyway, and you don’t count chains with more than one affine (step- or -in-law) link in them, and even then only if it’s either the first link or the last link, seven or eight degrees shouldn’t be too prohibitive in, for instance, medieval Byzantium/Constantinople/New Rome. If groom and bride happen to have both been married before, one of them twice before, there might be more complications, but they might be circumventible.

In (Late) Reptigan, OTOH, people typically marry three times, and probably have two spouses alive at the same time. And I’m counting chains with as many as three -in-law or two step- affine links. So there are two or three chances for an exponential growth in the number of relatives within six or fewer degrees. Even though I’m not counting any other fictive kinships, such as god-relatives.

So it may be fortunate that Reptigan is by that time an interstellar (but not galactic!) empire/republic/representative democracy, with an active Space Corps that a lot of young people spend a few years in, and many not-too-old people spend a career, or half a career, in. Basically everyone either is in the space corps, or was in it, or will be in it, or has a sibling or half-sibling or step-sibling who is, or was, or will be, in it. And almost everyone either is making or has made a career in it, or has a friend or a relative or a friend’s relative or a relative’s friend, who either is making or has made a career in the Space Corps.

That means that, when you’re looking for a spouse, there’s a good chance that your relatives have a friend who is friends with a family friend of some other eligible spouse-seeking-person, who for all anyone can tell might be a good match for you, but who has never been on your planet, and whose planet you have never been on. So there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be within six degrees of you by the Reptigan count.

Or, at least, I hope that’s true. Or I hope that if I wrote a story claiming it was true the reader wouldn’t choke on trying to swallow it.

———

Something I don’t understand:
In the systems that just count back however many generations to the most recent common ancestor, what do you do if one of the descendants is closer to that ancestor than the other?
For instance, if EGO’s grandfather is ALTER’s great-grandfather, is that 2nd degree or 3rd?
Or if EGO’s grandfather’s grandfather is ALTER’s great-grandfather, is that 4th degree or 3rd?



Edited July 8th by chiarizio
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