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Kinship & Inheritance Systems in a Hermaphroditic Specie - Gtx0 ?>


Kinship & Inheritance Systems in a Hermaphroditic Specie
Posted: Posted September 24th, 2010 by chiarizio
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Given a species in which one person's father can be another persons mother (for instance, either all adults are hermaphrodites all the time, or they alternate between male and female with no rhythm or in idiosyncratic and unsynchronized rhythms), kinship terms are likely to be different than they are for any human cultures.

Each person will have a sire (or father) and a dam (or mother) who will be different from each other.

A person's offspring may either be those they* have begotten or those they* have conceived and borne.

*(English's only common or epicene (both masculine and feminine) personal pronouns are non-singular. I don't want to use a neuter (neither masculine nor feminine) pronoun like "it", because it connotes inanimacy or non-humanity.)

In "The Left Hand of Darkness" Ursula K. LeGuin suggests that Ego call those Alters whom they have sired "sons" and those Alters whom they have borne "daughters".

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Ego's siblings can either share both parents with Ego (full-siblings) or share just one parent with Ego (half-siblings).


I. If Alter shares both parents with Ego, either
I.A. Ego's sire is Alter's sire and Ego's dam is Alter's dam, or
I.B. Ego's sire is Alter's dam and Ego's dam is Alter's sire.

We might call the first kind (I.A.) "parallel-siblings" and the second kind (I.B.) "cross-siblings", or something.

It is my expectation that since someone of this species cannot distinguish between male siblings and female siblings, they will regard it as more important than we do to distinguish relative age.

So they'd have a term for each of
I.A.1 "older parallel-sibling"
I.A.2 "younger parallel-sibling"
I.B.1 "older cross-sibling"
I.B.2 "younger cross-sibling"

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II. If Alter shares exactly one parent with Ego, then either:
II.A. Ego's sire is Alter's sire (Alter is Ego's sire's son), or
II.B. Ego's sire is Alter's dam (Alter is Ego's sire's daughter), or
II.C. Ego's dam is Alter's sire (Alter is Ego's dam's son), or
II.D. Ego's dam is Alter's dam (Alter is Ego's dam's daughter).

I believe in this species half-siblings will be even more common than they are among humans; it may be that the next time both members of the parental couple are ready to mate, both are male or both are female; or, one may be pregnant while the other is ready to mate.

They may, then, distinguish between older half-siblings and younger half-siblings.
II.A.1. my sire's son older than me
II.A.2. my sire's son younger than me
II.B.1. my sire's daughter older than me
II.B.2. my sire's daughter younger than me
II.C.1. my dam's son older than me
II.C.2. my dam's son younger than me
II.D.1. my dam's daughter older than me
II.D.2. my dam's daughter younger than me

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    INHERITANCE:

    It makes sense for a person's heir to be their oldest daughter; that is, the heir is the oldest offspring of whom the decedent is the dam.

    That might mean that quite often a couple's property would not all go to one heir. If two of their offspring were each other's cross-siblings, each of the offspring might inherit all of their dam's property but none of their sire's property.


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    MECHANISMS by which such a kind of hermaphroditism might work:
    I haven't got any thoughts yet that I'm sure I like.

    But, if they alternate between male and female, what if they're mammals, and only males lactate? What if the process of discharging the lochia continues until the entire uterus and fallopian tubes are "vestigial", and the dam can produce proper milk instead of just colostrum only when they have begun to grow male organs?

    I'm not sure that there wouldn't be selective advantage to having their rhythms synch up so that whenever one was male the other was female and vice-versa.

    OTOH they could both be fully-functioning potential sires and also both be fully-functioning potential dams at the same time all the time. Which one is sire and which one is dam could be determined when they mate. It might be random as far as they know. They might have no choice in the matter, nor even any knowledge of which way it turned out until it became clear that one of them was pregnant.


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    So;
    What does anyone think?

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    I've been thinking about similar things for the Tarn, but with the added snaffu that Tarn almost always live in Harems, go through three phases (F/Parth/M), and that Harems have more than one possible composition. (One male+some parths+some females+all their collective children vs one male+some females+their children w/ a related Harem of some parths+their collective children. Dunno if there would be any chance of females and parths w/ related group of males, because of their change of sex is non-reversible and partially controlled by age and partially controlled by age.) But, for Tarn the modified possibilities are these:

    I. Ego and Alter share two parents. This can only happen if Ego's sire is Alter's sire and Ego's dam is Alter's dam. Either Ego or Alter might be older.

    II. Ego and Alter share one parent.
    IIa. Ego and Alter are both products of parthenogenesis. In effect, Ego's dam and sire are the same person, and is the same person as Alter's dam/sire. Either might be older. (In effect, full siblings)
    IIb. Ego is the product of parthenogenesis and their dam/sire is Alter's dam. Alter would be obligatorily older than Ego. (In effect, half-siblings)
    IIc. Ego is the product of parthenogenesis and their dam/sire is Alter's sire. Ego would be older. (In effect, half-siblings)
    IId. Ego's dam is Alter's dam, but they have different sires. This could happen if the resident male died or left permanently for some reason, and a new male took charge. Either might be older. (In effect, half-siblings)
    IIe. Ego's sire is Alter's sire, but they have different dams. More likely since the male would have multiple wives. Either might be older. (In effect, half-siblings, but might be considered full siblings)
    IIf. Ego's dam is Alter's sire. Ego would be older. (In effect, half-siblings)

    And there are the inverses of these, of course.

    The terms for Alter's relationship to Ego in IIb would always specify that Alter is older, while IIc and IIf would alway specify that Alter is younger. Other relationship terms could specify it in some cultures and not in others.

    Posted September 24th, 2010 by bloodb4roses
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    I think you're thinking too narrowly about the biological aspects of the naming system, rather than the cultural aspects:

    - which parent takes on the nurturing and protection of the offspring in their infancy/childhood? That's the parent more likely to be referred to as the equivalent of 'mother'.

    - which parent takes a very close interest in the offspring and is more likely to introduce them to dangerous and unexpected situations in a safe way? That parent is more likely to be called 'father'.

    - you could add more terms based on cultural roles while ignoring biological origins: grandfather/leader; grandmother/teacher etc.

    On the sibling front, again, it might be more worthwhile looking at it in cultural rather than genetic terms - those siblings who share an infancy in the same household might be called 'brother/sister/sibling' while those who share a parent but grow up in a different household could be called 'cousin'. 'Uncle/aunt' and 'nephew/niece' words could be used to refer to older and younger siblings or half siblings (we use uncle/aunt in English speaking societies to refer to any older person with a particularly close social (even non-sexual) relationship with either/both of the parents).

    As to hermaphrodism, think in terms of energy and efficiency. It takes up a lot of energy to produce sperm and eggs, and a huge amount of energy to take time to protect/raise any offspring. I'm assuming you're looking at a species that follows a K-selection reproduction strategy (like humans)? In which case I don't think full hermaphrodism is a good energy/efficiency solution. However, sex changes based on age, dominance in the social hierarchy and/or environmental factors (such as food supply) could work.

    Hope these thoughts help ...

    Posted September 25th, 2010 by Rik
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    Rik
     

    I had a post but accidentally closed the tab.

    Basically, in the society where Harems are made of all three adult life stages, anyone born in the same Harem (whether they actually share parents or not with you) are your siblings. Anyone who shares one parent with you, but from a different stage of that parent's life, is a near cousin. Someone who's parent is a sibling of one of your parents is a far cousin.

    And Tarn in this society have three names. Order hasn't been decided, but they are one's personal name, mother's personal name and father/Harem leader's personal name. So, if someone's matronym or patronym are the same as either of yours, you're related. And same if either of your parents share a patronym with either of theirs.

    Still need to work it out for the Tarn with two related Harems of male-female and parth.

    Posted September 25th, 2010 by bloodb4roses
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    I have been thinking of something like this for the "darinan".
    For kinship terms, I am leaning towards: (darinan family units normally consists of between 2 and 5 adults)
    Parents: mother, father, step parent
    Children: not sure what I should call them in English, but "inverse" of above.
    Siblings: parallel-, cross-, (half-,) step-sibling

    Inheritance:
    Why not distribute it equally between all children?

    Mechanisms:
    Darinans are capable of being both at the same time, but will usually shut down the system(s) that are not currently needed.


    - which parent takes on the nurturing and protection of the offspring in their infancy/childhood? That's the parent more likely to be

    referred to as the equivalent of 'mother'.

    - which parent takes a very close interest in the offspring and is more likely to introduce them to dangerous and unexpected situations in a safe

    way? That parent is more likely to be called 'father'.
    That is assuming they have this kind of "formalised" role-division, which is far

    from given.

    Posted September 26th, 2010 by intermundi
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    Inheritance:
    Why not distribute it equally between all children?


    Dividing estate property has the effect of destroying the estate over a number of generations, and resulting in otherwise small and powerless divisions that see the loss of a noble family, in effect.

    Also, this might strongly encourage the older sibling to kill younger siblings (or contriving accidents for them), rather than protecting them. Particularly in any era where, once the estate has fallen, one is nothing more than a peasant.

    Of course, this all depends on what kind of world one is living in, economically speaking.

    Posted September 26th, 2010 by Blake
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    Blake
     

    In Tarn, as far as they "own" territory, it would go with the Harem as a whole to the next male, who would normally be the most dominant/highest ranked parth. In the case of the Tarn who live in a separate Harem when they are parth, they might have a prearranged deal with one of the more distantly related parth Harems in the area to find the oldest/highest ranked parth in THAT Harem to be the new male, and he would bring new wives into the Harem from the adult (female) children of the other parths.

    Posted September 26th, 2010 by bloodb4roses
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    Ursula LeGuin is brilliant, but I would invert her terminology: mother is the one what birthed you, father is the other one.

    From that, your daughters are the children you gave birth to, your sons are the children your mate gave birth to from your insemination.

    Other children birthed from your mother would be sisters, children birthed from your father would be brothers. Then you'd have maternal and paternal aunts and uncles.

    If matings aren't exclusive this could get real complicated, really fast. At best, you might be trading gender as identity for gender as relationship.

    I would assume familial descent to be matrilineal as a rule. It pays to know who the parent is and there shouldn't be any of the sexual asymmetries of power that drive patrilineal descent in most human cultures.

    Given that this describes my Skavoon to a tee(the non-exclusive term, no less :-\ ), this bears some thinking.

    Posted September 27th, 2010 by su_liam
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    su_liam
     

    Ursula LeGuin is brilliant, but I would invert her terminology: mother is the one what birthed you, father is the other one.

    From that, your daughters are the children you gave birth to, your sons are the children your mate gave birth to from your insemination.
    That's actually what LeGuin's terminology is; she redefined "daughter" to mean "child whom I bore" and "son" to mean "child whom I sired".

    Other children birthed from your mother would be sisters,
    That makes sense.

    children birthed from your father would be brothers.
    That probably makes sense too.

    What about children sired (i.e. begotten) by your mother -- people whose father is your mother? Call them "cousins"?

    And, among your "sisters" (people whose mother is your own mother), would you distinguish those who also have the same father you have, from those who don't? And/or, would you distinguish those older than you, from those younger than you?

    And, among your "brothers" (people whose mother is your father), would you distinguish those whose father is your mother from those who have only one parent in common (i.e. your father, their mother) with you?

    I kind of think the main relationships would be (not necessarily in order of importance):* people older than me whose mother is my mother
  • people younger than me whose mother is my mother
  • people whose mother is my mother and whose father is my father
  • people whose mother is my father and whose father is my mother
  • people whose mother is my fatherI think a and b might be either both just below or both just above c. I think d and e would probably come in that order and would probably both be below a and b and c.
    Note that I haven't included a category for "people whose father is my mother". I'd guess they'd be about as close as, among us in real life, first-cousins are.

    Then you'd have maternal and paternal aunts and uncles.
    Really, I hadn't gotten that far.

    If matings aren't exclusive this could get real complicated, really fast. At best, you might be trading gender as identity for gender as relationship.
    I think what you meant to say is quite correct, but really, there wouldn't be any gender, or at least not any sex-based gender, to distinguish one member of this species from another. The language's gender system wouldn't be sex-based, unless either everyone started out male then switched to female and stayed that way, or else everyone started out female then switched to male and stayed that way; in which case "sex"-based gender might as well be called "age"-based gender. In most natlangs with gender that isn't sex-based, gender is animacy-based, and for the most part all humans have the same animacy as all other humans in such systems.

    But I'm guessing you mean to say, the relationship "the one who bore me" would be constant throughout life, as would its converse "one whom I bore". Also, "the one who begot me" and "one whom I begot" would be constant relationships throughout life. So "mother" and "father" would still be constant relationships; but they wouldn't be genders, because the same person could be both one person's mother and another person's father.

    As for "complicated", in natlangs "complicated" can happen really really soon. In Mandarin, for example, one has four kinds of sibling; older brothers, older sisters, younger brothers, and younger sisters. Then, one has eight kinds of uncle;
    father's older brother,
    father's older sister's husband,
    mother's older brother,
    mother's older sister's husband,
    father's younger brother,
    father's younger sister's husband,
    mother's younger brother,
    mother's younger sister's husband;
    and eight kinds of aunt as well.
    One has two kinds of grandfather (father's father, mother's father) and two kinds of grandmother (father's father, mother's father).

    Some "Sudanese systems" also distinguish both-parents-same siblings from same-father siblings from same-mother siblings.

    I would assume familial descent to be matrilineal as a rule. It pays to know who the parent is and there shouldn't be any of the sexual asymmetries of power that drive patrilineal descent in most human cultures.
    My thoughts exactly; although I was just thinking of that as one consistent and coherent possibility, rather than the only one.

    Given that this describes my Skavoon to a tee(the non-exclusive term, no less :-\ ), this bears some thinking.
    I'm so glad! Let me know your thoughts.

    _____________________________________________________________

    In Tarn, as far as they "own" territory, it would go with the Harem as a whole to the next male, who would normally be the most dominant/highest ranked parth. In the case of the Tarn who live in a separate Harem when they are parth, they might have a prearranged deal with one of the more distantly related parth Harems in the area to find the oldest/highest ranked parth in THAT Harem to be the new male, and he would bring new wives into the Harem from the adult (female) children of the other parths.

    Except that I omitted to mention "parths", or for that matter any other only-one-parent possibility, that fits with the kind of thing I was thinking of.
    Incorporating possible self-fertilization and/or cloning and/or mitosis-followed-by-endoreduplication (or for that matter any other kind of only-one-parent reproduction), is a complication or refinement of the questions I was asking, and I'd be interested in the answers.
    Also, among the Tarn, since everyone is younger when female than when male, if one person's mother is another's father, then the one who was borne by the shared parent is older than the one who was begotten by the parent. Since whenever anyone is a parth they're younger than when they're male, the same applies whether the parent is one's female-mother (that is, my mother was fertilized by my father and then I was born) or one's parth-mother (that is, my mother conceived and bore me parthenogenetically), however you choose to term those relationships.

    I'm also explicitly interested in the possibilities for a species in which everyone starts out male and ends up female. And I'm explicitly interested in species in which a person can be a mother then a father then a mother again, or vice-versa a father then a mother then a father again. (I know that there aren't many RL species like that; and among those in which it is possible, it is not usual. Except, of course, for those species which are always fully functioning hermaphtodites all of the time.)

    _____________________________________________________________

    Dividing estate property has the effect of destroying the estate over a number of generations, and resulting in otherwise small and powerless divisions that see the loss of a noble family, in effect.
    Exactly.

    Also, this might strongly encourage the older sibling to kill younger siblings (or contriving accidents for them), rather than protecting them. Particularly in any era where, once the estate has fallen, one is nothing more than a peasant.
    Interesting!
    In RL Earth-prime primogenitural patrilineal cultures *here* and *now* (almost all of which were Eurasian, or so I understand), I wander if there was ever any built-in hostility of that kind, between a man and his half-brothers who had the same mother but not the same father?
    In English (British? European?) propertied families, wasn't there usually a tradition that, for instance, the second son went into the Church, the third into the Army, the fourth into the Navy, the fifth into law, the sixth into medicine, and the seventh into a University, or some such thing? Varying from family to family? And probably allowing some leeway for choice among some of the younger sons?

    Of course, this all depends on what kind of world one is living in, economically speaking.
    Of course.

    _____________________________________________________________

    I have been thinking of something like this for the "darinan".
    For kinship terms, I am leaning towards: (darinan family units normally consists of between 2 and 5 adults)
    Parents: mother, father, step parent
    Children: not sure what I should call them in English, but "inverse" of above.
    Siblings: parallel-, cross-, (half-,) step-sibling

    ...

    Mechanisms:
    Darinans are capable of being both at the same time, but will usually shut down the system(s) that are not currently needed.
    Thanks! I'd like more detail eventually, but what you've given is more than I already had.

    _____________________________________________________________

    I think you're thinking too narrowly about the biological aspects of the naming system, rather than the cultural aspects:
    I wasn't really talking about a naming system at all. I was talking about various possibilities for kinterm systems.

    But, a naming system for such a conculture would also be very interesting.

    - which parent takes on the nurturing and protection of the offspring in their infancy/childhood? That's the parent more likely to be referred to as the equivalent of 'mother'.

    - which parent takes a very close interest in the offspring and is more likely to introduce them to dangerous and unexpected situations in a safe way? That parent is more likely to be called 'father'.
    Yes, if there are such cultural significances, especially if they aren't strongly influenced by the biological roles in reproduction, those might be better uses of the English terms "mother" and "father" than anything to do with who did the conceiving and bearing vs who did the begetting.
    A "Mr. Seahorse" kind of arrangement, where the (biological) mother carries the offspring only for a while and then they are transferred to the (biological) father's body until birth, might have the "father" do the early care and rearing.
    But one of the systems we were thinking of was this; Each parent's household consists of that parent plus all the children that parent conceived and bore. So all the children in that household have the same mother, but might not have the same father.
    If there isn't monogamy, then one's father would be more like "Uncle Dad" (or even "Aunt Dad") sociologically; your' father's "daughters" (that is, people whose mother is your father) would be an entire household of close relatives, like first cousins. But your mother's sons (that is, people whose father is your mother) could be more scattered, and might not be considered as close.

    OTOH if there is monogamy, then maybe everyone in the household into which you were born would have the same two parents you have, and would be like siblings to you. The ones with the same mother and the same father might be considered a little closer than the ones whose mother is your father and whose father is your mother.

    If people can't be both "sexes" at once, and can't alternate "sex", then maybe everyone starts out male and ends up female; or maybe everyone starts out female and ends up male. Either way, if someone's father is your mother then their mother can't be your father; and if someone's mother is your father then their father can't be your mother. Furthermore, one of those sets of half-siblings would all be older than your and all of your full-siblings, while the other set would all be younger. All of your full-siblings would have to have both the same father and the same mother.

    If there is monogamy in a species that can alternate "sex", or in which people are generally both "sexes" at once, there's no particular reason that the biological role a parent played in generating you, should have anything to do with what sociological role they play in rearing you, at least, not once you are weaned. So in that case the sociological significance of "mother" and "father" might be more related to how the labor is divided of child-rearing and of gaining a place for the child in the greater society.

    If everyone starts out male and ends up female, your mother is likelier IMO to be the one who introduces you to society and determines your place in it; and if everyone starts out female and ends up male, your father is likelier IMO to be the one who introduces you to society and determines your place in it. In other words, I'd bet the older parent would have the more influence. The younger parent would probably have the more intimate duties (e.g. breast-feeding, toilet-training, chewing food for the baby, maybe even regurgitating food for the infant), at least once the child is weaned (or, maybe, once the child can walk, or once the child cuts teeth, or once the child can talk, or whatever -- it could vary not only by species, but by culture within a species).

    - you could add more terms based on cultural roles while ignoring biological origins: grandfather/leader; grandmother/teacher etc.
    Indeed, that's a possibility. It's even a likelihood, IMO, if there's monogamy and everyone is hermaphroditic all the time or people can alternate "sex" (be a father then a mother then a father again, or be a mother then a father then a mother again).

    On the sibling front, again, it might be more worthwhile looking at it in cultural rather than genetic terms - those siblings who share an infancy in the same household might be called 'brother/sister/sibling' while those who share a parent but grow up in a different household could be called 'cousin'.
    Right. And, if a big batch of them are all in the same other household, while the rest are scattered around in various smaller batches in various other households, perhaps the big batch in one household would be "first cousins" and the scattered ones would be "second cousins". Or something.

    'Uncle/aunt' and 'nephew/niece' words could be used to refer to older and younger siblings or half siblings
    Could be.

    (we use uncle/aunt in English speaking societies to refer to any older person with a particularly close social (even non-sexual) relationship with either/both of the parents).
    Yes. In fact in Mandarin my parent's female business-partner is my "[ai]" (strictly speaking, mother's younger sister), unless there's a specific genetic relationship to override that. When I was in India any woman medical missionary (except my mom) was my "aunt" and any male medical missionary (except my dad) was my "uncle".

    As to hermaphrodism, think in terms of energy and efficiency. It takes up a lot of energy to produce sperm and eggs, and a huge amount of energy to take time to protect/raise any offspring. I'm assuming you're looking at a species that follows a K-selection reproduction strategy (like humans)? In which case I don't think full hermaphrodism is a good energy/efficiency solution. However, sex changes based on age, dominance in the social hierarchy and/or environmental factors (such as food supply) could work.
    AIUI hermaphroditism is a selective advantage when conspecifics suitable for mating are likely to be rare; when one is not unlikely not to meet two of them in one mating season. (So if that hot-looking "babe" turns around and has a full beard, that's not (necessarily) the end of the dating potential.) Storing sperm for later use is an advantage when one is not unlikely not to meet one every year; if one mated last year, one might still use the sperm from that mating in order to get pregnant this year, even if this year's social calendar has been completly empty. Parthenogenesis and other only-one-parent reproduction techniques are a selective advantage when one is not unlikely not to meet one at all ever in one's fertile life; even life-long spinsters can still have kids.

    Hope these thoughts help ...
    Maybe, maybe not; but either way, they're sure as heck interesting! Thanks!

    BTW: What if these people have a "maiden flight" or "nuptial flight" or some such thing like hymenopterous insects? A newly mature adult will get fertilized by as many other adults as possible early in their first mating season, and store those sperm for the rest of their fertile-as-a-mother life. So their children that they conceive and bear, might have several different fathers. Then, when one of them runs out of viable sperm from that maiden mating, they become "interested in girls", that is, they begin doing their best to mate with and (thus) fertilize as many newly-mature adults as possible. (Whether they'd do like the males in the hymenopterous species, and just get so interested in mating that they starved themselves to death because they couldn't be distracted from mating by hunger, I don't know. It'd be an interesting variant, I think.)

  • Posted September 28th, 2010 by chiarizio
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    In Tarn, as far as they "own" territory, it would go with the Harem as a whole to the next male, who would normally be the most dominant/highest ranked parth. In the case of the Tarn who live in a separate Harem when they are parth, they might have a prearranged deal with one of the more distantly related parth Harems in the area to find the oldest/highest ranked parth in THAT Harem to be the new male, and he would bring new wives into the Harem from the adult (female) children of the other parths.

    Except that I omitted to mention "parths", or for that matter any other only-one-parent possibility, that fits with the kind of thing I was thinking of.
    Incorporating possible self-fertilization and/or cloning and/or mitosis-followed-by-endoreduplication (or for that matter any other kind of only-one-parent reproduction), is a complication or refinement of the questions I was asking, and I'd be interested in the answers.
    Also, among the Tarn, since everyone is younger when female than when male, if one person's mother is another's father, then the one who was borne by the shared parent is older than the one who was begotten by the parent. Since whenever anyone is a parth they're younger than when they're male, the same applies whether the parent is one's female-mother (that is, my mother was fertilized by my father and then I was born) or one's parth-mother (that is, my mother conceived and bore me parthenogenetically), however you choose to term those relationships.

    I'm also explicitly interested in the possibilities for a species in which everyone starts out male and ends up female. And I'm explicitly interested in species in which a person can be a mother then a father then a mother again, or vice-versa a father then a mother then a father again. (I know that there aren't many RL species like that; and among those in which it is possible, it is not usual. Except, of course, for those species which are always fully functioning hermaphrodites all of the time.)
    and what about isogamy? What would be the implications of not having a clear distinction between "mother" and "father"?

    I have been thinking of something like this for the "darinan".
    For kinship terms, I am leaning towards: (darinan family units normally consists of between 2 and 5 adults)
    Parents: mother, father, step parent
    Children: not sure what I should call them in English, but "inverse" of above.
    Siblings: parallel-, cross-, (half-,) step-sibling

    ...

    Mechanisms:
    Darinans are capable of being both at the same time, but will usually shut down the system(s) that are not currently needed.
    Thanks! I'd like more detail eventually, but what you've given is more than I already had.
    Anything in particular?

    Posted September 29th, 2010 by intermundi
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    Anything in particular?


  • Are some adults exclusively male for their entire reproductive career, and the rest exclusively female for their entire reproductive career? If not, what is the arrangement?
  • Are there different words for "father" than for "mother"? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different words for "brother" than for "sister"? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different words for "husband" than for "wife"? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different words for "son" than for "daughter"? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different words for "father" than for "son"? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different words for "mother" than for "daughter"? If so, what are they?
  • Is there a word for "parent" distinct from "ancestor" or "older relative", but including both father and mother? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a word for "father" distinct from "mother" and also from "male ancestor" and from "older male relative"? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a word for "mother" distinct from "father" and also from "female ancestor" and from "older female relative"? If so, what is it?* Do they generally know who is whose father and who is whose mother?* What's the difference between my father and my mother?
  • Can my father be someone else's mother? Can my mother be someone else's father?
  • Is there a word for "anyone whose mother is my mother"? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a word for "anyone whose mother is my father"? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a word for "anyone whose father is my mother"? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a word for "anyone whose father is my father"? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a term that groups together all of my mother's children, regardless of whether "she" was their mother or their father?
  • Is there a term that groups together all of my father's children, regardless of whether "he" was their mother or their father?
  • What's the word for "person of whom I am the mother"?
  • What's the word for "person of whom I am the father"?
  • Is there a word for "person of whom I am a parent"? If so, what is it?
  • Are there different kinterms for "my father's child (but not my mother's)", "my mother's child (but not my father's)", "my father's wife's child (but not my father's child nor my mother's child)", "my mother's husband's child (but not my mother's child nor my father's child)"? If not, are two (or more) of those ideas conflated under a single term, or are one (or more) of them just left without terms, or both? And what are the terms and what are their meanings?
  • Are there distinct terms for my older siblings from my younger siblings? If so, what are they?
  • If people come in sexes (that are set for life), are there different terms for male siblings than for female siblings? Or are there different terms for siblings-of-the-same-sex versus siblings-of-the-opposite-sex? Or what?
  • Are there different terms for father's father from mother's father? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different terms for father's mother from mother's mother? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different terms for father's brother than for mother's brother? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different terms for father's sister than for mother's sister? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different terms for parent's older siblings than for parent's younger siblings? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different terms for parent's brother than for parent's sister's husband? If so, what are they?
  • Are there different terms for parent's sister than for parent's brother's wife? If so, what are they?

    Describe the typical duties* of a husband to a wife and vice-versa,
  • of two husbands of the same wife to each other,
  • of two wives of the same husband to each other,
  • of a father to a son and vice-versa,
  • of a father to a daughter and vice-versa,
  • of a mother to a son and vice-versa,
  • of a mother to a daughter and vice-versa,
  • of older and younger full-brothers to each other,
  • of older and younger full-sisters to each other,
  • of an older brother to a younger sister and vice-versa,
  • of an older sister to a younger brother and vice-versa,
  • of various kinds of half-siblings to each other,
  • of a stepchild to a step-parent and vice-versa (various relationships),
  • of step-siblings (of various kinds) to each other.

    Who bears the child to term? Who nurses the infant? Who feeds it until it can feed itself? Who teaches it to walk? to talk? to use the toilet? Who protects it? Who gives it its status in society?

    Who is usually a person's heir?

    Are people's family-names (or clan-names or house-names) named after their fathers? or after their mothers? or both?

    When a couple marries, what happens in terms of where they live?
    Do they move to some new place?
    Does the wife move into the husband's place (while he still lives with his father)?
    Does the husband move into the wife's place (while she still lives with her mother)?
    Do they continue living with their parents and not move in together?

    Who is more influential in a man's life -- his father, or his mother's oldest brother? (Or, neither, of course.) Does a man's property go to his oldest son, or to his oldest sister's oldest son? (or something else?)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Obviously I'm not expecting you to answer all of them all at once. But I hope that helps some.

    Also see this.
    Especially parts IIIJ "Questions of Family", X "Questions of Marriage", and XIJ "Questions of Sex".

  • Posted September 29th, 2010 by chiarizio
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