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Prescriptive Marriage Systems, Classificatory Kinship Systems, and Group Theory
Posted: Posted March 27th
Edited May 21st by chiarizio
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In the 1960s, and perhaps a decade or some few decades before and/or after, several prominent and well-respected sociologists and social-and-cultural anthropologists, thought that a largish minority of the world’s cultures had a certain kind of very systematic kinship-and-marriage Systems, which I will describe (to the best of my layman’s understanding) in this thread.
Beginning in the 1990s (maybe before, but not in famous published peer-refereed journal articles by established anthropologists), some field-researchers began to cast doubt on the real-life precision with which various cultures actually adhered to their rules.

I’ll talk first about Classificatory Kinship Systems in general, then concentrate on the subset of them which interests me most (at least for purposes of this thread).
Then I’ll talk about Preferential and Prescriptive and Proscriptive Marriage Systems, then concentrate on the Prescriptive Marriage Systems, which interest me most (for purposes of this thread).
Then I’ll talk about several real-life, and a few fictional, Prescriptive Marriage Systems, and try to relate them to the theory of Mathematical Groups.

I’ll try to do that in my first eleven or so replies to my own thread-originating post. I’ll try to title the posts appropriately.

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Classificatory Kinship Systems
People speaking one language may have different kinterms for two types of kinsmen (gender-neutral interpretation meant) that some other language has just one kinterm for. If so, scholars writing in that first language might call the second language’s kinterm “classificatory”; meaning they classify those two kintypes as the same kintype.
To a certain extent nearly every culture’s kinterm system is partly “classificatory” from the point-of-view of nearly every other culture’s kinterm system.
For instance, according to https://www.rd.com/culture/grandma-grandpa-different-languages/ , in Swedish, mother’s mother is mormor but father’s mother is farmor; in English they’re both grandmother. So to a Swedish-speaker English’s kinterm “grandmother” is classificatory.
Likewise, In Swedish, father’s father is Farfar but mother’s father is morfar; while English classifies them both as grandfather.

In Mandarin, there are different terms for siblings depending on relative birth-order as well as gender.
gē ge Older brother
dì di Younger brother
jiě jie Older sister
mèi mei Younger sister

Swedish has morbror for mother’s brother and farbror for father’s brother.
Mandarin has eight different terms for:
Father’s older brother
Father’s older sister’s husband
Father’s younger brother
Father’s younger sister’s husband
Mother’s older brother
Mother’s older sister’s husband
Mother’s younger brother
Mother’s younger sister’s husband

But in English these are all just Uncle.

Some languages have one term for a guy who has the same father (whether or not they have the same mother) and another term for a guy who has the same mother but a different father. In other words, one word means full-brother or agnate half-brother, and the other word means enate or uterine half-brother.
Other languages have one term for a guy who has the same mother (whether or not they have the same father) and another word for a guy who has the same father but a different mother. In other words, one word means full-brother or enate (aka uterine) half-brother, and the other word means agnate half-brother.
Yet other languages have three terms; meaning full-brother, uterine (i.e. enate) half-brother, and agnate half-brother.

At least one language has a term for someone with the same father whose mother was your mother’s sister; or who has the same mother but whose father was your father’s brother. And it’s (or they’re) different from the word(s) for full-siblings, and agnate half-siblings whose mothers weren’t sisters, and uterine half-siblings whose fathers weren’t brothers.

And some language (languages?) has(have) terms for same-sex sibling versus opposite-sex sibling, rather than male sibling (brother) versus female sibling (sister)

_________________________________



Edited March 31st by chiarizio
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The Kinds of Classificatory Kinterm Systems that Chiefly Interest Me Here
When talking of Prescriptive Marriage Systems along with closely conceptually-related Classificatory Kinship Systems, the above-mentioned anthropologists of the 1960s, and also to some degree at least some of the anthropologists of the 1990s and today, are mostly interested in the following kind of “classificatoriness”:
If EGO calls ALTER by a certain kinterm, and ALTER is Male, then EGO calls every brother of ALTER by that same kinterm.
If EGO calls ALTER by a certain kinterm, and EGO is Male, then every brother of EGO calls ALTER by that same kinterm.
If EGO calls ALTER by a certain kinterm, and ALTER is female, then EGO calls every sister of ALTER by that same kinterm.
If EGO calls ALTER by a certain kinterm, and EGO is female, then every sister of EGO calls ALTER by that same kinterm.

I will write one’s “actual” relative’s kinterm without quotes, and one’s “classificatory” kinterm with quotes.
Your father’s brother is your “father”. So is your father’s “brother” and your “father’s” brother and your “father’s brother”.
Your mother’s sister is your “mother”. So is your mother’s “sister” and your “mother’s” sister and your “mother’s sister”.
Your brother’s brother is your “brother”. So is your brother’s “brother” and your “brother’s” brother and your “brother’s brother”.
Your sister’s sister is your “sister”. So is your sister’s “sister” and your “sister’s” sister and your “sister’s sister”.
Your husband’s brother is your “husband”. So is your husband’s “brother” and your “husband’s” brother and your “husband’s brother”.
Your wife’s sister is your “wife”. So is your wife’s “sister” and your “wife’s” sister and your “wife’s sister”.
Your son’s brother is your “son”. So is your son’s “brother” and your “son’s” brother and your “son’s brother”.
Your daughter’s sister is your “daughter”. So is your daughter’s “sister” and your “daughter’s” sister and your “daughter’s sister”.

————————————————————————————————

Among the people who are your “father” are:
Your father, your father’s brother, your father’s “brother”, your “father’s” brother, and your “father’s brother”;
Your mother’s husband, your mother’s “husband”, your “mother’s” husband, and your “mother’s husband”;
Your brother’s father, your brother’s “father”, your “brother’s” father, and your “brother’s father”;
Your sister’s father, your sister’s “father”, your “sister’s” father, and your “sister’s father”.

Among the people who are your “mother” are:
Your mother, your mother’s sister, your mother’s “sister”, your “mother’s” sister, and your “mother’s sister”;
Your father’s wife, your father’s “wife”, your “father’s” wife, and your “father’s wife”;
Your brother’s mother, your brother’s “mother”, your “brother’s” mother, and your “brother’s mother”;
Your sister’s mother, your sister’s “mother”, your “sister’s” mother, and your “sister’s mother”.

Among the people who are your “brother”, if they aren’t actually you yourself, are:
Your father’s son, your father’s “son”, your “father’s” son, and your “father’s son”;
Your mother’s son, your mother’s “son”, your “mother’s” son, and your “mother’s son”;
Your brother, your brother’s brother, your brother’s “brother”, your “brother’s” brother, and your “brother’s brother”;
Your sister’s brother, your sister’s “brother”, your “sister’s” brother, and your “sister’s brother”;
Your wife’s husband, your wife’s “husband”, your “wife’s” husband, and your “wife’s husband”;
If you are male, your son’s “father”, your “son’s” father, and your “son’s father”;
If you are male, your daughter’s “father”, your “daughter’s” father, and your “daughter’s father”.

Among the people who are your “sister”, if they aren’t you yourself, are:
Your father’s daughter, your father’s “daughter”, your “father’s” daughter, and your “father’s daughter”;
Your mother’s daughter, your mother’s “daughter”, your “mother’s” daughter, and your “mother’s daughter”;
Your brother’s sister, your brother’s “sister”, your “brother’s” sister, and your “brother’s sister”;
Your sister, your sister’s sister, your sister’s “sister”, your “sister’s” sister, and your “sister’s sister”;
Your husband’s wife, your husband’s “wife”, your “husband’s” wife, and your “husband’s wife”;
If you are female, your son’s “mother”, your “son’s” mother, and your “son’s mother”;
If you are female, your daughter’s “mother”, your “daughter’s” mother, and your “daughter’s mother”.

Among the people who are your “husband”, if you are female, are:
Your sister’s husband, your sister’s “husband”, your “sister’s” husband, and your “sister’s husband”;
Your husband, your husband’s brother, your husband’s “brother”, your “husband’s” brother, and your “husband’s brother”;
Your son’s father, your son’s “father”, your “son’s” father, and your “son’s father”;
Your daughter’s father, your daughter’s “father”, your “daughter’s” father, and your “daughter’s father”.

Among the people who are your “wife”, if you are male, are:
Your brother’s wife, your brother’s “wife”, your “brother’s” wife, and your “brother’s wife”;
Your wife’s sister, your wife’s “sister”, your “wife’s” sister, and your “wife’s sister”;
Your son’s mother, your son’s “mother”, your “son’s” mother, and your “son’s mother”;
Your daughter’s mother, your daughter’s “mother”, your “daughter’s” mother, and your “daughter’s mother”.

Among the people who are your “son”, are:
Your son;
If you are male, your brother’s son, your brother’s “son”, your “brother’s” son, and your “brother’s son”;
If you are female, your sister’s son, your sister’s “son”, your “sister’s” son, and your “sister’s son”;
Your husband’s son, your husband’s “son”, your “husband’s” son, and your “husband’s son”;
Your wife’s son, your wife’s “son”, your “wife’s” son, and your “wife’s son”;
Your son’s brother, your son’s “brother”, your “son’s” brother, and your “son’s brother”;
Your daughter’s brother, your daughter’s “brother”, your “daughter’s” brother, and your “daughter’s brother”.

Among the people who are your “daughter”, are:
Your daughter;
If you are male, your brother’s daughter, your brother’s “daughter”, your “brother’s” daughter, and your “brother’s daughter”;
If you are female, your sister’s daughter, your sister’s “daughter”, your “sister’s” daughter, and your “sister’s daughter”;
Your husband’s daughter, your husband’s “daughter”, your “husband’s” daughter, and your “husband’s daughter”;
Your wife’s daughter, your wife’s “daughter”, your “wife’s” daughter, and your “wife’s daughter”;
Your son’s sister, your son’s “sister”, your “son’s” sister, and your “son’s sister”;
Your daughter’s sister, your daughter’s “sister”, your “daughter’s” sister, and your “daughter’s sister”.


Edited April 18th by chiarizio
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Important to Notice!
In the type of Classificatory Kinship Systems I’m most interested in for this thread —— often called “FB=F and MZ=M systems”, for reasons I will explain in my next reply ——

Parallel Cousins Are “Siblings”

That is,
father’s brother’s sons are “father’s” sons are “brothers”
mother’s sister’s sons are “mother’s” sons are “brothers”
father’s brother’s daughters are “father’s” daughters are “sisters”
mother’s sister’s daughters are “mother’s” daughters are “sisters”.

Also note that full brother, agnate half-brother, uterine half-brother, and stepbrother, are all just “brother”.

In English, your half-brother’s half-brother stands a good chance of being your stepbrother.
Your half-brother’s stepbrother and your stepbrother’s half-brother stand a good chance of being no relation to you.
Your stepbrother’s stepbrother is highly probably no relation to you.
But in these classificatory systems we’re discussing here, they’re all your “brothers”.


Edited April 18th by chiarizio
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Notations and Abbreviations
To make things shorter and easier to read:
F means father or father’s or “father” or “father’s”
M means mother or mother’s or “mother” or “mother’s”
B means brother or brother’s or “brother” or “brother’s”
Z means sister or sister’s or “sister” or “sister’s”
H means husband or husband’s or “husband” or “husband’s”
W means wife or wife’s or “wife” or “wife’s”
S means son or son’s or “son” or “son’s”
D means daughter or daughter’s or “daughter” or “daughter’s”.

Thus FB=F means father’s brother is classified as “father”,
and MZ=M means mother’s sister is classified as “mother”.

FBS means father’s brother’s son
FBD means father’s brother’s daughter
MZS means mother’s sister’s son
MZD means mother’s sister’s daughter

We have the classifications FBS=B and MZS=B, and FBD=Z and MZD=Z, in these Kinship Systems.

————————————————————————————————

Other notations and terminologies;
The person from whom the Kinship is reckoned is called the propositus, and always denoted as EGO.
The person who is the target of the kinterm is always denoted as ALTER.
m.s. stands for male speaker and signifies that EGO is male.
f.s. stands for female speaker and signifies that EGO is female.

For instance for m.s. we have SF=B, but for f.s. SF=H.

e stands for elder and y stands for younger.
For instance a man’s eZDy is his elder sister’s daughter, younger than himself.
A woman’s MyBe is her mother’s younger brother, older than herself.



Posted March 27th by chiarizio
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Preferences, Prescriptions, and Proscriptions

Proscriptions of Marriage
Some societies have rules against certain marriages.
For instance every society prohibits father-daughter marriage, and father-daughter sex, unless both parties believe the father is the only remaining fertile man alive, and the only remaining fertile women in existence are his daughters.
Symmetrically, mother-son marriage, and mother-son sex, is strictly prohibited, unless everyone believes the mother is the human race’s only remaining fertile woman, and no fertile man other than her son(s) still exist.
Many societies forbid parent-child mating for livestock, too, as well as people.

Every society also forbids marriage, and/or sex, between full siblings, unless they are royalty. (Some societies do or once did permit full brother-sister marriages if th couple were royals).

Half-sibling mating is allowed in some societies, or historically has been allowed.

But some prohibit it.

——————————

Some societies prohibit marriages between other pairs of close blood relatives; for instance, uncle-niece or aunt-nephew marriage, or double-first-cousin marriage.

Some prohibit marriages between certain affine relatives.
For instance, a man may be prohibited from marrying one or some or any of:
His father’s wife, widow, or ex-wife;
His son’s wife, widow, or ex-wife;
His brother’s wife, widow, or ex-wife;
The mother or daughter or sister of his wife or late wife or ex-wife

The corresponding proscriptions for women also occur.

Some societies don’t allow a man to marry his brother’s wife’s sister (his BWZ).
Some don’t allow a woman to marry her ZHB.

There are proscriptions not based on kinship.
Some societies won’t let you marry someone from your own village.
Some won’t allow a man to marry a woman from a higher caste.
In some societies men never marry women older than they are.
Etc.

————————————————




Edited March 27th by chiarizio
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Preferential Marriage Systems
If there is a socially-preferred type of candidate spouse, and there are sanctions (however mild or severe) against marrying anyone else, and/or against failing to marry a preferred-type spouse, that’s called a “preferential marriage system”.

For instance, in the Dravidian system, the (male speakers’) word for “older sister” is the same as the word for “mother-in-law”. A man’s preferred bride is his older sister’s daughter (younger than himself). A woman’s preferred groom is her mother’s younger brother (older than herself).
But some men don’t have any older sisters. Or none of those older sisters have any daughters. Rarely, that or those daughter(s) are all older than the man. Or maybe they’re all already married. Or otherwise unavailable as his bride.

So when modern anthropologists these days write about preferential marriage systems, they usually mention a second, and often a third, preference.
For instance, if i recall correctly, there’s some minority society in China in which a man’s preferred bride (that is, the bride society prefers for him) is one of his first-cousins.
It might be something like this:
His MBD; then his FZD; then his MZD; then any other girl not his first-cousin.
His FBD is the only first-cousin he is forbidden to marry (as if she were his sister).

Other preferred marriage systems address re-marrying widows of deceased close male relatives, such as brothers and fathers and sons.
Many societies have a custom called the levirate. It requires or expects a decedent’s brother to inherit his widow(s), so that she/they become(s) the surviving brother’s wife/wives. If the society has secondary marriage, this might apply to all the widows, or only the primary wife, or only the secondary wives. If the society has secondary marriage, and the surviving brother already has a primary wife, the decedent’s widows may become the living brother’s secondary wives.
Some levirate customs are “junior levirate”. Only the younger brothers of the deceased can or must or are expected to marry their dead older brother’s widow(s).
Some levirates are “senior levirates”. It’s the deceased’s older brother(s) who are expected to take his widows to wife.

In many societies, a man’s heir is his oldest living son by his primary wife; or, by any wife; or by his primary wife if there is such a son, or by some other wife if he has no living sons by his primary wife.
In some such societies, the man’s heir inherits all the man’s secondary wives, except for the heir’s own mother.

And there are societies in which, if a living father’s married son dies, the father inherits/marries all of his dead son’s widows, or just his late son’s primary wife, or just the son’s secondary wife/wives.

All four of these preferences can co-occur and co-exist in a given culture; probably with a widely-known socially-mandated order-of-preference. Maybe, for instance,
Son > younger brother > older brother > father
There could be up to 24 different orders. I doubt more than 12 of them are attested in real life, but I don’t know which, if any, are in fact attested, nor by whom.

Among the Rukuba, who do have secondary marriage, a woman’s oldest daughter’s “preferred” groom, is her mother’s last premarital boyfriend’s oldest son. If mom’s last lover’s oldest son isn’t available, the next preferred groom is any of mom’s old flame’s other sons. If mom’s last hot date before her first wedding has no available sons, the third choice is any man from his patriclan.
Rukuba women can’t, or won’t, or prefer not to, marry a man from the same patriclan as a full-sister’s or uterine-half-sister’s husband. So a woman’s second and younger daughters’ preferred grooms are men who are ritual-brothers* of mom’s last fling, but not in the same patriclan as him (nor the same patriclan as any other full-sister’s husband or uterine-half-sister’s husband).
*Two Rukuba men are each the other’s ritual-brother, if they were both initiated into manhood at the same place. Ritual-brothers can’t marry each others’ wives.

Preferential marriage systems that aren’t prescriptive marriage systems, tend to express preferences that sometimes are impossible to adhere to. Also, people in these societies, more or less frequently, don’t adhere perfectly even when it’s possible to do so. If they don’t, there may be a sanction to pay for marrying a less-preferred spouse when a more-preferred candidate spouse is available.

Two examples.

In many Middle Eastern and African societies, a man’s “preferred” bride is his FBD, and a woman’s “preferred” groom is her FBS. In some of those societies, the sanction is as follows: If a woman is about to marry someone who is not her FBS, and (one of) her FBS(s) wants to marry her, he (the FBS) can interrupt the wedding, and demand that she marry him instead.

Among the Rukuba, only 10% of women marry their “preferred” groom first. However, 97% of them marry their “preferred” groom eventually. (Usually second, apparently.). This could be viewed as a sanction.



Edited May 21st by chiarizio
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Prescriptive Marriage Systems
Prescriptive marriage systems can be (but not always are) viewed as a subtype of preferential marriage system.
Prescriptive marriage systems are always coupled with an “FB=F and MZ=M” type of classificatory kinship system.
Everybody who marries, must marry someone who is related to them in a certain way in the classificatory kinship system.
If Miss X can marry Mr Y, then every woman in Miss X’s class —— her classificatory “sisters” —— can marry any man in Mr Y’s class —— his classificatory “brothers”.
And Miss X and her “sisters” cannot marry any other men than Mr Y and his “brothers”.

First-Cousin Marriage Systems
The most popular type of Prescriptive Marriage Systems, world-wide, are those in which a man must marry his MBD or a girl so classified, and a woman must marry her FZS or a man so classified. In other “words”, W=MBD and H=FZS.
Perhaps the second most popular type —— in any case, the second most written-about —— is marriage to the other kind of cross-cousin. A man must marry his FZD or a woman so classified, and a woman must marry her MBS or a man so classified. In other “words”, W=FZD and H=MBS.
The third most written-about, and maybe the third most-popular, is marriage to a double cross-cousin. A man must marry a woman whose father is his mother’s brother (or thus classified) and whose mother is his father’s sister (or so classified). So a woman must marry a man who is both (classified as) her MBS and is (classified as) her FZS. That is, W=MBD and W=FZD and H=FZS and H=MBS.

Second-Cousin Marriage Systems
There are also attested prescriptive marriage systems in which a person’s prescribed spouse is (classified as) (one kind of) their second-cousin.
Maybe W=FMBSD and H=FFZSS.
Or H=MFZDS and W=MMBDD.
Or W=FFZDD and H=MMBSS.
Or five other possibilities.
W={FlM}{FZ|MB}{S|D}D and trace that backwards to pick from H={FlM}{FZ|MB}{S|D}S.
(In an FB=F-and-MZ=M classificatory kinship system, there are eight kinds of second-cousin of each sex.)


Edited March 31st by chiarizio
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Direct Sister Exchange
In a prescriptive marriage system such as most interests us here, and such as I’ve described (I hope!) above, it is often the case that a man can=must marry (a woman classified as) his ZHZ, and a woman can=must marry (a man classified as) her BWB.
If that’s so, there’s no difference between a man’s WB and his ZH. Iow WB=ZH. They are either the same person; or they are brothers; or they are “brothers”.
And there’s no difference between a woman’s HZ and her BW; HZ=BW. They’re the same person, or sisters, or “sisters”.
Such a system is said to have “direct sister exchange” in marriage. That’s a somewhat sexist way of putting it; the women are exchanging brothers just as much as the men are exchanging sisters, unless there are other factors in the culture which haven’t been discussed so far.

Second in popularity to W=ZHZ H=BWB WB=ZH BW=HZ Systems, with only one kind of brother-in-law and only one kind of sister-in-law,
are systems in which:
W=ZHZHZ and WB=ZHZH and WBW=ZHZ
and H=BWBWB and HZ=BWBW
and BW=HZHZ and BWB=HZH and ZH=WBWB.
In such a system a man can have two kinds of brother-in-law; wife’s brother, vs sister’s husband.
And a woman can have two kinds of sister-in-law; husband’s sister, and brother’s wife.
This is not direct sister exchange.

B=HZHZH
H=BWBWB
W=ZHZHZ
Z=WBWBW
BW=HZHZ
HZ=BWBW
WB=ZHZH
ZH=WBWB
BWB=HZH
WBW=ZHZ

___________________

I may, or may not, have found a reference on the Web to a real-life (I think Australian) society where the sibling-and-spouse “circles” contained eight classes (four of men and four of women) instead of six or four.
If I correctly understood the author, he was talking about a system in which
W=ZHZHZHZ
H=BWBWBWB
and so
WB=ZHZHZH
ZH=WBWBWB
HZ=BWBWBW
BW=HZHZHZ
But it’s possible he was talking about a system in which W’s class was ZHZ’s class and H’s class was BWB’s class, and so WB’s class was ZH’s class and HZ’s class was BW’s class, and there was just a particular group of eight individuals who went around the circle twice before landing back with the same person, even though they went through each class twice.
That was the same paper in which he pointed out that, if in every marriage the husband was older than the wife, or, in every marriage the wife was older than the husband, then any particular chain of individuals who were each the sibling of one and the spouse of another in the chain, would be more of a “helix” than a “circle”.

Edited May 21st by chiarizio
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Of the real-life Classificatory Kinship and Prescriptive Marriage systems I have read reports of, the one with the most classes had 18 classes of men (and 18 classes of women).
The men’s classes were organized into six patrilines of three generational classes each. Each patriline’s classes were in a cycle, so that every man was in the same class as his FFF and as his SSS. So for male speakers the term for “brother” also meant FFF and SSS. And the term for “father” also meant SS, and the term for “son” also meant FF.
These patrilines were grouped into two moieties of three patrilines each.
Nobody married anyone from their own moiety. Everyone married someone from the other moiety.
The three generations in each patriline, would take turns, rotating through a cycle of three, marrying women from one of the three patrilines in the other moiety.
It was a “direct sister exchange” system. If a man could marry a woman, then her brother could marry the man’s sister.

It is my impression that, as near as I can tell, having on average 17 out of every 18 otherwise eligible members of the opposite sex, be unavailable because of being born into the wrong kinship class, is rather rare in real life. More common fractions might, if I am not mistaken, be 1 out of 2 unavailable, or 2 out of 3 unavailable, or 3 out of 4 unavailable.

I have long wanted a system in which a circulum connubium would contain five (classes of) men and five (classes of) women. The reason is that some anthropologists have proposed a parallel to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, that in WB=ZH systems, and by a slightly different mechanism* also WBW=ZHZ systems, people were pre-disposed to see the universe as organized into dichotomies. Folk-taxonomies have (so they hypothesised) each taxon divided into exactly two taxa of the next lower rank.
*In WB=ZH systems people are grouped as Us and Them. In WBW=ZHZ systems other men (i.e. men who aren’t in my line) are either (wife-)givers, like my WB, or (sister-)takers like my ZH.

I worried that if the sibling-and-spouse circle had only four classes of each sex (men could be like me, or like my WB, or like my ZH, or like my WBWB=ZHZH), if these anthropologists were right, the people might think the whole universe was organized into trichotomies; and I didn’t want that.
I thought that, if they were all familiar that, for instance for a man, there’d be men of his own line, men of his WB’s line, men of his ZH’s line, and at least two other lines (namely his WBWB’s line and his ZHZH’s line); then, folk-taxonomies would always, in addition to the (two or) three most prominent classifications, always include a “miscellaneous/other” category, which could itself be further divided whenever anyone wanted to take the trouble to do so.

Just recently I invented such a system. It has twenty classes of men and twenty classes of women. I thought if a real-life society could put up with being able to date only 1/18 of the single MOTS one met, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to let people court only 1/20 of the otherwise eligible members of the opposite sex.



Edited May 21st by chiarizio
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The System I’m Using in my Unnamed(-as-yet) Multi-Racial Fantasy ConWorld

In this system are five patriclans. Everybody is born into one, and only one, of them —— namely the one of which their father is a member —— and stays in it their whole life.
The population is, almost independently, also divided into five pairwise-mutually-exclusive and jointly-exhaustive matriclans. Everyone is born into one and only one matriclan —— their mother’s matriclan —— and stays in it their whole life.
The members of each patriclan are divided into four generational groups, which are organized into a cycle. A male speaker’s word for “brother” also covers his FFFF (whom he probably never met) and his SSSS (whom he’ll probably never meet). His son will belong to the same class his FFF belonged to; his SS will belong to the same class his FF belonged to; and his SSS will belong to the same class his father belonged to.
Likewise the members of each matriclan are divided into four generations, which also form a circle. From a female speaker’s perspective, her term for “sister” is also her term for MMMM and for DDDD. Her daughter she will call by the same term as her MMM. Her DD she will call by the same term as her MM. And her DDD she will call by the same term as her mother.

Society is also divided into four generational groups, which are spouse-and-sibling circles. There are five classes of men, and five classes of women, in each such circle. Each class of men are “brothers” to one class of women in the circle, and “husbands” to one other class of women in the circle. Each class of women are “sisters” to one class of men in the circle, and “wives” to one other class of men in the circle.
Each patriclan intersects each “spouse”-and-“sibling” circle in exactly two classes; a class of men, and the class of their “sisters”.
Each matriclan also intersects each “spouse”-and-“sibling” circle in one class of women, and the class of their “brothers”.

The men in each patriclan take turns by generations, rotating through the other patriclans, as the source of their bride.
A man can’t marry anyone from his own patriclan. Nor can he marry anyone from his mother’s patriclan (such as his MBD), like his father did. Nor can he marry from his FM’s patriclan (such as his FMBSD), like his FF did. He can’t even marry someone from his FFM’s patriclan, like his FFF did. Instead he must marry a woman from his FFFM’s patriclan, like his FFFF did.
At the same time, the women in each matriclan, rotate, generation-by-generation, through the other four matriclans, as the source of their groom.
A woman can’t marry a man from her own matriclan, nor her father’s matriclan, nor her MF’s matriclan, nor her MMF’s matriclan. She must marry a man from her MMMF’s matriclan.

If a patriclan and a matriclan have any common members, they are all and only two classes of people, one class of men and one class of women. The men are the women’s “brothers” and the women are the men’s “sisters”.
Each patriclan has members in common with four of the matriclans; and each matriclan has members in common with four of the patriclans.
For every man, his WBW’s matriclan has no members in common with his own patriclan; and for every woman, her HZH’s patriclan has no members in common with her own matriclan.

This is a “third-cousin” marriage system, because a man’s wife must be classifiable as his FFFZDDD and a woman’s husband must be classifiable as her MMMBSSS. But a man’s wife is also classifiable as his FZHZD, and a woman’s husband is also classifiable as her MBWBS. And there are other blood- and affine- relationships between a man and his bride-to-be and vice versa; or at least they look different in our notation. For instance if a man can marry a woman, then his FFFF could have married her FFFFZ. So W=FFFMBSSSD. And his MMMMB could have married her MMMM, so H=MMMFZDDDS. So there’re two different ways to consider this system a “fourth-cousin” system.


Posted March 31st by chiarizio
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