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relationship labelling

System for labelling any relationship
  (+9, -2)
(+9, -2)
  [vote for,

My family's relationships are complicated by a high number of addopted, half, step and ex- relationships. This sometimes leaves me at a loss when I'm trying to describe how someone is related to me. Alternately, I spend a good minute or two describing the chain of links that make up the relationship.

My office mate and I came up with a system that can be used to create a single word that exactly describes any given relationship.

The system consists of a group of sylables. Trace the path from you to the other person in terms of parents, children, siblings and spouses. For each link in the chain, add another sylable.

For example, I have half-brother with my mom as the common parent. This relationship has two links - my mom -> her son.

The sylables for every link in the relationship chain have two letters plus there are some optional modifiers that could be added to make a third letter.

The first letter is a consonant indicating the sex(es) of the people:

p - male m - female z - don't know or decline to specify b - both male and female

The second letter is a vowel indicating the type of relationship:

a - parent o - child i - spouse e - sibling (but only for full natural siblings)

The modifiers are:

s - more than one (bas is both parents, for example) x - ex- (spouses) d - addopted f - foster n - next/future/later (spouses) v - evil or wicked (pamiv = wicked step mother)

The special sylable "fam" refers to the group of family members that an indicated person normally is close to. "mifam" is your wife's family.

Examples (from my family or families of people that I know):

mapo (half brother through my mom)

mimemopa (guy that sister in law had a daughter with)

mimespi (brothers in law through wife's sisters)

basbasbosbos (all of my first cousins, including those through half relationships)

mipominmapinso (wife -> son -> fiance -> mom -> next husband -> son = step brother of step-son's fiance)

Researching this idea, I've seen several systems for genealogy that involve *numbering* relationships, but that's not terribly useful in conversation.

In the Robert Heinlein novel "Citizen of the Galaxy", the protagonist spends some time on a large family run trading ship. The ship-board culture has it's own "secret" language that includes an extra set of words for naming relationships. The book doesn't explain the system or give any examples, though.

acemccloudxx, Nov 22 2004


       m seems like a counterintuitive choice for female.   

       //Some strange old bald guy// Dad? Is that you?
calum, Nov 22 2004

       Someone had suggested "m" for male and "f" for female, but that would make "mama" you grandfather on your dad's side, which seemed even *more* counterintuitive.
acemccloudxx, Nov 22 2004

       Scandinavian languages are already halfway there. In Swedish you have two grandmothers, "Mormor" = maternal grandmother (lit. mothermother), and "Farmor" = paternal grandmother. Likewise "Farfar" = paternal grandfather, "Faster" = uncle on father's side "Moster" = uncle on mother's side. From what I can remember you describe most common relationships by compounding others and still end up with a single pronounceable word. My Swedish is more than a little rough - maybe [FarmerJohn] can correct me here.   

       Your system sounds even better though.[+]
wagster, Nov 22 2004

       one of our holiday guests is my stepfathers' ex-wife, the mother of his two daughters, my kids have step aunts and step cousins, so this mother is their ex-step-grandmother. so 'max-grand'?
dentworth, Nov 22 2004

       I had a similar idea once - add a suffix, like "r" for roommate; "s" for sister. Thus "my friendrs" means "My friend's roommate's sister". Likewise, my roommatefsh means my roommate's friend's sister's husband, and it's easier to say.
phundug, Nov 22 2004

       "step father's ex-wife" mom -> next husband -> previous wife = mapinmix. Your kids would add a "ma" or "pa" to the front of that, i.e. pamapinmix.
acemccloudxx, Nov 22 2004

       I'll never be able to spit it out. how about, Jean.
dentworth, Nov 22 2004

       So [po]'s son would be "po's po"?

(Also, why is "half brother through my mom" "maso", rather than "mao"?)
hippo, Nov 22 2004

       Boy, am I glad I'm an only child.
phundug, Nov 22 2004

       Po's son would be popo.   

       Half brother through the mother would be mapo. That was a typo. Sorry about that.
acemccloudxx, Nov 22 2004

       Ah, I miss the naming convention I used when I was a kid - everyone except grand/parents, siblings and cousins - including non-relatives - was 'uncle' or 'aunt' depending on their gender. Doesn't really work except when you're young though.
lyserge, Nov 22 2004

       Wait a second. Mapo is Ty's son?
Worldgineer, Nov 22 2004

       [wagster] You were close except "faster" is Father's sister and "moster" is Mother's sister (aunts), while the uncles are "farbror" and "morbror". A great great grandchild would be called "barnbarns barnbarn".
FarmerJohn, Nov 24 2004

       Any system that introduces the words basbasbosbos and mipominmapinso into the English language gets my vote.
harderthanjesus, Nov 24 2004

       [+] This is beyond awesome. Do you need volunteers to teach the system in schools? To write textbooks on the subject?
egads, Nov 24 2004

       I thought you meant, like, naming a relationship "Fred" or "Kyle" or "Janice".
waugsqueke, Nov 25 2004


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