Friday, March 6, 2009

Random things Tova wonders about

Why is there no gender-neutral singular or plural term for "aunts and uncles" and "nieces and nephews?"

If you want to refer to someone's mom or their dad, without specifying one or the other, you say "parent." If you want to refer collectively to a mom and a dad or to a group consisting of some moms and some dads, you say "parents."

Grandma/Grandpa = Grandparent(s)
Sister/brother = sibling(s)
Son/daughter = child(ren)
Grandson/granddaughter = grandchild(ren)
Husband/wife = spouse(s)

But there is no gender-neutral word to describe aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. So, if you're spending the holidays with various family members, and you're describing who will be there, you would have to say "I'll be spending time with my grandparents, my siblings, my children, my parents, my aunts and my uncles, and my nieces and my nephews," because there's no word to describe that relationship that doesn't specify gender. Why not? This has always puzzled me.

Also, why does the word "cousin" have the opposite problem? Every other familial relationship has one word for if that relative is a female and another for if the relative is a male, but "cousin" is purely gender neutral.

And yes, I'm aware that these are weird things to wonder about, but I wonder anyway...

12 comments:

Comedy Goddess said...

Maybe you could just call them, the extended gene pool folks? Or the branches on the family tree?

Sassy Britches said...

I'm thinking you should bust out a new word...ancles or unts, neiphews or (ooooo it's hard to combine it the other way) nephces?

"I'm going to visit my ancles and neiphews this weekend."

When you say it out loud, it sounds like that little kid song where they teach vowels: "I'd like to ate, ate, ate, apples and banay nays. I'd like to eat, eat, eat, eeples and beneenees."

But, whatever I'm going to start saying ancles and neiphews now.

Catrina said...

It seems like everyone else in my family that doesn't really fall into any category gets placed in the "cousin" field. It's like the leftovers of family titles.

SkylersDad said...

With my family, it's because most of my aunts/uncles/cousins are also my parents/brothers/sisters.

We were kind of a "tight knit" community...

Anne's Friend said...

i like sassy's "ancles" and "neiphews"....

i have never thought about this before. now it kinda bugs me...

~Donna said...

Good lord, now it's driving me batty.

I'm going to dinner with my "people of the extended gene pool". I kinda like that, Comedy Goddess..lol

Of course, there's always "kinfolk".

But yeah. What the hell is up with that?

B.E. Earl said...

I'm gonna be pissed about this for the rest of the day.

Thanks!

Lisa said...

Hey, just found your blog through 20sb, but I see we are also both Sitsas! I'd never thought about the whole gender thing for aunts/uncles/cousins. Now that you mention it - I want to know the answers to these questions, too! :)

Angie said...

That has bothered me for years. Glad to know I'm not alone. :)

Anniebanannie said...

This is something I've honestly never thought about, but very interesting to say the least. Now you've got me thinking...

Laura said...

Deep thoughts by Tova Darling?!

J&D said...

 

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