Yanomano Kin Terms
Yanomamo kin terms conform to the
Iroquois classificatory pattern,
which is consistent with other features of their social structure,
including an emphasis on unilineal (patrilineal) descent and bilateral
cross cousin marriage.
Yanomamo Kin Terms
The major features of this system include:
- The application of a bifurcate merging rule through which
- father's brother and father are merged in a single term, haya, and distinguished from mother's brother, soaya,
- and mother's sister is merged with mother, naya, and distinguished from father's sister, yesiya.
- The merging of parallel cousins and siblings, eiwa (male) and amiwa (female), accompanied by a distintive terms for cross cousins, soriwa (male) and suaboya (female).
In this case, as in other Iroquois terminologies, bifurcate merging is related to a unilineal descent system, where distinctions between father's and mother's sides of the family are important for social relations.
The distinction between different kinds of cousins reflects this division between descent lines but also marks a
second important difference: parallel cousins, like brothers and sisters,
are prohibited from marrying; cross cousins are not and may very often be
chosen as preferential marriage partners within a cross cousin marriage system.
The Yanomamo in fact do practice a system of
bilateral cross cousin marriage,
based upon two principles:
The Yanomamo elucidate this marriage system
through an additional denotation of the cross-cousin terms.
A man's term for his female cross-cousin, suaboya,
is also the term for wife,
which should probably be considered as its primary meaning.
The term for male cross-cousin, soriwa,
also denotes brother-in-law, in both senses of the term, since
ego's wife's brother will normally be married to ego's sister.
In a similar fashion women classifies male cross cousins and husbands within
one category, heroya, and female cross cousins and sisters-in-law
within another natohiya.
- a direct exchange initial marriage pattern,
in which two men marry each other's sisters,
- a perpetuation of exchanges and alliance between the two lineages
involved through the inter-marriage of subsequent children,
who are doubly related as cross cousins through both fathers and mothers.
A comparison between Yanomamo and English terms (
as per a male ego addressing a male relative) is provided below.
Yanomamo and English Terms Compared|
According to Kin Type
Source: Lizot 1971
© Brian Schwimmer
University of Manitoba
Page created 1995