We have been somewhat inaccurate in describing the above terminology
as "English", since some of the kin terms used by modern English
speakers are actually French loan words. In fact these borrowings follow
a definite pattern:
- All nuclear family terms (father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter)
are native English terms of Anglo Saxon origin.
- All collateral terms (uncle, aunt, cousin, niece, nephew) are French
loan words. (Aunt is derived from the Old French; Modern French "tante"
reflects a later addition of a "t".)
This observation suggests that English once had a different terminological
system,and that Modern English patterns, and in particular collateral merging,
reflect semantic change. Accordingly, two issues emerge:
- What was the older Anglo Saxon terminology?
- Why did the system change?
© Brian Schwimmer
University of Manitoba
Date Created: September 1997