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Zii e nipoti in latino e germanico: arcaismo o innovazione?

Andrea Sesoldi

Abstract


In ancient Indo-European Languages it is very frequent to use different words for uncles on father and mother sides, but if we examine the facts more in detail, we discover that Latin and West Germanic Languages seem to be closely related in some peculiar features: the uncles of the same sex of the connective parent are named with a noun coming from that for parent himself (O.H.G. fetiro as Lat. patruus ‘uncle on the father side’, O.H.G. muotera as Lat. matertera ‘aunt on the mother side’, §2, 3); the uncles of the opposite sex are not. When we arrive to the uncle on the mother side, another common feature hits our attention: the word for uncle on the mother side is a derivation from that for grandfather (type avus), as also in Slavic and Celtic (Lat. avunculus, West Germanic *awų-haimaz, O.Ch.Sl. uji, §2, 4). The last words we will talk about (§5, 6) are those for nephew and niece, grandson and granddaughter: the type nepos is used at one time for both meanings, both in West Germanic and in Latin, at least at some stage of the language. Could we find a common explanation for all these peculiarities? Are Latin and West Germanic conservative or innovative in these kinship’s nouns? What is the cultural background?


Keywords


kinship; uncle; nephew; grandson

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References


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