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AKASS HERITAGE
PAPER SERIES
TEMIAR KINSHIP
TERMINOLOGY:
A Linguistic and
Formal Analysis ·
Geoffrey Benjamin
National University of .Singapore
OCCASIONAL PAPER NO.1
Academy of Social Sciences (AKASS)
In Cooperation With
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Royal Netherlands Government
Benjamin, Temiar Kinship Terminology: Errata
Page Position For Read
1 Paragraph 2, line 7 users-and users-and
1 Map 1, caption Temiar Temiars
5 Paragraph 1, line 1 Women woman
5 Paragraph 2, line 3 affines-a affines-a
6 Table 1, item 22 (Male's) sister's husband (Female's) sister's husband
6 Table 1, item 22 (Female's) brother's wife (Male's) brother's wife
6 Table 1, item 23 Elder sister's husband (Male's) elder sister's husband
6 Table 1, item 23 Elder brother's wife (Female's) elder brother's wife
6 Footnote 2 C*mon Coman
6 Footnote 2 S* p* yang Sopayang
7 Table 2, column 2 [man's] [male's]
9 Footnote 4 not-or not-or
11 Paragraph 1, line 1 intensity -weakening intensity-weakening
12 Paragraph 1, line 8 htltl? haa?
12 Paragraph 3, line 4 character-just character-just
13 Footnote 9 boop / born boop / bam
13 Paragraph 4, lines 2-3 terms-the majority-refer terms-the maj ority-refer
13 Footnote 10 Semai-a close relative of Temiar-to form Semai-a close relative of Temiar-to form
14 Paragraph 1, line 3 [man's] [male's]
16 Paragraph 3, line 6 out-I out-I
18 Paragraph 1, lines 2-3 would-or at least should-refer would-or at least should-refer
19 Footnote 13 comprehensible-it comprehensible-it
20 Item 6,7 generation-a major generation-a maj or
21 Paragraph 1, line 5 SpSbSp-a relative SpSbSp-a relative
21 Paragraph 2, line 2 'spouse's spouse' -i.e., co-spouse 'spouse's spouse' -i. e., co-spouse
22 Paragraph 1, line 3 tOw / m9n99y t.JW / manaay
22 Paragraph 2, line 10 resolve-incompletely-only resolve-incompletely-only
22 Paragraph 3, lines 3--4 components-lineality, relative age, sex of alter-are components-lineality, relative age, sex of alter-are
22 Footnote 17, line 6 here-that here-that
24 Paragraph 4, line 4 10-11 10-11
26 Table, item 23 Elder sister's husband (Male's) elder sister's husband
26 Table, item 24 Elder brother's wife (Female's) elder brother's wife
AKASS HERITAGE PAPER
SERIES
This series covers salient features of
Aslian cultures in Peninsular Malaysia,
Sabah and Sarawak. The first five
papers on the Orang Asli of Peninsular
Malaysia have been produced with the
support of the Royal Netherlands
Government, as a component of the
MAWAR Research Programme,
Masyarakat Madani Malaysia
Berwarisan (Malaysian Civil Society
with Heritage).
A primary objective of the AKASS
Heritage Paper Series is to promote
interest in research on indigenous
minorities and to accelerate the
conservation of their history, language
and material culture.
General Editor • Wazir lahan Karim
Email: wazir@usm.my
Copy Editor • Fabian Boudville
Email: mawar@usm.my
Graphic Designer • Cecilia Mak
About the Author
Geoffrey began his pioneering fieldwork between April 1964 and August 1965. Shorter
revisits were made in 1968, 1970. 1972, 1978 and 1994. The fieldwork has tended to
concentrate on religion, social organisation and linguistics, but other topics, such as
agriculture and local history, were also studied in the field. He has kept regular contact
with individual Temiars for the last 35 years. Geoffrey is currently attached to the
Southeast Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore.
AKASS HERITAGE PAPER SERIES
TEMIAR KINSHIP
TERMINOLOGY:
A Linguistic and
Formal Analysis
Geoffrey Benjamin
National University of Singapore
OCCASIONAL PAPER NO.1
Academy of Social Sciences (AKASS)
in Cooperation with
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Royal Netherlands Government
1999
Temiar kinship terminology:
a linguistic and formal analysis
Geoffrey Benjamin
National University of Singapore
Kinship terms and social organisation
The study of kinship terms has passed in and out of scholarly fashion many times
since the last century. Arguments have pivoted mainly around the mathematical
properties that the terms exhibit: are the terminologies synonymous with kinship as
such, or are they mere accessories to kinship-on-the-ground?
It is true, of course, that the terms alone cannot tell us much about real-life kinship
patterns. But it is also true that the terms are an intrinsic part of those kinship patterns.
This means that we must take at least two approaches. First, we need to analyse the
ordered kinship terminologies to which the kin terms belong. In the final part of this
paper I do just this by treating the Temiar referential kinship terminology as a formal
calculus or algorithm, in the hope that such an analysis might reveal how the terminology
can hold meaning for its users-and perhaps something of its inventors' intentions.
Second, we need to understand
the use of kinship terms as
ordinary words of the
language, for they carry their
own significance, independent
of the terminology as a whole.
The second part of the paper
is directed at this issue.
Temiar society
This study is complementary to
my other studies of Temiar
social organisation (Benjamin
1967, 1968a, 1968b, 1993),
and especially to my accounts
of Temiar kinship (Benjamin
1966, 2000).
100 km
'--------'
N
t
Map I : The location of the Temiar of Peninsular Malaysia
The Temiars, who numbered over 15,000 in 1999, are a Mon-Khmer-speaking Orang
Asli population, inhabiting the watershed on both sides of the Kelantan-Perak border.
A small number of Temiars also live in northern Pahang. (See Map 1.) Until recently
they lived in relatively isolated and autonomous 'tribal' circumstances, engaged
primarily in swidden agriculture. Currently, they are undergoing profound changes in
their circumstances, such that they can no longer be considered a 'tribal' population.
The material presented in this study, however, refers to the conditions of life that the
Temiars were living under in the 1960's and 1970's, when I carried out most of my
research into their culture and language. I am unable to judge how far the usages
reported here have changed in the intervening years, so this account should best be
regarded as an historical study.
Before proceeding further, then, let me present a condensed account (in the
'ethnographic present' tense) of the relevant features of Temiar social organisation as
it was during the period under study.
Kin groups and descent
Under swidden farming, the cultivable soil around the village is depleted after two
years. It then becomes necessary for the community to move, usually to a previously
inhabited area of secondary forest which has been left untouched for fifteen or more
years: this will in most cases be a formerly inhabited village site. The tropical vegetation
regrows so rapidly, however, that most such sites are barely distinguishable from the
surrounding forest. Temiars, though, recognise these sites by their untidy orchards of
seasonal fruit trees, sometimes deliberately planted but more usually sprung
spontaneously from discarded seeds.
Each of these fruit-trees is, in principle, owned. The owner is either a particular
individual or, if some time has passed since the tree was first laid claim to, a corporate
group formed from among his or her descendants. The Temiars until recently had no
overt concept of the ownership of land. Apart from moveable goods, all that might be
owned as heritable property were the products of the land (i.e., crops and individually-
claimed wild plants) or structures built upon it, such as houses or weirs. Ofthese, only
long-lived trees would survive to bear witness to the linkage that once existed between
the people of an earlier generation and 'their' land.
It is primarily through this continued acknowledgment of proprietary rights in fruit
trees that Temiars are able to talk in any determinate way about the relationship through
time of social groups to specific localities. For each present-day village there will be
many other related former and potential village sites 'owned' by the same social group,
scattered throughout the forest several miles upstream and downstream of the current
2
site. It is unusual (though not forbidden) for other local groups to have sites within
that same area. The similarity of this topographical layout to bounded plots of land or
spheres of intluence has led observers to claim that these areas (sakaa?, from Malay
pusaka 'inherited property')' are the units of land-ownership in Temiar culture. But
this belief results from a misunderstanding, at least as regards pre-modem arrangements.
Nevertheless, ever since this misunderstanding became the basis of modern
administrative practice, the Temiars began to accept the sakaa? concept, especially
where relations with non-Temiars are involved.
In formal social anthropological terms, the tree-owning village core-group just described
constitutes the operational aspect of a corporate cognatic descent group or ramage, of
the type characterised by Murdock as 'optative non-exclusive'. Anyone individual
may thus claim potential membership of several such ramages, through his or her
mother, father or other consanguine. The ramage associated with a person's natal village
is usually thought of as his or her primary ramage, even if that person has lived
elsewhere, such as in the spouse's village. In most situations, however, decisions about
local-group membership do not involve active acknowledgment of descent as such. It
is one's continuing relations with the living, not the dead, that provide the basis for
such decisions. Thus, while it is siblingship (and cousinship) that is concerned in the
day-to-day operation of village membership, descent is brought into play only when
the group's continuity through time, or individual cases of village membership, are in
doubt. Descent serves, then, merely to justify the social organisation should the need
arise.
Ramages as such do not enter into alliances, either marital or political. They do,
however, provide a basis for the allocation of political authority: the most able member
of the senior core sibling-group in each community becomes in effect the village leader.
Temiar words are printed here in a phonemic orthography uniform with the one generally
employed in Mon-Khmer studies. Temiar vowels are pronounced approximately as in the
following Malay or English words: i as in tapis, e as in leher, E as the e in get, a as the e in betul,
a as in belah, u as the first u in pucuk, 0 as the () in gol (football), :J as the () in fort, II as in
Scottish hus (i.e., 'house'). Doubled vowels are pronounced longer than single vowels: tEE?
'just now', IE? 'earth'. Vowels with a tilde on top, such as a or C, are pronounced nasally.
Consonants are mostly pronounced as in Malay: c is a palatal stop similar to the c in macam;]I
is the palatal nasal continuant, as in the ny of nyawa; C,]I and j can all occur at the end of a
word; 1) is the velar nasal continuant, as the ng in singer (not as infinger); ? is the glottal stop,
a consonantal phoneme, like the k in the Peninsular pronunciations of duduk or rakyat. The
Temiar k, however, is always pronounced as a velar, not a glottal, stop-even word-finally. Word-
stress is on the final syllable.
3
Marriage and residence
Temiar marriage is characterised by the establishing of wider, and highly marked,
affinal relations, and not just by the cohabitation of the two partners. There is little
restriction on sexual relations as such, either before marriage or out of marriage, and
a couple may live and sleep together without being regarded as 'married'. Indeed,
there is no special word for 'marry' in Temiar: the idea is expressed through a transitive
or reciprocal usage of the verb 'sleep' (sabg). Despite this relative openness, senior
members of the girl's community (such as her father, brother or village leader) will
usually seek to regularise the union by exacting public avowals from the couple that
they will keep together. Some marital gifts may be given too, though there are no
formal bridewealth or dowry requirements.
The first months or years of marriage are usually spent in the wife's community.
Thereafter, the couple may move to the husband's community, or to any other
community that is prepared to let them settle. Roughly half of Temiar couples stay put
in one community, while the remainder move frequently between different communities.
They usually try to occupy their own compartment in a communal house: compartments
contain more than one conjugal family only as a temporary expedient.
Relations between husband and wife are expected to be warm, amicable, egalitarian,
and based on free will. This is usually the case in practice, for there are few constraints
against an aggrieved or dissatisfied partner from simply leaving and ending the marriage.
Many Temiars have been married more than once, engaging in what were effectively
trial marriages. Spouses work together or in complementary ways in such activities as
farming, forest-gathering or domestic work.
No rule of marriageability, positive or negative, attaches to the Temiar ramage. But
Temiars frequently say that marriage is forbidden between people born in the same
village, even though such marriages are not particularly rare. Here, their rhetoric
collapses together two quite different kinds of social unit, the ego-centred consanguineal
kindred (parew:J:J?) and the actual group of villagers among whom the individual has
grown up. The limitations upon endogamy in Temiar society must be expressed in a
less explicit manner: one may not marry any genealogically traceable consanguineal
relative to whom one is linked by relationships that were operational during one's own
lifetime. In effect, and with few exceptions, this means that Temiars normally avoid
marrying within the range of third cousin.
Coupled with this is a preference for marrying someone in the kin category manaay, a
term that covers anyone who is being thought of as an 'opposite-sex sibling- or cousin-
in-law.' The archetypal manaayrelationship is that between a man and his wife's sisters,
4
or between a women and her husband's brothers but, like all other Temiar kinship
terms, it can be extended laterally via sibling- and cousin-links as far as one's knowledge
or patience allow. The implication is that a Temiar should preferably marry where his
or her own relatives have already married, thereby repeating and reinforcing social
linkages that have already been set up. Thus, several principles act together in guiding
the individual Temiar as to how he or she may not marry: (1) degree of residential
propinquity, (2) quality and degree of consanguineal relationship, and (3) prior affinal
relationship.
Temiar marriage generates a new pattern of relations, not just between husband and
wife, but between their relatives too. Former 'extended' consanguines become close
affines-a change that adds a degree of complicatedness to their interaction, for
formalised avoidance, joking or respect relations now apply. Affines of opposite sex
are especially constrained by these rules, which also apply (somewhat diluted) to the
siblings and cousins of the affected parties. (These rules are described below.)
It is usually possible to discern three levels of residential organisation within each
local community. First is the household, usually a single conjugal family. Second is
the household-cluster, a grouping of two or more closely related conjugal families
living in adjoining sections of the house, often sharing the same hearth, and usually
sticking together if they migrate to another village. And third is the village (Temiar:
deek, which also means 'house'), the total local community, which is usually thought
of as a familial grouping too.
Temiar kinship terminologies
The referential kinship terminology (Tables 1 and 2) is thoroughly classificatory and
bilateral; it is also basically generational in structure. Since cousins and siblings are
referred to and addressed in the same way, the terminology is of the so-called 'Hawaiian'
type. This overriding of collaterality applies to some other generations too, so that
aunts might optionally be called 'mother', uncles 'father', and nieces or nephews 'child'.
However, distinctive terms do exist for these relatives, and they are frequently employed.
Tables 1 and 2 list only the focal, non-extended kin-types, but the terms apply also to
the siblings and cousins of the relative in question.
5
Table 1: Temiar referential kin-terms
Consanguineal
1. Mother .................................................................... boo?, .Jl;);)?
2. Father ...................................................................... baah, doo?
3. Child ....................................................................... kawiiiis, ktJwEEs, ktJW;)t, ktJwat
4. Elder sibling or cousin; Elder co-spouse
l
..................... ka/oo?
5. Younger sibling or cousin; Younger co-spouse ..... pa?
6. Parent's elder sister ................................................ m;);)?
7. Parent's younger sister ........................................... waa?
8. Parent's elder brother ............................................. kooc, bee?
9. Parent's younger brother ........................................ .Jlu?
10. Elder sibling's child ............................................... koman, kam;)n
11. Younger sibling's child .......................................... cac;)? (2)
12. Grandchild ............................................................. cac;)? (1)
13. Great-grandchild .................................................... can;);)?
14. Great-great-grandchild ........................................... ciciid
15. Grandmother, Spouse's grandmother .................... yaa?
16. Grandfather, Spouse's grandfather ........................ yaak
17. Great-grandparent .................................................. d;);)t
18. Great-great-grandparent ......................................... baa}
19. Great-great-great-grandparent ............................... karEk
Affinal
20. Wife ....................................................................... . /Eh
21. Husband ................................................................. t;)W
22. Wife's sister / (Male's) sister's husband;
Husband's brother / (Female's) brother's wife ...... manaay (1)
23. Wife's younger brother / Elder sister's husband ... manaay
24. Husband's younger sister / Elder brother's wife ... manaay, manaay (2)
25. Husband's elder sister ............................................ man;);)?
26. Wife's elder brother ............................................... kanuu]1
I. 'Co-spouse' refers, in a polygamous situation, to one's spouse's other spouse(s). The co-spouse
relation is explained in more detail later.
2. Although the word Iwman (or kam::m) 'niece, nephew' is a very widely attested Mon-Khmer
etymon, it was formerly also found in (Peninsular?) Malay. Bowrey's dictionary (170 I, no
pagination) has the following entry: 'Nephew: -by a brother, C· mon', -by a sister, S· p. yang'.
Both words have since disappeared, but the first was clearly an Aslian loan into Malay. The
unilateral skewing exhibited by these older Malay terms is puzzling, as this feature is not reported
from the kinship terminology of any current Aslian language or Malay dialect (except that of
Negeri Sembilan, where matriliny rules).
6
27. (Female's) younger brother's wife;
(Male's) younger sister's husband ......................... mEnsaaw (2)
28. Spouse's parent ...................................................... bab?
29. Child's spouse ...................................................... .. mEnsaaw (1)
30. Child's spouse's parent .......................................... bisat
Proper usage of these terms depends on knowing the reciprocal of each one: if someone
is your 'X', what should your 'X' call you? The reciprocal usages are listed in the
facing columns of Table 2. (For the sake of simplicity, variant forms are omitted, and
some of the glosses are given in a slightly more generalised form than in Table 1.)
Table 2: Temiar referential kin-terms: reciprocal usages
boo? 'mother'
kawiiiis 'child'
baah 'father'
ka/oo? 'elder sibling' pa? 'younger sibling'
m;);)? 'parent's elder sister'
cac;)? (2) 'younger sibling's child'
kooc 'parent's elder brother'
waa? 'parent's younger sister'
koman 'elder sibling's child'
]1u? 'parent's younger brother'
yaa? 'grandmother'
cac;)? (1) 'grandchild'
yaak 'grandfather'
d;);)t 'great -grandparen t' can;);)? 'great-grandchild'
baa} 'great-great-grandparent'
ciciid 'great( -great)-grandchild'
karEk 'great-great-great-grandparent'
/Eh 'wife' t;)w'husband'
manaay (1) 'opposite-sex sibling- in- manaay (1) 'opposite-sex sibling-in-
law' law'
manaay 'wife's younger brother' manaay '[man's] elder sister's husband'
manaay (2) 'husband's younger sister' manaay (2) '[female's] elder brother's
wife'
man;);)? 'husband's elder sister'
mEnsaaw (2) '[female's] younger
kanuu]1 'wife's elder brother'
brother's wife' ;
'[male's] younger sister's
husband'
bab? 'parent-in-law' mEnsaaw (1) 'child-in-Iaw'
bisat 'child's spouse's parent'
'-
bisat 'child's spouse's parent'
7
Consanguineal address and reference
A formal analysis of the entire referential terminology:both consanguineal and affinal,
is presented in the final section of this paper. In this section, I present a less formal,
introductory account of the consanguineal forms of reference and address.
In its most elaborated form, the consanguineal reference terminology makes the
distinctions shown in Table 3. Generation level is relative to ego: level 0 is ego's own
generation (cousins, for example); level + 1 is one's parents' generation; level -2 is
one's grandchildren's generation; and so on. 'Relative age' refers to the connecting
sibling link: 'mother's younger sister', for example, is referred to by a different term
than 'mother's elder sister'.
Table 3: Temiar consanguineal kin-terminology: component distinctions
Generation level Generationality Relative age Sex of alter Collaterality
+4 x
+3 x
+2 x x
+1 x x x x
0 x x
-1 x x x
-2 x
-3 x
Thus, the process of finding the appropriate referential kinship term (Tables 1 and 2)
reduces, for all except close kin, to just a few basic decisions. One needs to know,
first, whether the other person is to be placed in one's own or in an adjacent generational
level and, second, whether that person is related by marriage (affinally) or by birth
(consanguineally). If one decides that the relationship should be treated as
consanguineal, finer distinctions may then be made on the basis of the two kinspersons'
relative age (older/younger) and sex (male/female).
The consanguineal direct-address terms are simpler, for they collapse generational
and relative-age distinctions together onto the single distinction of relative age (Table
4). The only exception is in addressing one's elder siblings (or cousins). Strictly
speaking, therefore, the consanguineal address terms do not really constitute a
terminology, much less a kinship terminology. They are just a set of relative-age terms
cross-cut by sex and generationality. The terms and their componential structure are
as follows:
8
Table 4: Temiar relative-age address terms and components
Senior generation
?ajaa? (female), ?ataa? (male)
Own generation ( older)
?aseew (female), ?ataay (male)
Younger generation & own generation (younger)
?alch (female), ?at:Jw (male)
Relative age Own v. higher generation
Older x
Younger
Sex of alter
x
x
The consanguineal kin-terms can be employed addressively, however: they are used
when talking to kin of one's parent's or higher generations. The address terms are
formed by attaching the prefix ?a- to the appropriate referential term. An 'uncle',
kooc, for example, will be addressed as ?akooc.
2
Kin younger than oneself will be
addressed either by one of their personal names or by the appropriate relative-age
address term. Personal names too normally have the ?a- prefix attached.
3
Older siblings
and cousins are addressed by the special terms given above. (See the Appendix for
further details.)
With these schemes in mind, Temiars can travel for a hundred miles or so, even into
Semang or Semai (and sometimes Malay) territory, building up kinship-based rights
and obligations as they go. These same newly built relationships may then be activated
in turn by that individual's own kin, if and when they choose. Temiars thus have the
means to extend their kinship relations at will to considerable distances. They do this
by placing primary structural importance on the sibling linkage. This underlies both
the sociology of their mode of group formation (where a principle of sibling solidarity
applies) and the cultural logic of their kinship reckoning (where a principle of sibling
equivalence applies).4 Analysis of the referential kinship terminology (see Tables 8, 9
The productive nature of this process was confirmed when I heard a girl address her great-
grandmother (d:J:Jt) as ?ad:J:Jt, a word used only infrequently.
The linguistic semantics of the affix ?a- is discussed in Benjamin in preparation b.
The phrases 'sibling solidarity' and 'sibling equivalence' have often been frowned upon by
social anthropologists; they are employed here as variables, however, not universals. In the
Malay Peninsula some kinship systems display sibling solidarity, and others do not-or, in the
terminology I have used elsewhere (1980, 1985), some are characterised by conjunctive
siblingship and others by disjunctive siblingship.
9
and 10, below) and of the personal naming system (Benjamin 1968a) shows that both
of these cultural paradigms embody the same basic model of social process, namely,
the progressive generation of a group of siblings out of a set of affinal and filiative
ties which simultaneously undergo progressive degeneration. This indigenous
embedded view of Temiar social organisation corresponds very closely to the actual
patterns of social aggregation at the three significant levels of social organisation: the
household, the household-cluster, and the village.
The affinal referential terminology reported in Tables 1 and 2 makes the following
distinctions (Table 5; cf. Table 3):
Table 5: Temiar affinal kin-terminology: the components
Generation level Generation Relative age Sex of alter Relative sex Collaterality
+1
o
-1
x
x
x
x x x x
Here, 'relative sex' marks whether ego and alter are of the same or opposite sex;
'collaterality' marks the distinction between one's own spouse on the one hand and
one's spouse's siblings or siblings' spouses on the other. (Alternative analyses are
possible, but need not detain us here; they will be discussed elsewhere.)
Most of the affinal terms (Tables 1 and 2, second part) refer to in-laws of one's own
generation. The only other referential terms area single word each for 'parent-in-law'
(bab?), 'child-in-Iaw' (mEnsaaw) and 'child's spouse's parent' (bisat, from Malay
bisan). (From the Temiar point of view, the latter relation couldjust as well be regarded
as consanguineal.) Relatives-by-marriage who fall above or below these three middle
generations are referred to by the same consanguineal terms as one's spouse uses for
them. For example, one refers to one's spouse's grandmother as 'grandmother' (yaa?)
too. This simplicity is counterweighed, however, by the five 'sibling-in-Iaw' terms; no
other Peninsular kinship pattern is as complicated in this regard. The respective address
terms are even more complicated. First, let us first examine the ideal content of the
various affinal relationships.
Complete avoidance is expected between parent-in-law (bab?) and child-in-Iaw
(mEnsaaw) of opposite sex (i.e., between a man and his wife's mother, and between a
woman and her husband's father). These relatives may not talk to, touch, or sit next to
each other, nor may they utter each other's names. This avoidance taboo varies in
10
intensity-weakening towards the south of Temiar country-but it never drops out
completely. Like all the other relations, it extends also to the individuals' siblings and
cousins, but in a diluted manner.
In contrast, a sexually-charged joking relation holds between siblings-in-Iaw of opposite
sex (i.e., between a man and his wife's sister, and between a woman and her husband's
brother).5 These relatives all refer to each other by the term manaay. Whether or not
the manaay in question are single or married, they may have sexual relations with each
other if they wish. The institutionalised teasing that attaches to the cross-sex manaay
relation presumably relates to the ambivalence occasioned by the fact that one or both
of the individuals are usually already married. The few polygamous marriages that
occur almost always take place between mallaay. Although I never came across a
woman married to two brothers, I witnessed several marriages between a man and two
sisters, with all three sharing the same sleeping platform.
6
Between siblings-in-Iaw of the same sex (i.e., between a man and his wife's brothers,
and between a woman and her husband's sisters) relations are structured in a more
complicated manner, for they vary with the relative age of the connecting siblings.
Between a man and his wife's younger brother, and between a woman and her husband's
younger sister, relations are easy-going and reciprocal. Ideally, at least, they should
co-operate amicably in productive activities. This is reflected in the reciprocal character
of the kin-term, manaay, that labels all these relationships: your own manaay also
refers to you as manaay.
Asymmetry, however, marks the relation between a man and his wife's elder brother,
and between a woman and her husband's elder sister. This relationship is like a diluted
version of the relation between child-in-Iaw and parent-in-law: in both cases, the term
for the junior relative is the same, mEnsaaw. (For convenience, I have marked these as
mEnsaaw (J) and mEnsaaw (2) in Tables 1 and 2.) The reciprocal senior terms are
kanuujt 'wife's elder brother' andman.J.J? 'husband's elder sister'. There is no avoidance
between these same-sex relatives; but the junior is expected to act on the senior's
orders without complaint.
There may have been some change in these rules since the 1930s, for Noone reports only that
the possibility of sexual relations holds between a man and his elder brother's wife. This will be
discussed in more detail in Benjamin in preparation a.
I remember reading that H. D. Noone had come across cases of polyandry among the Terniars,
but I have failed to find the reference in a search of his writings.
11
Table 6: Temiar affinal address: degrees of distance
Pronoun Opposite sex Same sex
['Singular' :] Spouse; -
haa?! 'you' Spouse's sibling /
Sibling's spouse
['Dual':] - Spouse's younger sibling /
ka?an! 'you-two' Elder sibling's spouse
['Plural' :] - Spouse's parenti
]l;)b! 'you-all' Child's spouse;
Spouse's elder sibling /
Younger sibling's spouse
[Avoidance] Spouse's parent / -
Child's spouse
As indicated in Table 6, the gradations in interactional distance exhibited by these in-
law relationships are mirrored in the choice of second-person pronouns used in direct
address between them. In Temiar, pronouns have dual ('two-person') forms as well as
the more usual singular and plural forms. This allows a three-way distinction; most
other languages have just a one-way (e.g., modern English: you) or two-way (e.g.,
French: tulvous) distinction. The least marked term in Temiar is the grammatically
singular pronoun, haa? ('you'), which is used to address strangers, friends, and all
consanguineal kin. Between affines, however, haa? is used only between opposite-sex
siblings-in-Iaw (manaay).
More 'distant' affines address each other by the grammatically plural pronoun,fl;)b ('you-
all'), even when talking to a single person. The term is thus used between parent-in-law
(bab?) and child-in-Iaw (mensaaw) ofthe same sex
7
as well as between their respective
siblings and cousins. It is also used with the other mensaaw relationship, between senior
and junior same-generation affines of opposite sex: husband's elder sister (man;);)?) and
younger sister's husband (mensaaw), or wife's elder brother (kanuufl) and younger sister's
husband (mensaaw). This, of course, is a kind of surrogate parent-in-law relationship, so
it is quite appropriate that it too should be marked by use of the plural pronoun.
As a term of affinal address, the dual pronoun, ka?an ('you-two'), is reserved for use
by those in the reciprocal same-sexmanaayrelationship: a man with his wife's younger
brother, and a woman with her husband's younger sister. This relationship is supposed
to be neither remote ('plural') nor too easy-going (,singular') in character-just
Remember that opposite-sex bab? and mcnsaaw may not talk to each other at all.
12
somewhere in between ('dual').8
The gradation between Singular, Dual and Plural is thus used as a trope, marking a
cline of interactional distance between affines. But the cline stretches even further
than this, for special pseudo-pronouns are used when referring to those affines whom
one may not speak to directly, especially when they are within earshot. These 'reference-
in-address' terms employ complex third-person expressions that are grammatically
plural, even though the referent is singular. An example is (men-)?un-re?yaa?, literally
'(plurality of) they big ones', for use when referring to one's opposite-sex parent-in-
law. Similar expressions, such as (men-)?un-boop '(plurality of-) they-you's'9 are
sometimes used in reference to a same-sex affine in a 'you-plural' relationship. These
forms are too complicated for further discussion here; they will be presented elsewhere.
Linguistic properties of some Temiar kin-terms
As noted earlier, the Temiar rules of behaviour between persons in different kin
categories fall into two main classes: those that are determinate, and those that are in
some way ambiguous or ambivalent. The rule of behaviour between a man and his
wife's mother, for example, is unambiguously one of complete avoidance, but this
contrasts with the ambivalent joking relationship that he should observe with his wife's
sister. This distinction turns out to have direct linguistic correlates.
Looked at simply as words, Temiar kinship terms divide into two classes: those that
contain one morpheme and those that contain two. The monomorphemic terms-the
majority-refer to those kin relationships that have an unambiguous behavioural
character. The seven bimorphemic terms, on the other hand, refer to those relationships
that exhibit ambivalence or ambiguity. The latter are listed in Table 7. The first of
these, cac;)? 'grandchild; younger sibling's child', with its reduplicated consonant and
-a- infix, has the same morphemic pattern as appears in the middle-voice inflection of
verbs (Benjamin 1976: 169f.). The remaining six terms consist of a root plus the infix
-n- (Benjamin 1976: 174f.). In present-day Temiar this infix serves mainly to turn
verbs into verbal nouns, but comparative evidence suggests that it probably was also
formerly used to convert simple nouns into 'collectives' or 'indefinites'. If so, its use
to mark ambivalence or ambiguousness is quite understandable. 10
This 'dualness' of reciprocal co-operation between manaay is reflected also in the very frequent
use of dual pronouns in Temiar stories to refer to those who travel together on hunting or wife-
searching expeditions.
See also items 25 and 26 in the Appendix, below. In Temiar boop does not occur as a word by
itself, but it is cognate with the lahai and Kensiu pronoun born 'you (plural),.
10 Strangely, the same infix, -n-, is used in Semai-a close linguistic relative of Temiar-to form the
referential kin-terms; the addressive terms are the simpler words morphologically.
13
Table 7: Bimorphemic kin terms in Temiar
M;maay 'opposite-sex sibling-in-Iaw' < *baay3 + -n-
Mensaaw 'child-in-Iaw' < *basaawt + -n-
Mim:x)?'husband's elder sister' < m;);)? 'parent's elder sister' + -n-
KanuuJl 'wife's elder brother' < kooc 'parent's elder brother' + -n-
Manaay 'spouse's younger opposite-sex sibling' < *baay + -n-
Can;);)? 'great-grandchild' < C;);)? 'pet, patient, etc.; slap' + -n-
3. The reconstructible root *btJtJy does not occur as a word in Temiar. In Semai, however, btJay is
used as an address term for anyone younger than oneself; in the Bertam valley it is used specifi-
cally to address a younger sister (Gerard Diffloth, personal communication). Wider Mon-Khmer
and Munda cognates also exist; most of them are address forms to females.
4. Although the root *btJsaaw is not found as a word in Temiar, it has clear cognates in other
Aslian languages: Jah HutptJsaw, Chewong btJsew 'child's spouse'. There are further cognates
in other Eastern and Northern Mon-Khmer languages.
5. The root *baay does not occur as a word in Temiar, but probable cognates are found elsewhere
in the Mon-Khmer languages, as for example in literary Monbaay 'spouse's elder sister'. Wider
Mon-Khmer cognates occur, but the issues are too complicated for further discussion here.
The ambivalence that characterises the sibling-in-Iaw relationships indicated by the
terms manaay ('opposite-sex sibling-in-Iaw'), man;);)? ('husband's elder sister'), kanuuJl
('wife's elder brother') and manaay ('wife's younger brother', '[man's] elder sister's
husband' etc.) was discussed in the previous section.
Two other terms are referentially ambiguous. Mensaaw 'child's spouse; younger cross-
sex sibling's spouse' is the reciprocal of both bab? 'spouse's parent' and of man;);)?
'husband's elder sister' or kanuuJl 'wife's elder brother' (see Table 2). Similarly, cac;)?
is the reciprocal of grand-parental and avuncular terms, since it denotes both
'grandchild' and 'younger sibling's child'. The double reference of mensaaw makes
sense in relation to actual behaviour: the same considerable degree of respect is required
towards one's wife's elder brother or husband's elder sister as to one's parent-in-law.
The merging of 'grandchild' and 'younger sibling's child' in the term cac;)? can be
similarly explained. Both are juniors, addressed as such by the use of the same relative-
age term, ?aleh or ?at;)w (see Table 3). (Behaviour alone, however, cannot explain
why the referential term for 'elder sibling's child', koman or kam;)n, remains unmerged.)
A further glance at Tables 1 and 2 will show that, in addition to signalling behavioural
ambivalence, the terms mensaaw (2), manaay and manaay exhibit considerable
referential ambiguity. All three terms exhibit the same morphological structure,
involving the infix -n-. The transformations involved are of considerable interest.
14
The root morphemes of man;);)? 'husband's elder sister' and kanuuJl 'wife's elder
brother' are kin-terms in their own right: m;);)? 'parent's elder sister' andkooc 'parent's
elder brother'. II In a very literal sense, then, the kin category 'spouse's.elder cross-
sibling' (man;);)?/kanuUjl) contains within it the category 'parent's elder sibling' (m;);)?/
kooc). It is as if ego were to say, 'when I am dead my child will call my kanuuJl (wife's
elder brother) "uncle" (kooc), shedding his or her filiative links with me and my affinal
links with my brother-in-law (kanuuJl)'. Whatever else may lie behind this, I think it is
yet another expression of the progressive sloughing of affinal and filiative links the
better to stress sibling/cousin links. I have already commented on this as underlying
both the Temiar personal naming system (Benjamin 1968a: 127) and the kinship system
(Benjamin 1967: 24). Here, the Temiar language has been made to express literally in
single words an image of social structure that holds for several different levels ~ f
social organisation.
The 'great-grandchild' term can;);)? has as its root the morph C;);)?, one of the most
polysemic in the language. Its meanings are: (1) 'who?, whom?'; (2) 'to punch, slap';
(3) 'something that has been given a name'; and (4) 'pet, tamed animal', 'familiar of
the gods,' 'term of address of a spirit-medium to his cured patient or of a midwife to
someone whose birth she attended' . The ambiguity here is evident enough. Furthermore,
usage (4), along with its reciprocal tohaat 'healer', is the only fictitious kinship term
in the language: the C;);)?/tohaat relationship has the emotive content of a kinship
relationship without its genealogical basis. This wide scatter of meanings is made yet
more complicated by the fact that can;);)? is cognate with words for 'grandchild', rather
than 'great-grandchild', in other Aslian and wider Mon-Khmer languages. It has
presumably changed its meaning: the short vowel of the current Temiar 'grandchild'
word, cac;)?, shows that the latter was probably borrowed from a Northern Aslian
language (most likely Jahai).
A formal analysis of Temiar referential kinship terminology
Now let us turn to the structure of the kinship terminology as a whole. Of the several
methods available in the literature for carrying out formal analyses of whole kinship
terminologies, none seems quite as comprehensive or as intuitively satisfying as the
generative approach developed by Floyd Lounsbury some thirty-five years ago.
Following Lounsbury (1964: 351), a 'formal account' of a collection of data has been
given 'when there have been specified (1) a set of primitive elements, and (2) a set of
11 For the quite regular consonantal changes involved in deriving ktJnuuJI from kooc, see Benjamin
1976: 143-144. The raising of 0 to u, in this case, is by assimilation to the raised tongue position
of the preceding n, indicating that ktJnuuJI is an old word rather than a recent formation.
15
rules for operating on these, such that by the application of the latter to the former the
elements of a "model" are generated.' Further, such an account should be sufficient
and parsimonious. 12
The analysis presented below (Tables 8, 9 and 10) is based directly on Lounsbury's
technique, but applied to a very differently structured terminology than the ones he
was interested in. The same general assumption applies, however: that the highly formal,
calculus-like, character of kinship terminologies means they should be analysed as
wholes, and not just for the separate parts they contain. In effect, the terminologies are
I
seen as bearing a hblographic relation to the social reality that they represent. In
particular, it is the processual, inter-generational reshaping of role relations, as mediated
by genealogical idiom, that the imagery is focused on.
There are two stages to the analysis. First, reduction rules are worked out to define the
mapping of distant relatives onto focal kin-type superclasses that cannot be reduped
any further. Second, the superclasses are subjected to a further derivational process by
the application of relevant genealogical components so as to derive the actual kin-
terms out of the more abstract superclasses. There is no space here to demonstrate
how each stage of the analysis was worked out-I must just ask you either to take my
word for it or propose a better analysis! In any case, the final statement is, I hope,
transparent enough to speak largely for itself. I shall concentrate on pointing out its
significant features and on suggesting how they might be sociologically interpreted.
12 As Wierzbicka has pointed out (1992: Chapter 9), this kind of analysis does not provide
definitions of the separate kinship terms. But that was never the aim: it is intended, rather, to
provide a means of analysing the kinship terminology as a whole, thereby leading us from
semantics to sociology.
16
Table 8: Reduction rules for Temiar kinship terminology
Ch Child Pa Parent Sp Spouse Sb Sibling
Br Brother Si Sister So Son DaDaughter
Fa Father Mo Mother Hu Husband Co Cousin
eSb Elder sibling ySb Younger sibling . .. Linking relati ve
Sb= Same-sex sibling Sb:;t Opposite-sex sibling
1. Unifiliation blocking rule:
Let the absolute gender of any linking relative be considered irrelevant.
Rules 2-6 are unordered with respect to each other, but they are ordered with respect to rules 1 and
7, which should be applied respectively before and after all possible applications of rules 2-6 have
been performed.
2. Half-sibling rule: a. ... PaCh => ... Sb
Let any linking relative's parent's child be regarded as equivalent to that linking
relative's own sibling.
b. .. .ChPa => ... Sb
Let any linking relative's child's parent be regarded as equivalent to that linking
relative's own sibling.
3. Merging rule: a.
Let any person's sibling, when a link to some other consanguineal relative, be
regarded as equivalent to that person himself or herself directly linked to that
relative.
b.
Let the sibling of any linking consanguineal relative be regarded as equivalent
to that linking relative.
17
4. Step-parent rule: a. PaSp Pa
Let any person's parent's spouse be considered to be that person's parent.
h.
Let any person's spouse's child be considered to be that person's child.
5. Grand-affine rule: a. SpPaPa PaPa
Let any person's spouse's parent's parent be considered to be that person's
parent's parent.
h. ChChSp ChCh
Let any person's child's child's spouse be considered to be that person's child's
child.
6. Co-spouse rule: a. ... SbSp ... Sp
Let the sibling's spouse of any linking relative be regarded as equivalent to that
linking relative's own spouse.
h. . .. SpSb ... Sp
Let the spouse's sibling of any linking relative be regarded as equivalent to that
linking relative's own spouse.
The following second-order rule is applicable only to kin types that have been wholly 'reduced' by
application of the first six rules'
7. In-law rule: a.
Let the spouse of any person's same-sex sibling be considered to be that person's
spouse.
h.
Let any person's spouse's same-sex sibling be considered to be that person's
spouse.
How do these rules work? Suppose we need to know how a Temiar would-or at least,
should-refer to a distant relative whose genealogical connections have just been
uncovered. Let us assume that the relative is ego's mother's father's father's younger-
brother's wife's elder-sister's husband's brother's son's wife. First, for simplicity, we
write out the kin type in abbreviated form:
18
MoFaFay BrWieSiHuBrSo Wi
Next, we apply the Unifiliation Blocking Rule (no. 1): this neutralises all the irrelevant
gender allocations ofthe linking relatives. We also disregard the 'elder' and 'younger'
subscripts, which are irrelevant at this stage:
PaPaPaSbSpSbSpSbCh Wi
Finally, we apply all the relevant rules, from among rules 2 to 6, to the kin-type formula.
It is simplest to work from left to right, and progressively down the page, until no
more reductions are possible:

,.... I
Pa
Sl:.5h
Pa Ch
I I '
Pa
,
Sb
I
Pa
Sp
Thus, by reducing PaSb ... to Pa ... (applying Rule 3b), ... SpSb to ... Sp (applying Rule
5b), SpCh to Ch (applying Rule 4b), and so on, we eventually discover that the distant
relative belongs in the category 'parent's parent'. Since she is a female, she is a
classificatory 'grandmother', and ego is her classificatory 'grandchild'.
The transformational rules set out in Table 8 are of course reversible, according as we
are interested in the extension or the reduction of kin terms. But when viewed as steps
in a progression they allow of no choice. 'Even a preferential system is prescriptive at
the level of the model, while even a prescriptive system cannot but be preferential at
the level of the reality' (Levi-Strauss 1966: 17).13 Any implicit messages or images
that they carry therefore remain in place, bound up in everyday behaviour and
continually regenerated by that behaviour, until someone manages to persuade the
people to change their ways. Moreover, the closely cross-referring relation between
the seven rules ensures their holographic properties: each rule alone may bear its own
message, but it does so only to the extent that it also reflects the imagery presented by
13 This sentence of Levi-Strauss's has been widely regarded as a piece of nonsense, among British
anthropologists especially. If one takes a sufficiently dialectical approach to social analysis,
however, the sentence not only becomes comprehensible-it serves as a piece of uncommon
good sense. (This comment is not intended as a general endorsement of Levi-Straussian
structuralism. )
19
the terminology as a whole. This will become clear as we examine each of the
transformational rules in turn.
1. The unifiliation blocking rule ensures the complete cognaticism of the
terminology: it equates mother and father, sister and brother, etc., only when they
are linking relatives, not as persons or roles in their own right. The rule also acts to
exclude relative-sex considerations from the consanguineal portion of the
terminology. 14
2. The half-sibling rule may seem too obvious to be worth stating (and it may
well prove to be a universal feature of all kinship terminologies), but stated explicitly
it must be, or we cannot proceed with the analysis.
3. The merging rule expresses the fundamental equivalence of siblings, in accord
with the conceptual and moral conjunctiveness of siblings at all levels of Temiar
social organisation.
4. The step-parent rule ensures the complete bilaterality of the system, and it also
expresses the sloughing of affinal linkages in ascending generations relative to
ego. One's spouse's grandparents, for example, are treated as one's own
grandparents. IS
5. The grand-affine rule expresses the same sloughing of affinal links, but looked
at from ego's child's point of view. It makes one's own parents and one's spouse's
parents equally the grandparents of one's child.
6, 7. The co-spouse and in-law rules express the maintenance of affinal linkages
in one's own generation-a major element in Temiar social relations.
Successive application of these reduction rules to all (non re-entrant) kin-types produces
a set of kin-type kernels or superclasses (Table 9) that cannot be reduced any further
by application of the rules. (As we shall see shortly, though, they are subdivisible into
the ordinary kinship categories of Temiar kinship by the application of appropriate
components.) One property is worthy of note at this stage: the superclasses are sex-
free. This indicates at a formal level the completely bilateral, cognatic character of the
Temiar kinship terminology.
14 Although cognaticism is an almost universal feature of the indigenous Peninsular kin-
terminologies, it should not be thought that it is therefore 'natural'. Elsewhere (Benjamin in
preparation a), I argue that Malayan cognaticism has, on the contrary, been maintained by
deliberate political shaping, disguised as 'custom' or 'culture'.
15 This rule turns the Temiar kindred into what some anthropologists have called a 'kith'.
20
Table 9: Temiar kin-type kernels
Consanguineal
Ch
ChCh
ChChCh ...
Pa
PaPa
PaPaPa
PaPaPaPa ...
Sb
Co-Kin
SpSp
ChSpPa
Affinal
Sp
SpPa
ChSp
Sb;tSp
SpSb;t
With one exception, the superclasses listed in Table 9 are perfectly comprehensible as
kin-types: the notions 'parent's parent's parent' or 'spouse's opposite-sex sibling' make
sense. But what are we to make ofthe puzzling string SpSp? This superclass, 'spouse's
spouse', is the automatic result of applying the In-law or Co-spouse rule to the kin-
type SpSbSp-a relative that most people have, whether or not their cultural tradition
regards him or her as a kinsperson. In English such relatives (wife's brother's wife, for
example), if recognised at all, are usually assimilated to the 'sibling-in-Iaw' category.
In other languages, distinctive terms are used (as with the Malay term biras 'wife's
sister's husband'). The Temiar terminology, however, has no distinctive term for
'spouse's sibling's spouse': the 'sibling' terms are used instead. This is quite consistent
with the preference for marrying into the same group of people that one's own siblings
and cousins have already married into. Two individuals marrying into the same sibling-
set easily come to be thought of as classificatory siblings.
A similar argument applies to the very few cases of polygamy that occur. In such
cases, the category SpSp refers quite literally to 'spouse's spouse' -i.e., co-spouse. It
makes sense that this relationship too should be expressed in Temiar by using a 'sibling'
term. As noted earlier, polygamy usually involves sororal polygyny, in which one's
'spouse's spouse' is in fact one's sister.
Further confirmation of the cognitive reality of the kin superclasses represented by the
kin-type kernels of Table 9 is provided by a variety of expressions that occur in ordinary
Temiar conversation. Thus, boo? 'mother' 16 and baah 'father' are often used optionally
16 Boo? also means 'tree-trunk' in Temiar. The 'mother-as-tree' idea is commonly reflected in
Southeast Asian languages; for a detailed discussion of the Temiar instance, and its lexical
consequences, see Benjamin 1994: 60-61.
21
for addressing a close aunt or uncle, respectively. Reciprocally, people often refer to
their nephews and nieces (koman) as their 'children' (kawtitis). Similarly, lEh 'wife'
and tOw 'husband' are frequently used in addressing one's m9n99y 'opposite-sex
sibling-in-Iaw'). These usages are indicated at the appropriate points on the
componential analysis diagram below (Table 10).
We have now reached the lowest level at which the structure of the kinship tenninology
retains its fixity. Condensed within it is an image of social organisation that recurs
throughout the material: the generation of all-important sibling links out of the
simultaneous degeneration of affinal and filiative links. I suggest that we have here in
stateable fonn the essence of the Temiars' own model of their social structure. This
same image reoccurs in other contexts in Temiar culture. I have already mentioned its
place in the logic of the Temiar personal naming system (see Benjamin 1968a). It also
underpins the Temiar view that early childhood is dangerous in almost equal measure
for child, mother and father: all three are involved in a dialectic of shared personhood
that will resolve-incompletely-only when the child matures (see Benjamin 1994).
The superclasses are only in part the operative categories of Temiar kinship. The full
set of terms appears after the superclasses have undergone further componential
differentiation (Table 10). Since the various differentiating components-lineality,
relative age, sex of alter-are secondary, and cover optatively only part of the system,
they may be regarded as a fonnal representation of the element of choice. The choice
is a structured one, however. This suggests that we should continue the search for
some correlation between the kinship tenninology and regular social behaviour. I?
Societies with supposedly identical kinship 'structures', as revealed through a high-
level analysis of the kinship tenninology, may differ considerably in actual operation
and feeling. The componential part of Temiar kin-tenninological structure may usefully
be examined in this light, and I sketch here some of the ways in which the componential
distinctions may correlate with certain features of the content of social relationships.
17 The incorporation of Sb= ('same-sex sibling') and Sb* ('opposite-sex sibling') into the
superclasses has disguised some of the hocus-pocus. Alternative analyses could be made of the
untidily structured sibling-in-Iaw terms, employing as components: 'sex-of-speaker' and
'relative-sex (of ego and alter),. This I interpret as representing the possibility of changing
focus in ego's operation of the system, something that the manaay / manaay distinction also
allows. This relates in turn to an issue not discussed here-that the Temiar language has borrowed
kin-terms from the languages of the Aslian-speaking neighbours who surround them on all
sides. This makes the Temiar terminology the most complicated of all Orang Asli terminologies:
the others are simpler, laying emphasis on relative age, or relative sex, or sex of alter, or even
in-law-ness, but not in combination. I shall discuss these comparative issues elsewhere.
22
Table 10: Componential derivation of Temiar kin terms
Further subdivision, by additional components, of the superclasses listed
in Table 9 produces the 'final' categories of Temiar kinship tenns of
reference. The components are: Lineality (lineallcollateral, lIc), Relative
Age of ego's or alter's immediately connecting sibling (elder/younger,
+/-), Sex of Alter (female/male, flm).
flm lie +/-
,....-------kawccs child
Ch ,---_ koman elder sibling's child
"""-----I
'---- cac.??(2) grandchild
ChCh----------------cac.??( 1) younger sibling's child
ChChCh can.?.?? great-grandchild
.....------- boo? mother

m.?.?? parent's elder sister
Pa waa? parent's younger sister
baah father
baah-1 kooc parent's elder brother
'----flU? parent's younger brother
PaPa------I.----------- yaa? grandmother
"""-----------yaak grandfather
Sb--------------:----kaloo? elder sibling or cousin
____ po? younger sibling or cousin
r-------leh wife
[
leh---i
"""------- manaay wife's sister
.-------t.?w husband
t.?w---1
"""------- manaay husband's brother
,....--- man.?.?? husband's elder sister

'----manaay husband' younger sister
.----kanuufl wife's elder brother
'---------1
SpSt!-----t
'----manaay wife's younger sister
.----manaay (woman's) elder brother's wife
Sb*Sp-------------f (man's) elder sister's husband
'---- menSaaW2) (woman's) younger brother's wife
(man's) younger sister's husband
ChSp----------------mensaal1(J) child's spouse
SpPa bob? spouse's parent
ChSpPa bisat child's spouse's parent
23
The components 'relative age' and 'relative sex' always apply to the connecting sibling
relationship, and not to age or sex relative to ego. This adds greater emphasis to the
structural priority of sibling links.
The distinction'between 'lineal' and 'collateral' relatives among members of the same
or adjacent gellerations suggests a variable emphasis on the conjugal family on the
I
one hand and on the larger, but still important, household cluster and village on the
other. The context will help each person to decide what level to be concerned with at
any moment. In a society where sudden death used to be a constant menace this ability
to step over the bounds of the conjugal family was of great importance in allowing for
the fostering of motherless children by their collateral relatives.
The merging of lineal and collateral relatives in the second and higher ascending
generations relates to the structural necessity of forgetting collateral branches of the'
ramage title-genealogies. The higher terms baa} 'great-great-grandparent' and karek
'great-great-great-grandparent' (Tables I and 2) are used, if at all, only in this context,
and never to identify personally distinguished ancestors. In any case, these two terms
are often confused and few people can define them accurately out of context.
The distinction between aff!nes of the 'same sex' and 'opposite sex' is made only for
one's own generation. As mentioned earlier, this distinction relates to the authority
relationships inherent in the different domains of subsistence activity undertaken by
the two sexes (Benjamin 1967: 10-11). There is also an obvious correlation between
these components and the possibility or not of sex relations between people in the
relevant kin categories, as discussed earlier.
The possibility of sex relations also connects with the distinction between 'male kin'
and 'female kin' (of one's own generation). The distinction in sex for kin of the first
two ascending generations refers to the possibility that one's uncles, aunts and
grandparents might become substitutes for one's own parents, either temporarily or
through death. The females are distinguished as potential mothers, and the males as
potential fathers. More generally, from a child's point of view the first two ascending
generations are those most concerned with providing for the community. The sexual
distinction coincides in effect with the distinction between those who normally stay at
home to raise the child and those who go out to find meat or trade.
The distinction between 'elder' and 'younger' is relatively the most efficient of all the
componential distinctions and corresponds to the widespread responsibility all Temiars
are expected to feel for the welfare of their juniors, and reciprocally to the duty of
respect towards one's seniors.
24
Appendix: Temiar addressive kin-terminology
For the sake of completeness, a full list of Temiar addressive kin-terms is presented
here, in the same format as the list of referential terms given in Table 1. The terms
fall into two main classes: (a) those that are formed from the equivalent referential
term by adding the proclitic ?a- (or ?am-) to the root-syllable, and (b) those that are
really relative-age terms. These have already been discussed in the body of the essay.
Additionally, there are (c) affinal addressive terms that have unique forms of their
own, such ?a?is 'spouse!' (nos. 20, 21), (d) those that employ special metaphors or
syntactic processes, such as (?un-)m:J:J? 'husband's elder sister' (no. 25: literally
'(they-)aunt'), or (e) those that lack the expected ?a- prefix (nos. 20, 21, 25, 26).
Consanguineal
1. Mother ........................................................................................ ?amboo?
2. Father ......................................................................................... ?ambaah
3. Child (female/male) ................................................................... ?aleh / ?at:Jw
4. Elder sibling or cousin; elder co-spouse
Same-sex (female/male) .......................................................... ?aseew / ?ataay
Opposite-sex (female/male) ..................................................... m:J:J? / kooc
5. Younger sibling or cousin;
Younger co-spouse (female/male) ........................................... ?aleh / ?at:Jw
6. Parent's elder sister .................................................................... ?am:J:J?
7. Parent's younger sister ............................................................... ?awaa?
8. Parent's elder brother ................................................................. ?akooc, ?abee?
9. Parent's younger brother ............................................................ ?aflu?
10. Elder sibling's child (female/male) ............................................ ?aleh / ?at:Jw
11. Younger sibling's child (female/male) ....................................... ?aleh / ?at:Jw
12. Grandchild (female/male) .......................................................... ?aleh / ?at:Jw
13. Great-grandchild (female/male) ................................................ ?aleh / ?at:Jw
14. Great-great-grandchild (female/male) ....................................... ?aleh / ?at:Jw
15. Grandmother, Spouse's grandmother ........................................ ?ayaa?
16. Grandfather, Spouse's grandfather ............................................ ?ayaak
17. Great-grandparent ...................................................................... ?ad:J:Jt
18. Great-great-grandparent ............................................................. NONE
19. Great-great-great-grandparent ................................................... NONE
25
Affinal
20. Wife
Childless ...................................................... ............................ Ich, ?a?is
With child ................................................................................ TEKNONYM
21. Husband
Childless .................................................................................. t;}W, ?a?is
With child ................................................................................ TEKNONYM
22. Wife's sister / (Female's) sister's husband;
Husband's brother / (Male's) brother's wife
Either sex· ................................................................................. ?anaay
Female/male .......................................................................... ... Ich / t;}W
23. Wife's younger brother / Elder sister's husband ....................... ?anaay
24. Husband's younger sister / Elder brother's wife ....................... ?anaay, ?a?oy
25. Husband's elder sister ................................................................ (?un-)m;};}?
26. Wife's elder brother ................................................................... (?un-)kooc
27. (Female's) younger brother's wife ............................................. ?alch
(Male's) younger sister's husband ............................................. ?at;}w
28. Spouse's parent
Wife's mother, Husband's father ............................................. TABOO
Wife's father ............................................................................ ?atcl
Husband's mother .......................... ; ......................................... ?a?cjl
29. Child's spouse
(Female's) daughter's husband, (male's) son's wife ................ TABOO
(Female's) son's wife ............................................................... ?alch
(Male's) daughter's husband .................................................... ?at;}w
30. Child's spouse's parent .............................................................. ?asat
Notes:
1. The affinal addressive terms are mostly compounded of consanguineal roots, thereby
placing some restriction on the addressive expression of affinity-which is dissolved
into a virtual elder/younger distinction.
2. The terms ?aseew / ?ataay 'Elder same-sex sibling' andm;};}? / kooc 'Elder opposite-
sex sibling' (no. 4) are the sole examples of consanguineal terms drawing a distinction
between same-sex and opposite-sex sibling-a distinction that is otherwise only found
in the affinal terms.
26
3. Between females, ?a?oy (no. 24) is being replaced by ?anaay, which implies that
manaay, not manaay (2), is the structurally 'correct' reference term for 'Husband's
younger sister' and '(woman's) Elder brother's wife'. This helps to support the
distinction drawn in Table 1 between manaay (1) 'Wife's sister / (male's) Sister's
husband; Husband's brother / (female's) Brother's wife' (no. 22) and manaay (2)
'Husband's younger sister / Elder brother's wife' (no. 24). The same distinction is
drawn i.l the different pronoun-address forms, where manaay (1) is 'Singular' and
manaay (2) is 'Dual' (Table 6).
4. Several of these terms fall into derivational series formed of recognisable roots:
Root: lch ['Uunior) female'?]
balch 'a young woman'
Ich 'Wife' (reference)
Ich! 'Wife, Wife's sister' (address)
?alch 'Younger sister, Daughter,
Niece, Granddaughter, (female's)
Younger brother's wife' (address)
balch 'Parent of daughter' (teknonym)
?un-balch 'Child's spouse' (,they-with-
daughter', third-person address)
Root: m;};}? ['senior female'?]
Root: t;}W ['Uunior) male'?]
lit;}w 'a young man'
t;}W 'Husband' (reference)
t;}W
I
'Husband, Husband's brother'
(address)
?at;}w 'Younger brother, Son, Nephew,
Grandson, (male's) Younger sister's
husband' (direct address)
lit;}w 'Parent of son' (teknonym)
?un-lit;}w 'Child's spouse' ('they-with-
son', third-person address)
Root: kooc [' senior male' ?]
-------------r------------------------------
m;};}? 'parent's elder sister' (reference)
?am;};}?! 'parent's elder sister (address)
man;};}? 'husband's elder sister
(reference)
?un-m;};}?! 'husband's elder sister' ('they-
with-aunt', third-person address)
m;};}?! 'elder sister' (cross-sex address)
27
kooc 'parent's elder brother' (reference)
?akooc 'parent's elder brother' (address)
kanuujl [<*kanoojl < *kanooc] "wife's
elder brother' (reference)
?un-kooc! 'wife's elder brother' ('they-
with-uncle', third-person address)
kooc! 'elder brother' (cross-sex address)
These terms imply several kin-shunts, concerned primarily with relative-age and
generation distinctions:
?alsh = Daughter = Younger sister = Son's wife = (female's) Younger brother's wife
?at;)w = Son = Younger brother = Daughter's husband = (male's) Younger sister's
husband
Compare these with the following shunts that occur in the referential terminology:
cac;)? = Child's child = Younger sibling's child
msnsaaw = Child's spouse = Younger opposite-sex sibling's spouse
These all imply the rule ySb => Ch, the reciprocal of which, eSb => Pa, is not expressed
directly in the terminology. It is, however, hinted at in the following:
m;);)? = (man's) Elder sister (address) = Parent's elder sister (reference)
?un-m;);)? = Husband's elder sister (third-person address)
kooc = (woman's) Elder brother (address) = Parent's elder brother (reference)
?un-kooc = Wife's elder brother (third-person address)
As shown in Table 10, m;);)? and kooc are derivates of the Parent superclass.
While at first sight these shunts and syncretisms would seem to be contrary to the
sibling-conjunctiveness expressed by the personal naming and referential systems, it
is more likely that they should be considered as another expression of teknonymy (i.e.,
the dissolution of filiative links):
m;);)? (Elder sister, addressive) => m;);)? (Parent's elder sister)
?un-m;);)? (Husband's elder sister) => m;);)? (Parent's elder sister)
kooc (Elder brother, addressive) => kooc (Parent's elder brother, referential)
?un-kooc (Wife's elder brother, addressive) => kooc (Parent's elder brother,
referential)
28
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