Dwarves and Chinese

What do dwarves and the Chinese have in common?

Well, according to the book referenced in the last post, Linguistics for Students of Asian and African Languages, they both have very descriptive words for what, in English, would be long familial terms.

” Chinese has eight different terms for ’cousin’ based on gender (male vs. female), age (older vs. younger) and whether or not they have the same family name (paternal vs. maternal).”

So, “my cousin Mark” would turn into a word that meant “my older male cousin on my father’s side Mark.” But it wouldn’t be done with any more words than the first. Very interesting.

Note: While I have many paternal cousins and grew up knowing them, I only have two maternal cousins. One I knew was my cousin, but she did not until her father died. (How would you like that to be your intro to your dad?) The other I may have met at my grandmother’s funeral, but he is significantly younger than I am and I don’t really remember anything except “tall teenage boy with brown hair.”