Lesson 4 – Kinship and Relations
In this lesson we will go over some Adnyamathanha words to talk about ngankini or relations. Adnyamathanha has specific names to refer to specific people in your life. It is important you know who is related to whom so that you know how to respectfully talk to everyone.
Adnyamathanha society is divided into two parts, called moieties. These moieties are Mathari and Ararru. Every person in Adnyamathanha society has a moiety. The moiety is passed down from mother to child, so you’d be in the same moiety as your mother, and her mother. Your father, by law, would be the opposite moiety to your mother – and thus opposite to you.
A person’s moiety determines all important aspects of their lives, including who they can marry, the knowledge they can possess and how they interact with others in society. Adnyamathanha moiety and kinship also includes ancestors and people who have passed away.
Adnyamathanha recognises two generations level. Firstly, ego’s generation (who we call Ngai or I) together with his/her grandparents and grandchildren. Secondly, his/her parents and children.
The kinship system of Adnyamathanha is very complex, and as such this is only the briefest of summaries for the language learner. Adnyamathanha community looking for more information on the topic are encouraged to speak with an Adnyamathanha elder.
man's child (son/daughter)
woman's child (son/daughter)
younger brother/younger sister
Note: you would call your parallel cousins your ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’. This is explained more below.
Uncle, aunt and cousins
aunt, mother's younger sister
aunt, mother's older sister
uncle, mother’s brother
uncle, father's younger brother
uncle, father's older brother
girlfriend or boyfriend, friend
(potential) husband. Marriage appropriate cross cousin
(potential) wife. Marriage appropriate cross cousin
wife’s mother (mother-in-law)
husband's mother (mother-in-law)
husband’s father (father-in-law)
wife's brother (brother-in-law)
husband’s sister (sister-in-law)
Note: Kinship terms in Adnyamathanha are often reversible, so a grandmother and her grandchildren would use adnyini which means grandmother and a father-in-law and his son-in-law would both call each other yaru.
Click this link to download an example kinship chart for both the Ararru and Mathari moieties. You might like to print these out and keep them somewhere handy.
Note: the coloured sets mark generation lines, e.g. ngai/I and their grandparents and grandchildren are the same generation and marked by orange. Ngai/I are a different generation to their children and own parents, and are marked by green.
Note: your parallel cousins are the same moiety and generation as you, e.g. your father’s brother’s children or your mother’s sisters’ children. These cousins are unmarriageable.
Your cross cousins are a different moiety to you, e.g. your father’s sisters’ children or your mother’s brother’s children. You are able to marry these cousins.
Talking about yourself and your family
These two questions could be used when you are at a family gathering and want to ask questions about family.
Where is my father?
Who is that?
You can answer this by saying the following.
Ngatyu means my and inhaadi means there.
Adnyini ngatyu inhaadi.
That there is my grandmother.
Other words to talk about family