The primary focus of cultural anthropology is the investigation of cultural differences among people. Under this, we’ll examine kinship and the kinship patterns that indicate how people are related to one another by marriage or ancestry. Kinship is defined as the network of social relationships that play a substantial role in the lives of the majority of individuals in most societies (Trautman and Thomas R., 480). According to how that particular culture is socially organized, kinship patterns may vary amongst civilizations. In the majority of societies where names are passed down from generation to generation, they decide what their children will be named. The classification of kinship relationships varies between cultures, as do the vocabulary systems used to describe them. As (Bonvillian, 23) says, cross-cultural categories of kin terms can sometimes reveal basic similarities and differences in worldwide and experience. Terminology systems take different things into account; sex, generation, descent line, differences in relative age, and sex of linking relative (H.M Johnson, 124). According to my culture, children are named after their grandparents. The side to which the names will be from, i.e. from the mother’s side or the father’s side depends on the position in which one is born in the family, i.e. whether you are the first, second or third born and so forth. Suppose a firstborn child is a male, he will be given the name of his father’s father. If the second born child is also male, he will now be given the name of the mother’s father. However, if the second born is a female, she will be given the name of the father’s mother and if the second born is male, he will be given the name of his mother’s father. The Same case applies if the first born is a female. She will be given the name of the father’s mother. In my case, I’m the first born child in our home. Therefore I was given my father’s father name. My brother who is the second born was given the name of my mother’s father. The names must however not be the same as those of our grandparents. Children are only supposed to obtain the second name of the grandparents. The first one can change depending on the parents’ preference (Trautman and Thomas R., 480)
In my case, I was given all the two names of my grandparents while the third name is my father’s name as required by my culture. Even if I was female, I would still have my father’s name as my sun name. However, if I would have the two names from my father’s mother. Considering all these, it means that my children will have my parents’ names while their children will have my name and my future wife’s names. Some parents might decide not to follow these patterns though this is considered a taboo (Trautman and Thomas R., 480) The choosing of the names can be done by any of the parents or both of them can decide on which name they want to give to their child. Both my father and mother decided what I was to be named even though there wasn’t much to decide since considering my culture, my name had already been decided, given that my parents are very cultural.
The naming system describes above is used across my whole extended family. Therefore, I share the same exact name with some of my cousins, except the sun name. The spelling of the names is not important, as long as it does not change the pronunciation. For example, Kevin can still be Kelvin. The only place where spelling matters is with legal identification documents such as IDs and title deeds (H.M Johnson, 124). As for a nickname, I don’t have any. All my names are public and I have never changed any of my names since I have never had a reason to. In most societies, nicknames are often given in childhood. Most people with nicknames were given the names when they were kids and have grown being called the nickname, even though some of these nicknames are usually forgotten by the time one is into adulthood.
In conclusion, after reading all the above, it is clear that I am adequately informed on the kinship terminology of my culture. It is important to clearly understand one’s own kinship patterns in order to pass it to the next generation and keep his/her own culture alive. This is also important to know since kinship assigns the guidelines for interactions between persons, e.g. the proper role relationship between father and daughter, brother and sister. Kinship also determines who can marry who and where some marital relationships are a taboo in different cultures. It determines family line relationships and also helps to determine the right of the members in all religious practices from birth to death. Lastly, in other cultures, it determines the manner in which property is shared or passed on.
Bonvillian, Nancy. Cultural Anthropology, 2nd edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. 2010.
Harris, Marvin & Oran Johnson. Cultural Anthropology, 7th edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. 2007.
Trautmann& Thomas R. Lewis Henry Morgan and the invention of kinship. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. 480-481.