Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cousins, degrees and removals

So here we have two sittin' on the floor babies, both of whom are my grand nephews. The musician hanging out between sessions is Calvin, son of Josh. The gambler playing solitaire is Emerson, sometimes known as Li'l E.

So what are they to each other? The answer is second cousins.

Lemme 'splain.

The common ancestor for these two little guys is three generations up, my parents. The first generation are siblings, the second generation whose closest relation is sharing a grandparent are first cousins, the third generation whose closest relation is sharing a great grandparent are second cousins.

So what's a first cousin once removed?

Removal deals with not being at the same generational level. The father of Calvin is Josh, the mother of Emerson is Nefera. Josh and Nefera are first cousins, Josh and Emerson are first cousins once removed, as are Nefera and Calvin. So the "once removed" relation is not symmetrical, but no special word exists to show this. The simplest non-symmetrical relation when dealing with generations but not direct ancestry is uncle (or aunt) to nephew (or niece). Here the words show which person is of the generation closer to the common ancestor.

Of course, a favorite family joke is much simpler and needs no 'splainin'.

He's my second cousin twice removed. Once for loitering, and once for vagrancy.


Anonymous said...

Cute babies. . . now you wanna splain it to us one more time?

Karla said...

But bwahahahahahahah - I'm the great aunt to both, which means I win, right?

I thought a once removed cousin was one you were related to by marriage. I didn't realize it was a cross generational hop, skip and jump. Thanks for the splain!

Matty Boy said...

Okay zoey, here's the idea. Let's say our closest ancestor is my great grandfather (3 generations back), who is your great-great-great grandfather (5 generations back).

Because I'm closest at 3 generations that makes us second cousins (1 generation = siblings, 2 generation = first cousins, etc.) Because 5-3=2, this makes us twice removed.

My grandkids and you would be at the same level, five generations away from a common ancestor. Y'all would be fourth cousins. You could be kissin' cousins, and I guess that would make it alright. (Actually, fourth cousins can marry under any legal system.)

Anonymous said...

Dear Matthew, it's "my second cousin twice removed, once for loitering, once for vagrancy"