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Kinship Diagram, from the perspective of male ego


M = Mother, F = Father, B=brother, Z = Sister, S = Son, D = Daughter, C = Child, P = Spouse/Partner

     MB = mother's brother, FFZSC = father's father's sister's son's child, ...

f = female, m = male

     fC = female's child, mZC = male's sister's child, ...

e = elder, y = younger

     eB = older brother, MeZ = mother's elder sister, ...

Navigating kin terms

Kin terms are terms that we use to address and refer to people we are related to. For example, you call your mother 'mum' and your grandfather 'grandpa' or 'pop' rather than address them by their given name. Kin terms are integral to effective communication in Bininj communities and as such Bininj Kunwok has a much richer system than English. Fortunately for us, it is fairly predictable.

We use anthropological notation to help describe the kin (see 'Key' above). Your grandmothers, for example, are your MM and your FM. In English, we don't distinguish between your maternal grandmother (MM) and your paternal grandmother (FM), but in Bininj culture, they do: kakkak (MM) and makkah (FM).

Bininj also distinguish between older and younger siblings, and so to indicate this, we use 'e' for elder and 'y' for younger, thus: yB = younger brother and eZ = elder sister.

Another feature of Bininj kin terms, and one that is prevalent across Aboriginal Australia, is that your mother's sisters are also your mothers (M, MZ = karrang). Likewise, your father's brothers are your fathers (F, FB = ngabba). Sometimes you might hear people talk about their youngest mother or their oldest father, in these cases they are referring to their mother's youngest sister (MyZ) and their father's oldest brother (FeB) respectively. A consequence of this is that the children of your other mothers and other fathers are therefore your siblings. So, your MZC and your FBC are your siblings, and you address them as brother/sister rather than cousin, as in the Anglophone kin system.

Your uncle and aunty meanwhile, are your parent's opposite-sex sibling, so your MB (ngadjadj) and your FZ (berluh) respectively. Their children are therefore your cousins (MBC and FZC) and you will call each other kanjok. This is one of several reciprocal terms in Bininj Kunwok; grandparent terms (kakkak, mamamh, makkah, mawah) are also used for grandchildren, so we may refer to these simply as 'grandkin'.

Finally, some terms differ depending on whether you identify as male or female. The word for brother, for example, is different for men than it is for women. The table below will help you decide which is the most appropriate kin term for you to use.