Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Understanding the Family Tree

As an amateur historian, one of the things in which I have a very great interest is the history of my own family. I've been carrying on a low-level project for some years, building on the work done by my cousin Joanne, to assemble as much information as possible about the sometimes bizarre but always fascinating Bilbo Family Tree.

Genealogy is a very interesting topic, and one of the most interesting things to me - as a linguist with an interest in semantics - is the collection of terms with which we define the degrees of our relations. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles are pretty straightforward ... but what about nieces and nephews and great aunts* and second cousins and second cousins twice removed and so on? How do you keep them all straight?

As it happens, I recently ran across a really cool chart that helps to explain all those family relationships ... click it to embiggen it:

Neat, eh? And here I thought that "twice removed" meant "evicted two times for non-payment of rent." Of course, in my family that might actually be the case.

Have a good day. Learn about your own family history.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* Why do they call them "great" aunts? Did they do something special? Are they unusually large? Discuss.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

A nice chart. I could never understand those "removed" relations before.

Gonzo Dave said...

Where's the footnote for the "great aunts*" asterisk? Those are usually the best hidden gems you have!

Mike said...

This is the third different chart I've seen explaining the 'removeds'. Life just gets more confusing.

Bilbo said...

Dave - I forgot the footnote, but have added it back in. Nice catch!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I'm afraid to look too closely at my family tree. I might find a horse thief at the end of a rope on it!

KathyA said...

Genealogy is indeed very interesting and I love reading how others have made their discoveries.
I will have to enjoy it vicariously, however, as our family is only two generations in this country and when we try to discover more in Italy, we hit a stone wall.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Bill, been trying to do this myself and struggling. ancestry.com has a lot of info but spelling is incorrect for one. I have been playing detective and it's been difficult. All roads begin in Italy that is the only certainty. There was also a lot of shame on my fathers side so we couldn't always get information. My cousin and I have been working on this for awhile. It may never be completed.