The Generative Logic of Dravidian Language Terminologies
Mathematical Anthropology and Cultural Theory: An International Journal, Vol. 3, No. 7, 2010
28 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2015
Date Written: August 2010
Classificatory (“bifurcate merging”) terminologies with a ‘cross-cousin’ marriage rule are sometimes grouped together as Dravidian terminologies despite significant structural differences among the terminologies so classified. For example, the Kariera terminology has four ‘grandparent’ and ‘grandchild’ terms and does not have an older/younger distinction for ‘cross-cousin’ terms. In contrast, Dravidian language terminologies of India typically have two ‘grandparent’ and ‘grandchild’ terms and make an older/younger distinction for cross-cousin terms. These differences are not superficial and relate both to substantive differences in social organization for the societies in question and the “meaning” of ‘cross-cousin’ marriage. In this paper I develop the generative logic for the used by the Nanjilnattu Vellalar, a Tamil-speaking group in southern India. This logic underlies the structural features of the Dravidian terminologies such as the parallel/cross distinction used to characterize marriages in societies with Dravidian terminologies. The generative logic structurally distinguishes Dravidian language terminologies from other, superficially similar terminologies such as the Kariera terminology.
Keywords: Dravidian, kinship, structure
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