Have you ever noticed that there are several ways to write how two people are related? The easiest and most direct relationship to name is mother or father but as we go further back relationships become more complicated -- sometimes unclear and/or unspecific. Some ways lack clarity; other ways may be more clear but are down-right complicated.
Here are some examples of various ways to say the same relationship:
My grandfather is
> my mother's father
> my father's father
This relationship is easy to clarify by indicating maternal or paternal grandfather.
My maternal great-grandmother (of which I have two) is
> my mother's maternal grandmother
> my mother's paternal grandmother
> my maternal grandmother's mother
> my maternal grandfather's mother
My brother-in-law can be
> my husband's brother
> my sister's husband
> my husband's sister's husband
My paternal great-grandfather is
> my father's paternal grandfather
> my father's maternal grandfather
My grandaunt (which I always wrongly called a great aunt) is
> my mother's aunt (on her mother's or father's side)
> my father's aunt (on his mother's or father's side)
> my grandmother's sister
> my grandfather's sister
> my mother's mother's sister
> my father's mother's sister
By the time one begins talking about great granduncle there's trouble in store for describing that relationship easily. Not even the simple maternal or paternal adjective helps since a great granduncle is the son of one's great-great-grandparents, of which there are four couples. Maternal or paternal on the parents' side; then maternal or paternal on the great-grandparents' side? Clearly, it's fuzzy territory when trying to be clear.
I sometimes find it challenging to concisely state a relationship for a blog post. I believe I have relatives who read my posts and may go away scratching their heads in a state of uncertainty, wondering exactly how they are related to the ancestor they just read about.
Can you think of other confusing relationships that are difficult to write clearly? Do you have a system for choosing how you write relationships in your blog posts?
Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.