My brother called tonight with a “question for Grading Girl.” The conversation began like this:
Bro: What do you call your mother and father?
Bro: What do you call your grandmother and grandfather?
Bro: What do you call your brother and sister?
Bro: What do you call your aunt and uncle?
GG: That is a good question!!!
Why did he call with such a question, you ask? First, he too was an English major as an undergraduate and he has as much curiosity with our crazy language as I do (sometimes more!). Second, he is expecting his first child in less than a month (a daughter!!) and I am, thus, about to become a very proud first-time aunt!! 🙂
We have a general term for parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins but we don’t have a general term for aunts and uncles. Why not?! Is this something that once was a part of the English language but, for whatever reason, evolved to extinction. Aunts and uncles are a significant relation; why don’t they have a word to reference them? Come to think of it . . . we don’t have a general term for nieces and nephews either. Do other languages have such a term? I took seven years of French and, as far as I remember, they have a separate name for aunt (tante) and uncle (oncle) but no general references. Is there another language that has a general, gender-neutral term?
Hmmm . . . . we aunts and uncles along with nieces and nephews must unite! Perhaps we can come up with a new word and hope it catches on. What about ancles for aunts and uncles and niflings for nieces and nephews? I do enjoy making up words, after all!! See my Words of Whimsy posts for proof of that.