part 8 G4BB: folks from U.N.C.L.E.


Folks from U.N.C.L.E.


8.1 Everyone in your Family Tree can be uniquely identified with just 2 terms…Father for lineal or direct ancestors…and Cousin for collateral relations. Lineal are those from whom you inherit genes…collateral are those with whom you share genes, but do not inherit them. Calling a Sibling a 0th Cousin…and applying such modifiers as Grand, Great, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Removed…you have a complete system of kinship nomenclature. But because of the importance of the sibling relationship, we have special names for those…Brother, Sister, Uncle, Aunt, Niece, Nephew.

8.2 And here we come to one of the few areas of disagreement…what to call your Father’s Uncle. Commonly, the term is “Great Uncle”…similarly, your Grandfather’s Uncle is your “Great Great Uncle,” and on up the tree. There are 2 problems with this. First, as you start to pile on the Greats, you see a disconnect: for example, your Great Great Grandfather’s Brother is your Great Great Great Uncle…that’s 2Gs versus 3Gs…but they’re of the same generation! This stuff is complicated enough…it would be better if the Greats were in sync. Therefore, many genealogists prefer the term “Grand Uncle,” in direct correspondence with Grandfather. This way, between the 2 Brothers of a generation in your direct line, the Greats will always match.

8.3 The best argument I have for this phraseology…apart from the clarity and consistency of it…is this: you gave a Grand Father, but no Great Father. So why should you have a Great Uncle?

8.4 The second problem with Great Uncle is that to him, according to common parlance, you are his Grand Nephew…Great vs. Grand! People mix and match. So to your Great Great Uncle you’d be a Great Grand Nephew…and again, the Greats don’t jibe. Now some people indeed use the term Great Nephew, to match Great Uncle, but it is far less common than Grand Nephew. So using Grand Uncle will correspond exactly with Grand Nephew, and there can be no confusion. Legally BTW, Great and Grand Uncle are considered the same thing, in case it pops up in somebody’s will or something. And yes, I have actually seen charts on the net that get it mixed up…I even found one where Great Uncle and Grand Uncle referred to 2 different generations! Murphy’s Law in action…

8.5 The key here is that a Father and an Uncle, as Siblings, are described with precisely the same modifiers as you go back generations…Grandfather & Grand Uncle, Great Grandfather and Great Grand Uncle, etc. And in fact, in some kinship systems, the term for Uncle is Second Father or Little Father, so close is the relation. Thus I will be using the term Grand Uncle for your Grandfather’s Brother, never Great Uncle.

8.6 Back in 4.1, when I introduced the Cheat Sheet, I purposely did so without charts, since it’s intended as a way to trace your various types of Cousins in your head, “paperless”! But it would be worthwhile to review it using a chart, and for that I have Chart 19, which is a version of the top half of Chart 1. One problem with Chart 1, as demonstrated by Chart 2, is that your direct line is on a diagonal, a little difficult to follow. Chart 19 uses one way to rectify that…by enlarging the squares representing your direct line so that they are all in a vertical row.

8.7 To review, where does your Xth Cousin come from? He’s descended from the Brother of the person in your direct line described by X words (using the Grand Father as 2 words trick.) We’ll try it with 5th Cousins…5 up > Brother > 5 down…using the patented Stolfistrator

8.8 And remember, it works if you split X up into A+B…for example, with 5th Cousin, we’ll do it with 3+2…3 up > 2nd Cousin > 3 down

8.9 So far, we’ve been using the Cheat Sheet to find the Brother of your direct ancestor from whom your Xth Cousin is descended. We do this instead of tracing your Xth Cousin to your shared direct ancestor, because you share that direct ancestor not only with your Xth Cousin, but with all Cousins less than X, down to your Siblings. Saying to your 5th Cousin “Our 3G Grandfathers are Brothers” is more specific and more meaningful than “We have the same 4G Grandfather.” But we haven’t mentioned how those relatives you hit going up and coming back down are related to you…and here again, the number of the Cousin is the key.


8.10 Referring to Chart 19…going up of course, they are your direct ancestors…Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, etc. Coming down is what I call the “Cousin Line”…and the secret is, each will add up to X for the Xth Cousin. As an example look at your 5th Cousin in Chart 19…his father is your 4th Cousin Once Removed (4+1=5)…his father is your 3rd Cousin Twice Removed (3+2=5)…next generation up, your 2nd Cousin 3 times Removed (2+3=5)…next, 1st Cousin 4 times Removed (1+4=5). And his Father is what? Based strictly on the formula, it would be 0th Cousin 5 times Removed (0+5=5). Well, 0th Cousin is Brother…and 5 times removed is the direct ancestor described with 5 words, in this case Great Great Great (3G) Grand Father. And his Father and his Brother’s Father is your 4G Grand Father. It all checks. And in case you forget which is the 5th Generation removed, just remember, your Father is once removed from you, and “Father” is one word. Grand Father, is 2 words, and is twice removed, etc. The Cheat Sheet is completely consistent, but then, that’s mathematics for you.


8.11 Second half today…the Coefficient of Relationship. It’s a number that tells you how closely 2 people are related. It can be expressed as a proper fraction or as a decimal. I like the fractions since they make it easier to compare one relationship to another. Notice I didn’t say “one person to another” because the CR is always between 2 people. It’s not as hard as it looks…starting with the fact that bottom of the fraction will always be a power of 2, nothing else: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. Here’s your basic chart, with everything you need…

8.12 Due to the mechanism of sexual reproduction, half your genes come from each parent. Image your Father as a deck of 52 playing cards with blue backs…he gives you 32 of them. Your Mother, with gold backs, also gives you 32. So obviously the CR between a child and parent is ½. And to follow the analogy a step further, of your blue-backed cards, about half are red suits, from your Father’s Father…and half are black suits, from your Father’s Mother. Same with your gold-backed cards.

8.13 Now your Brother gets the same type of half-and-half “deck” that you do, altho if you were to compare say your blue-backs with his, about half would be the same, half different. Half of a half is 1/4, which is the number of your Father’s genes you and your Brother share. And if you were Half Brothers…your Mothers were different people…that’s where your CR would stand: for Half Siblings it’s 1/4. But if your Mothers are the same person, you and your Brother share 1/4 of her genes too… so 1/4 + 1/4 = ½. In this sense, Full Siblings are Double Half Siblings.

8.14 In Chart 22, you’ll notice that the CR between you and your Cousins skips a power of 2…those missing fractions are your Half Cousins…Half 1st 1/16, Half 2nd 1/64, Half 3rd 1/256, etc. I didn’t put them on the chart because they are covered by the “half…Divide by 2” rule. Likewise Grandparents, Great Grandparents, and Removed Cousins. Double relationships are “times 2” when they are regular…for example Double First Cousins, that is, 1st Cousins on both sides of the family…and since the CR is cumulative, 1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4. Double 1st Cousins are are closely related as Half Siblings.

8.15 If what’s informally called a “Double” relationship, but is in fact irregular, as was shown in Chart 15…Full 1st Cousins on one side, Half 1st Cousins on the other…you again just add the 2 CRs. The CR for Abner and Zeke in Chart 15 is 1/8 + 1/16 = 3/16. The multiplying and dividing are used to find a single CR…one relationship between 2 individuals. If they are related in more than one way, the various CRs, once determined, are then added.

8.16 Chart 23 repeats Chart 19 with the CRs added as purple fractions. Notice that tracing a path according to the Cheat Sheet, going up, each CR is divided in half…same thing coming down what I called the Cousin Line. This is the rule in Chart 22 that says divided by 2 for each Removed. Don’t forget, when a fraction is divided by 2, the bottom part or denominator is multiplied by 2.

8.17 And it’s interesting to note that as you go up the Cousin Line, you’re more closely related to each older generation than the one below it. The reason is this: To produce offspring, each generation combines their genes…your family’s genes…with those of a completely different family, the spouse’s. So at each new generation going down the tree, you are only half as related to them as you were to the previous generation, thanks to that 50% input of new genes.

8.17 Notice also that as you go across one generation, each Cousin further out has a CR to you that is one-quarter of the previous Cousin…the “missing” power of 2 fraction is for the Half Xth Cousins. And from this observation we can deduce another important rule: The CR of 2 Sons, who are not Siblings, is one-quarter or 1/4th of the CR of their Fathers. For example, between your Father and your Uncle, the CR is ½, since they are Brothers. Their sons, you and your 1st Cousin, have a CR that is 1/4th of ½, or 1/8.

8.18 You might have also noticed that Son is not on Chart 22, altho Father is…likewise, Uncle, but not Nephew. That is because these are reciprocal relationships…the CR you have to your Uncle is the same as the CR he has to you, his Nephew.  What you’re called depends on which “side” of the chart you’re on, but the CR is the same.


8.19 Here’s your assignment for next week: Consider eighths. A CR of 1/8 is 1st Cousins…2/8 = 1/4 is Half Brothers…4/8 = ½ that’s Full Siblings…and we saw 3/8 in Chart 18, the simplest example of Enhanced Half Siblings, where Abner and Zeke had the same Mothers, and Fathers who were Brothers. For next week, sketch out a Parental Tree for a CR of 5/8and here’s a hint: in this case, it won’t be the CR between Abner and Zeke, but between Atlas and Zeus, who are cows…er, bulls. And don’t fret, I’ll be doing the same thing, and we can compare results! Till next time, don’t be a stranger…


Wicked Ballsy

Last week I showed you what Abner and Zeke looked like…so what about Alice and Zelda? Sure, why not…just be careful what you ask for, that’s all’s I’m sayin’…

Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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