G4BB part 12: Tabulation


12.1 Working out genealogies and studying kinship systems can be greatly simplified by using systems of numerical notation. And there are a ton out there…the NGSQ, Henry, Register, d’Aboville, de Villiers/Pama, and Ahnentafel/Sosa-Stradonitz Numbering Systems each have their champions. Whichever you choose, they really are a practical necessity.

12.2 Because as pleasant to look at and easy to follow as traditional “trees” may be, they become pretty unwieldily once you really get going. As an example of how this problem can be solved, here are the 2 excerpts I used last week to confirm that John and Abigail Adams were indeed 3rd Cousins. The literally thousands of individuals are grouped by surnames, then numbered sequentially along the far left. Offspring are also numbered within a nuclear family unit, and generations are indicated by succeeding indentations or “paragraphs.” These are from Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts by Henry Bond, published in 1855, pages 91 and 109. It’s available on Google Books.

12.3 And when analyzing actual kinship systems, various sets of abbreviations can be used. Here’s an example I found last week researched the French terms for In-Laws…thank goodness the book I found on-line was in English!

12.4 About 3 years ago, I wished for an easier way to refer to such relationships as Half Third Cousins on Father’s side and Double 2nd Cousins on Mother’s side. So I invented an un-named system, which I have tweaked a bit and now call Stolf Tabulation, or S-tab for short. Chart 37 has the basic ingredients…

12.5 Mind you, if ever something could be called a “work-in-progress,” this is it. I haven’t come up with a way to represent cross generational relationships, and those resulting from in-breeding. Further, I’ve yet to work out the specific rules for 2 related individuals marrying 2 other related individuals, the thing that gives rise to Double Cousins, etc., altho some are rather obvious just by inspection. But this is a start, and I’ll briefly explain how S-tabs work.  BTW, the relationship I mentioned in 12.4 would be encoded

12.6 Far and away the most important thing to understand is that an S-tab represents a relationship between 2 people. A single number does not represent a single person, but a single relationship. Cousins are numbered as usual, with Siblings being Zero. Half-relations are underlined. A slashed 0 means 2 people are unrelated. On an Apple keyboard, that’s option-o…for Windows, alt-0248 on the keypad.

12.7 When 2 people are related in more than one way, a backwards slash must be used. This is because, for example, 22 (Double 2nd Cousins) is ambiguous: it could mean 2\2 (Bilineal) or 22\ø (Unilineal). Additionally, there is no such relationship as 11 or  11\ø, since by definition Double 1st Cousins are Bilineal, that is, both the Mothers’ and Fathers’ sides are involved…so it must be 1\1. Below, the example in 12.4 is shown, along with the union (+) from which it results.

This reads as follows: 2 men who are Half 2nd Cousins…marry 2 women who are Double 1st Cousins…the resulting offspring are Half 3rd Cousins on their Fathers’ side…and Unilineal Double 2nd Cousins on their Mothers’ side. It might be helpful at this point to compare:

12.8 And for now, that’s pretty much it. To show S-tabs in action, I’ve reproduced the 3 types of Double 3rd Cousins from Chart 17 back in G4BB Part 7, and show the union (+) that brings each of them about.

12.9 To keep the notation as simple as possible, I’ve decided that a single S-tab can have only one paternal/maternal backwards slash \. Now the 3 S-tabs for the 3 types of Double 3rd Cousins may look daunting, but they encode some valuable information.

12.10 In Chart 38a, 3\3 means Abner and Zeke have Great Grandparents who are Siblings on their Fathers’ side, and the same thing on their Mothers’ side…thus they have Fathers who are Single 2nd Cousins, and Mothers who are also Single 2nd Cousins. The resulting S-tab represents where the Double Crossover occurs (see 7.9)…at the Parents’ generation: a\z.

12.11 In Chart 38b, 33\ø means Abner and Zeke are not related at all thru their Mothers. It indicates the Double Crossover occurs at the Grandparents’ generation: ab\yz. Abner and Zeke’s Fathers are Bilineal Double 2nd Cousins. And their Grandparents are 2 sets of Single 1st Cousins.


12.12 Finally, in Chart 38c, we come to 33øø\ø. Here the Double Crossover occurs with the Great Grandparents: abcd\wxyz, which is why all the extra ø’s. Again, Abner and Zeke are not related thru their Mothers. Their Fathers are Unilineal Double 2nd Cousins. And their Grandfathers are 1 set of Double 1st Cousins.

12.13 And if you think the analysis in 12.10 thru 12.12 was easy for yours truly, think again! But as they say, the teacher also learns. Now let’s check the mailbag…


12.14  Dear Stolf: I learned a new word…”Avuncular,” meaning like an Uncle, presumably a benevolent one. Is there a similar word pertaining to Aunts? …from Hazel in Hilo.


12.15 You know, there’s an old Spanish proverb, He to whom God gives no Sons, the Devil gives Nephews. Always seemed to have a slightly sinister ring to it, but I tend to hope for the best. At any rate, the answer to your question is yes. The word you want….altho used even less frequently than Avuncular…is Materteral…without an “n”…not Materternal. These derive from the Latin words for your Mother’s Brother and Sister, Avunculus and Matertera. Here are their basic kinship terms (not my chart…I wouldn’t’ve made it so dark.) You will recognize the origins of Paternal, Maternal, Fraternity, and Sorority.

12.16 Dear Stolf: What do the Dutch call what we call a “Dutch Uncle”? …from Cookie in Costa Rica.

12.17 Ah, one of my favorites…I call it the IMBY game…In My Back Yard, the opposite of NIMBY or Not, etc. Inspired by the comic who quipped: I was in England and asked for an English muffin…they never heard of ’em! If only he’d asked for a crumpet, that would have sorted him right out. French Fries in France are pommes frites…or fried apples…the potato is the “earth-apple” or pomme de terre. And French Toast is pain perdu, literally “lost bread,” but meant in the sense of “leftover.” In Canada, Canadian bacon is back bacon. The Danes call a Danish pastry Wienerbrød…or Viennese bread, where it’s supposed to have originated…and that connection to Vienna is used in many other languages too.

12.18 Now don’t for a minute think Americans are immune. In French, German, Italian, Danish, Polish, and many other European tongues, an “American Uncle” has various shades of meaning…from unknown benefactor or “rich uncle”…in the sense of a deus ex machina who dies and leave you an unexpected fortune…to “sugar daddy”…to simply an older man who befriends and mentors those his junior. It is believed derived from the fact that many European families had a member, usually a man, who emigrated to America, and supposedly got filthy rich in no time.

12.19 But it’s in the 3rd sense that Oncle d’Amérique resembles the English term “Dutch Uncle,” someone who advises you with necessary frankness, the opposite of a “real” Uncle who would tend to indulge you, avuncularly, if you will. As with so much of language, the origins are unknown. It seems likely the use of “Dutch” dates back to when the English and Dutch were not the best of friends, the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 1600s, extending to the rival colonies in the New World. Some of the coinages have become so ingrained that we don’t think of them as pejorative…”Dutch treat” and “Double Dutch” for example. Others betray the animosity, like “Dutch Courage” for booze-induced bravado, and being “in Dutch” for “in trouble.” But there are other supposed origins for the term “Dutch Uncle”…no one is certain.

12.20 To answer your question, I can find no equivalent term used in the Netherlands. But there may well be. Readers, help us out? But in researching your question, I experienced a nice touch of serendipity.

12.21 And that was finding the phrase “Welsh Uncle”…and correspondingly, “Welsh Aunt.” This refers to a Parent’s 1st Cousin, the dreaded 1st Cousin Once Removed. From what I can gather, citations date only back to the 1700s. Several British magazine articles I found from the late 1800s stated the term was very rare, but opined that it would be a useful one if generally adopted. Again, its origins are shrouded in mystery…there’s the temptation to think it means “not a real Uncle” in the same way Welsh Rarebit, originally Welsh Rabbit, poked fun at cheese on toast as the best the Welsh could do for meat. But even there, there is some doubt, as the Welsh traditionally love baked cheese dishes, so presumably wouldn’t have minded.

12.22 Next week, some kinship gymnastics to keep the old noodle limber, and more from the mailbag. Till then, say uncle…

Wicked Ballsy

Glancing over Don Rickles quotes, I found this: He’s Perry Como’s kid by another marriage. And I laughed, but I’m not sure why, since it makes sense. The “he” in question could be a product of “serial marriages” as they call them today, or simply a step-son. Was there something about Perry Como I’m not remembering? Probably it’s just funny because I imagine Rickles saying it, and just about anything he said was funny…door-knob!…

Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

shameless plugs from Uncle Plug and Aunt Shameless…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (Stolf’s Blog)

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com

Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…

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