Making Up Words

Let’s start with a basic fact:  If you are a mother or a father, you are a “Parent”.

My question today, dearest internets, is what are you if you’re an uncle or an aunt??

To my knowledge, there is no such encompasing title.  Thus far in linguistic history we uncles and aunts have (most cumbersomely) been known as “The brother or sister of the mother or father of the child.”

Friends, this simply will not do.  I have found a hole in the English language and by God I intend to plug it.  Let’s join forces and start brainstorming!  Once we’re all agreed on a good name, I’ll get Mr. Webster on the phone and work out the copyright details.

The best I can come up with on my own is “Siblent” (sibling + parent).  Can anybody think of a better one?

– J

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10 Responses to “Making Up Words”

  1. TexanNewYorker Says:

    Since the Aunt or Uncle in question is not the Sibling’s Parent, but rather the Parent’s Sibling, wouldn’t it make more sense to say Parling? 🙂

  2. popgun Says:

    Ah, but Siblent has such a sibilant sound to it…


  3. Oddnari Says:

    Hi J!

    Where I come from, “Uncle” and “Aunt” are pretty much all-encompassing words. That’s because in my languages – Hindi and Urdu (and most Indian and Pakistani languages and dialects) – there are different words for different uncles and aunts, ie, there are different words for mother’s sister (and sister’s husband), mother’s brother (and his wife), father’s sister (and her husband) and father’s brother (and his wife). In fact, when it’s father’s brother, there are different words used for his older brother and his younger brother, both. In English, you’d call all of them uncle or aunt. So, those names/titles are pretty much all-encompassing for South-Asians. (We also have different words for our maternal and paternal grandparents.. not the more general “grandfather” and “grandmother” 😀 )

  4. Ali Says:

    Oh, by the way. . .

    J, meet Mishty, the other part of the Erika/Ali/Mishty Trifecta. While she hasn’t *officially* taken of the planet yet, it’s simply a matter of time.

    Mishty, meet J. He’s kind of awesome, and claims that I cannot scare him. We’ll let him think that, for now.

    Everyone acquainted? Good!

    (I know you guys know *about* each other already, but manners must be observed, no?)

  5. Ali Says:

    Believe it or not, I’m at a complete loss for a pun to comment with. Er, a pun with which to comment.

    Having failed in my primary comedic capacity, I’m going to revert to a desperate attempt at intellectualism, and admit that I’ve spent time stuck at work to research the entymology of “uncle” and “aunt”–anyone surprised?–and can contribute this to the general argument. . .

    “Aunt”–Latin by way of Middle English, originally derived from “amita”–father’s sister. Boring, and also sounds kind of sissy, like an old lady with a lace collar and bad perfume.

    “Uncle”–also Latin, detoured through Old French, from “Avunculus”–mother’s brother or “little grandfather”. (Oh, how one loves the Roman Partriachal system!)

    Despite the very cool Proto-Indo-European roots of “uncle”, I think it actually looses to the disavowed Germanic “faedera”–“father’s brother”, because, honestly, it sounds more like “Vader”, which we all know will trump any form of kinship.

    (Pause for asthmatic breathing and ominous marching noises)

    That’s it, Faedera J–you’ve got me firmly stuck in Star Wars mode now, with nary a glass of wine in sight. This could lead to anger. . . anger leads to hate. . . hate leads to suffering, and that leads to (dramatic silence). . . THE DARK SIDE!

  6. Jean Says:

    Al, it’s time to get you another hobby.

    And while you’re at it, J, see what you and Mr. Webster can so about effecting a third person singular gender neutral pronoun. I’ve felt the draft from that particular gap for years, but the Websters aren’t returning my calls…

  7. J Says:

    TxNY – True, but a Parling sounds like a vegetable or something…

    Popgun – What can I say? I’m a sucker for homonyms

    Mishty – Glad to make your (virtual) acquaintance!! My first thought regarding your input is this: In your language, I would very quickly begin calling everyone George. That kind of made my head hurt lol.

    Ali – You just paralleled being an uncle with being Darth Vader. You win for life.

    Jean – I agree. Ali is having way too much fun. About your third person singular gender neutral pronoun… I’ll have to get back to you. There’s way too much 7th grade sentence diagramming in that request that I’ve forgotten.

    Thanks everyone!

  8. Jon Decker Says:

    Not to be left out… I make up words all the time. Who says it needs any bearing or etymological reference in actual reality. Knowing it will be most often used as a plural but could be used as singular (as in Moose/Moose), should sound like a relation, is most closely related to the already generic concept of “cousin”, I choose”Greatkin” as the future multi-level cousin’s parent’s word (it needed to covered non-genetic step parents of your cousins too).

  9. sford Says:

    I agree that the word does not have to have any resemblance or relation to the combination of words you are using. I vote for the word “restin”. Both an aunt an uncles should be know as a restin. It should be a category in any bio questionnaire which has “parent” as an option. I came to this word after combining many options.

  10. rhuffman Says:

    It seems a few very important pieces of information have been left out in all of the above discussion: the job description. A good aunt and/or uncle will posses a majority of the following traits:

    1. The Spoiler. It is this persons first and formost job to bring the child something everytime they see them. Before you disagree J, have you or have you not brought Taylor something everytime you have come to see her? Did our aunt not keep us in a contstant supply of the latest toy we were in to at the time? I beleive the answer to both would be “Yes.”

    2. The Enabler. It is also the job of this person to allow the child to get away with things the parents would normally frown upon, although nobody really knows why because they enjoyed them when they were kids too. Examples of this would be: watching slightly questionable movies (ie Spaceballs and anything with Earnest P. Woral), eating junk food whenever you want, staying up late, getting utterly filthy while playing outside (assuming any kids do that anymore), and having chocolate milk with every meal.

    3. The Teacher. One of the more important jobs of this person is to teach the child things you just can’t learn any where else. These would be things like how to get away with everything in list number 2 above, stupid songs that will anoy all of the other family members, famous quotes from not so popular movies, and how to wink.

    4. The Friend. This person is also commonly a “go to” person for all problems you just can’t talk about with anybody else, especially when one of the anybody elses is the problem.

    This is obviously not an all encompassing list, and your particular childhood may have differed. These are simply some characteristics that I have observed that make aunts and uncles quite special.

    Now, since we have a few definitions for this person, perhaps we can come a little closer to an all encompasing title.

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