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What are kinship terms? Discuss the types of kinship terms.

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In every society people make use of special terms/names to differentiate between the different kins. 

E.g. terms like father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, etc. These terms in social anthropology are termed as kinship terminology. In other words, these kinship terminologies classify our relatives and their relationships. 

There are two types of kinship terminology systems that are used widely: 

• Descriptive 

• Classificatory. 

Descriptive terminology : It is used to specify or describe the person’s direct blood relationship with the person being addressed 

e.g. when I say my father, my mother, then I am talking about my biological parents and no one. else. Therefore, the two terms father and mother are descriptive terminologies. 

Some of its characteristic features are : 

1. These terms refer to blood relationship with the particular person. 

2. These terms keep the collateral lines clear and distinct from each other. 

Classificatory terminology : These are terms which are used to relate to more than one relations in a kinship group. Terms like aunt, uncle or brother, sister, etc. refer to persons who stand in different relationships 

e.g. when I say ‘uncle’ it may mean my father’s brother, mother’s brother or my father’s friend, or even my aunt’s husband. The term ‘uncle’ is, therefore, classificatory term. 

Some of the characteristic features are : 

1. Same term is used to designate more than one person of the kin relations. 

2. It is a method of dividing the kins according to the social relations and not always blood relations.

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