Differences in Background Information
The results so far demonstrate that gender is background information of the kinship terms. A second result is that the masculinity of father is more background information than the femininity of mother. In other words, father and mother are asymmetric with respect to background information. An interesting question is whether there are kinship terms that are more symmetric than father and mother. According to LYONS (1968), this is the case for brother and sister: “The fact that there is no superordinate term for the two complementaries brother and sister, is prima facie evidence that the opposition between the two terms is semantically more important than what they have in common” (p. 479). Consequently, the asymmetry found for father and mother should not be found for brother and sister. On the other hand, the results for items with son and daughter should exhibit the same asymmetry as those for father and mother.
KeywordsBackground Information Kinship Term Feature Male Male Person Feature Female
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