What would I call my mother's cousin

Of Schwipp-brothers-in-law, aunts and grand cousins

From the daughter of the grandmother's cousin to the children of the second cousin: Relationships are often complicated and difficult to explain. It starts with the names: what exactly is a great cousin, what does the Schwipp-brother-in-law stand for, and what do the beautiful old terms aunt and uncle mean?

Today is the day: Henry turns 50 and he is celebrating in a big way. The whole circle of friends is invited: Philipp, Maren, Sibylle and I, plus a large number of relatives, uncles and aunts, cousins, most of whom I don't know. “This is Annegret,” says Henry, when a woman our age with brightly sparkling eyes joins us, “she's mine… uh, wait a minute… I think second cousin.” Annegret laughs: “What am I supposed to do be? A second-class cousin? "-" No, second degree! Our mothers are cousins, so we are cousins ​​and second cousins! ”-“ Then I would say she is your grandcousin, ”says Sibylle. Henry shakes his head: “The word grandcousin is not an official term. Great cousin and great cousin are colloquial and their meaning is not clearly defined. Some use it to describe relatives from the next older generation, for others they are relatives from the same generation, and still others call their nieces and nephews of the second degree. Great cousin and great cousin are a makeshift aid that can be used to explain practically everything that belongs to the family in the broadest sense without being able to state the exact degree of relationship. "That makes Sibylle think:" Then I have to go over my own clan thoroughly button up. Because there are some of them that I previously thought were my grand cousins. Maybe they're really something else: nieces or nephews… ”-“ Or maybe not really related to you at all, but only by marriage! ”Adds Henry. "Exactly!" Replies Sibylle and nods. “Joseph, for example, has always struck me as suspicious. Maybe he's not a cousin at all, just a brother-in-law! "

"Speaking of brother-in-law," says Henry, drawing our attention to a man with a round stomach and bald forehead: "This dashing young man is Annegret's wife." - "So your second-degree brother-in-law?" I ask. Henry has to think for a moment: “I'm not sure whether there are degrees for brothers-in-law. For me he's a cousin by marriage. ”-“ If you're not mistaken, ”says Sibylle, giggling. "Afterwards he's just a Schwipp-brother-in-law!" - "It's called a Schwipp-brother-in-law," Henry clarifies, "very sober, without Schwips." - "I know it," says Sibylle; "That should be just a joke!" Then she looks at me and asks: "Why is it called Schwippschwager?" - "That comes from the word Schwippe, the flexible end of a fishing rod or riding crop and means' look around, look different around<. A brother-in-law is the brother of a brother-in-law or a sister-in-law. ”-“ So practically the wagging tail of the family you married into, ”Henry adds with a grin.

Then he tugs at my sleeve and says, “It's time I introduced you to my aunt! She's a big fan of your books and really wants to get to know you! "Sibylle almost chokes:" I beg your pardon? Your mummy? Did you loot the Egyptian museum? "Henry replied:" Auntie is a beautiful old name for the mother's sister. "-" Mother's sister? Isn't that an aunt? ”-“ Right. But not just any one, but a particularly close one. The mother's sister is the aunt, and the mother's brother is uncle. "-" And the father's siblings? Don't they have any special names? ”Asks Sibylle. Henry shrugs his shoulders: “No, I don't think so. They are just uncles and aunts. ”-“ Did you know that we only took over the words uncle and aunt from French in the 18th century? ”I interject. "Before, the father's siblings were called Vetter und Basen." - "Oh yes, the beautiful word base," sighs Henry, "hardly anyone knows that nowadays either." "Exactly!" Says Henry; “How did my father always say so beautifully? You shouldn't annoy your cousin, because if the base gets angry, then something is wrong with the chemistry! "Sibylle turns back to me and asks:" I thought cousin and base are the same as cousin and cousin? Then how can it have been replaced by uncle and aunt? "-" In earlier times there was no name for cousins. As I said, cousin and cousin were brother and sister of the father. There was no name for their children. They just went along with them. ”-“ You even invited your ex-in-laws, ”I say, astonished. "Only for the sake of my parents," explains Henry, "because they always got along so brilliantly with their counter-in-law."OpponentI've really never heard of it. Does that really exist? "-" Of course! For the parents, the in-laws of their son or daughter are their opposites.“And because Sibylle doesn't seem convinced yet, I add:“ You can also call her fellow in-laws. That sounds a bit more unifying than Gegenenschweger. "

"I'm lucky that my family doesn't have even more complicated relationships like step-siblings from a second marriage or adoptive grand-nephews from a great-grandfather's branch," sighs Henry. "Or something like the half-sister of Julius Caesar's cousin by marriage," I add, referring to "Asterix". Later in the evening we meet Sibylle, clearly tipsy, on the arm of a man who is also no longer quite sober. “That's Max,” she explains, “and unfortunately I have no idea how he is related to you.” Henry says: “Max is my sister-in-law Johanna's ex-husband. So he's not related to me at all, but my brother-in-law. However, when I look at him like that, this time the term Schwipsschwager actually applies more. "