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Leanan

sulken said: I can't speak for all human languages, but I got the impression the more patriarchalic (or better clan-centered) a society is (or used to be) the more elaborate the family terms are. In Chinese, the word for the wife of the elder brother of the father can't be used to address the wife of the elder brother of the mother. However, I ( a Westener) address most of my outer familiy members as "aunt" or "uncle".
I don't think it's a matter of being 'patriarchal' or 'clan centered'. In Finnish we have a different word for 'mother's brother' and 'father's brother', different versions of 'niece' and 'nephew' depending if it is the child of a male or a female sibling, and variations of 'brother-in-law' depending if it's 'sister's husband', 'husband's brother' or 'wife's brother'...