[rdfweb-dev] Relationship Schema Updated

Ian Davis iand at internetalchemy.org
Fri Mar 19 09:38:06 UTC 2004

Hi Michael,

> Anthropologists (when they're describing a society that needs the
> distinctions) divide kin into three "natures": Consaguinal kin
> (biological relations), Affinal kin (marriage relations), and Fictive
> kins (everything else, which would include things like adoptive parents
> and godparents). If I create an RDF vocabulary that uses this axis in
> addition to the eight-relationship axis, I deal with the societal
> relationship and the biological relationship in a usable manner: The
> hypothetical FOAF-friendly PIM has *two* small dropdown boxes -- one
> with the eight relationships, and another with the three "natures"
> (abeit it with more user-friendly titles than "affinal"). It's usable,
> and it produces more explicit descriptions.
I think you are yourself exhibiting a bias here. When I express my
relationship to another person I don't want to think about your three
groupings - those are an artifact of anthropological analysis. I care
about the actual relationship I have. Speaking from an English
culture, when I describe my mother's sister's husband's child from a
previous marriage I would probably choose to call that person a
cousin. Other cultures will have specific terminology for that
relationship or perhaps not consider it a significant relationship.

However you are suggesting that every culture must fit their
relationships into combinations of your western anthropologist eight
relationships plus three natures. Please help me categorise the
relationship stated above by the axes suggested.

A better approach is to provide richer terms that can be expressed in
the specific scheme that you want to use. This needs all the terms
from your 8 relationships and 3 natures plus composite terms which
will include cultural bias. These latter terms are the ones that will
be selected by any non-anthropologist when describing their


More information about the foaf-dev mailing list