Any system of organizing people who are relatives into different kinds of groups, be they descent-based or ego-oriented, is bound to have an important effect upon the ways in which relatives are labeled in any given society.  Kinship terminology is affected by, and adjusts to, the kinds of kinship groups which exist in a society. There are, also other factors at work as well in each system of kinship terminology that help differentiate one kin from another.  These factors may be sex, generational differences, or genealogical differences.

Two important tasks are fulfilled by kinship terminology. Ther first is they classify particular kinds of persons into single specific categories and secondly, they separate different kinds of persons into distinct categories.

Six different systems of kinship terminology result from the application of the above principles:  Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Omaha, Crow, and Descriptive systems. They are identified according to the way cousins are classified.







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