Hawaiian kinship system

In my linguistic classes in college we studied different kinship systems, and one was called the Hawaiian kinship system (or generational kinship system). In this system generation and gender distinctions are made, but no distinctions are made in degrees of consanguinity. So, all the females of the mother’s generation are called mother, all the males of the father’s generation are called father, all the male cousins are referred to as brother, and all the female cousins as sister.

I was surprised to see words for uncle and aunt come up in the ‘ohana lessons here. Does anyone know if these words are borrowed from English? "Ankala" does sound suspiciously similar to uncle.


September 12, 2019


Das ist interesant zu wissen, aber ich weiß nicht.

September 12, 2019


September 12, 2019

ʻAe, you are correct. Like in many post-missionary / european contact cultures, the kinship and counting systems were altered to coincide with the respective missionary religious or colonizer cultural system. Generational distinction is the most important to the Hawaiian kinship system. A friend of your parents, for example, who is within their generation would be referred to as the "makua" generation, even if there is no blood relationship. This does not mean that there are no words to distinguish between these relations, or amongs different branches within the family (and cousins). There definitely are, but at the core cultural standpoint, the levels are the same and are regarded in this way, without necessarily needing extra distinction.

ʻAnakē and ʻAnakala are both loan words from enlgish to mean "Aunty" and "Uncle" to fit within the Enlgish system.

Thank you for contributing this! Many Native Hawaiianʻs disagree with teaching the "introduced" family system words when covering kinship in ʻŌlelo hawaiʻi.

September 13, 2019
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