[LMB] Ivan's Aunties

beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com
Thu May 17 22:18:02 BST 2012

On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM, t_neill t_neill <t_neill at hotmail.com>wrote:
> All these people who call their older cousins and friends of their
> parents
> "Aunt" and "Uncle"--Do those older adults call the youngsters "Neice"
> and
> "Nephew"?  Or, when speaking to another unrelated adults say "I'm John's
> Aunt"?
> I'm very familiar with the phenomenon of calling older adults Aunt and
> Uncle.  It's the other way that I find not familiar.

I have an honorary aunt who does.  She's a friend of the family, and
refers to herself as "Auntie C___," as do my parents when talking to us
kids.  Though they do on occasion clarify to outsiders that no, she isn't
actually any sort of blood relation.  If she was related by blood but not
actually an aunt (say, a cousin), I doubt they'd bother.

(She and my mom get mistaken for sisters--or for one another--all the
time.  I do not get it, as they don't look at all alike.  They are white
women with brown hair and eyes, and there the similarity ends.  One is
short and well-padded, with an excellent bosom and curly/wavy hair, and
is, er, somewhat high-maintenance.  The other is tall and skinny, with
very little bosom and straight hair, and very laid back.  And yet, growing
up, many people who knew them both regularly confused one for the other. 
They would compliment Auntie C___ for things her daughter (meaning me!)
did, and compliment Mom for things her daughter (meaning AC's daughter)
did.  And AC and I look even less alike than our mothers do.)

Anyway, this is largely a cultural thing.  Different cultures do it
differently, and although (barring AC) this sort of thing is somewhat
alien to my culture, I have no difficulty believing it would be quite
common in another culture, particularly one as family-driven as Barrayar. 
Me, I come from the Pacific Northwest, which is very laid-back and
non-hierarchial.  Even as a child, I was used to calling adults by their
first name without any titles at all.  In AC's case, the honorary title is
largely because a) the culture *she* was raised in is more formal about
such things and b) my parents pretty much adopted her after a tragedy, and
took care of her and supported her when she needed it, such that she
really is part of our family now, blood or not, and this is a way of
emphasizing it.  You can't really say "oh, this is the pattern in general
for this culture, therefore this is what all members of this culture do." 
There's a lot more variation than that.

Beatrice Otter

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