Sociology Index

Parallel Cousins vs Cross Cousins

Parallel Cousins, Cross Cousins, Unilineal Descent

A parallel cousin is a first cousin who is paternal uncle's child or maternal aunt's child, while a cross cousin is maternal uncle's child or paternal aunt's child. The distinction between cross cousins and parallel cousins is important in traditional societies.

Parallel cousins are not the subject of promoted marriage since a union in many cultures would fall under an incest taboo. In a patrilineage, parallel cousins are part of the subject's unilineage whereas cross cousins are not. In matrilineal societies, parallel cousins are considered to be related to the subject while cross cousins are not.

Parallel cousins, the children of one's father's brother or one's mother's sister, are treated as brothers and sisters. They are treated with the same avoidances as real brothers and sisters. Like true brothers and sisters, they are referred to with the terms tuakaqu (an older brother or sister) and taciqu ( a younger brother or sister).