as “uncle” and “aunt,” or it may be found in a transferred sense when we speak of “Brothers in Apollo,” or “Sisters in Christ.”
The explanation of this linguistic custom, which seems so strange to us, is simple if looked upon as a remnant and indication of those marriage institutions which the Rev. L. Fison has called “group marriage,” characterized by a number of men exercising conjugal rights over a number of women. The children of this group marriage would then rightly look upon each other as brothers and sisters although not born of the same mother, and would take all the men of the group for their fathers.
Although a number of authors, as, for instance, B. Westermarck in his “History of Human Marriage,” oppose the conclusions which others have drawn from the existence of group-relationship names, the best authorities on the Australian savages are agreed that the classificatory relationship names must be considered as survivals from the period of group marriages. And, according to Spencer and Gillen, a certain form of group marriage can be established as still existing to-day among the tribes of the Urabunna and the Dieri. Group marriage therefore preceded individual marriage among these races
- Second edition, 1902.
- “The Native Tribes of Central Australia,” London, 1899.