T Puzzle: Whoa--I Know Genealogy!

by Norvin Richards

There are 8 kinds of people, whose possible relations to each other can be diagrammed like so:

Here the = signs represent possible marriages, the double-headed arrows are patrilines, and the single-headed arrows are matrilines. So, for example, someone of kind 1 is supposed to marry someone of kind 2. If the 1 is a man and the 2 is a woman, then their children are 3s; if the 1 is a woman and the 2 is a man, their children are 5s. The patrilines and the matrilines are redundant if people marry properly; a 1 man and a 2 woman have 3 children because the patriline from 1, and also the matriline from 2, point to 3. The patrilines are double-headed because not only are a 1 man's children 3s, but a 3 man's children are 1s. On the other hand, a 2 woman's children are 3s, but a 3 woman's children are 7s (and a 7 woman's children are 6s, and a 6 woman's children are 2s).

The kinship terms have three components. One tells how the types are related to each other; that is, what combinations of marriages, patrilines, and matrilines you'd have to move along in the diagram above to connect the two people. From the point of view of a 1, these components are as follows:

  1. kpamic
  2. lugoman
  3. gbimukh
  4. degbuth
  5. mnegil
  6. migedogh
  7. tsivisty
  8. ngemedlel
Another component of the kinship terms carries information about the age relation between the two people. For a statement like "A is B's X", the kinship term X will contain an infix -ak-, attached before the first vowel of the word, if A is in a younger generation than B; if A is in an older generation than B, X will show reduplication of the consonant(s) preceding the first vowel, followed by a vowel i. If A and B are in the same generation, there's no morpheme in this slot.

Finally, there's an indicator of the gender of the person referred to by the kinship term. This is a floating w for men or y for women, which attaches to the last consonant other than d, t, or l that precedes a vowel (equivalently for these words, it attaches to the first consonant in the second syllable, prior to the reduplication/infixation described above).

The answers to the questions at the end of the puzzle are:

The names are anagrams of numbers; if you take the letters indicated by these numbers from the kinship term, they spell "SYLLABIC L GOES TO M".

The family tree described in the problem is below (I've put men's names in boldface and underlined women's names; = represents marriage, again, and the lines connect sets of siblings with their parents in hopefully intuitive ways):