Why do we are saying first cousin? | EUROtoday

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PFor some, cousins ​​can flip right into a headache, when your aunt introduces you to Roger, your “first cousin, second cousin, second cousin”. According to an previous expression, we name the sort of distant family members the “fashionable cousins ​​of Brittany”.

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But your cousin Roger will not be Breton and even much less of Germanic origin. The expression has nothing to do with geography. It's a query of etymology. Indeed, ” germanus ”, in Latin, means “natural” or “close relative”, and “ germen » refers to the “germ” with the idea of ​​“offspring” or “same blood”. Moreover, the Latin root gave birth, in Spanish, to “ hermano ” And ” hermana ”, which mean “brother” and “sister”.

“The king is not his cousin”

In French, the use of the word “germain” dates back to the 12th century.e century and therefore has nothing to do with our neighbors across the Rhine. At this time, in France, the term “first cousin” became anchored in everyday language to designate, without much precision, all people with whom one shares a fairly close blood tie.

Over time, the meaning of the epithet “Germain” expressed both a relationship or an affinity with someone. In the Historical dictionary of the French language, we learn that the King of France used the term “my cousin” to address certain high dignitaries. This even gave rise to the ironic expression “the king is not his cousin”, to snub an overly pretentious person.

Today, for those who are lost, all the children from one set of siblings form a group of cousins ​​among themselves. Generally, in everyday life, the word “cousin” refers to first cousins, that is, those who share the same grandparents because they are the direct children of the siblings.

But each culture has its own way of referring to cousins. For example, English speakers speak, without embellishment, of “first cousin”, which translates as “first degree cousin”. In Romania, we use the pretty expression “sweet cousin”. While Quebecers, less poetic, sometimes speak of “cousin of the left buttock”!