Is there another way to say “half sister” and “half brother”? El Bran responds

Except for the Accademia della Crusca

Many readers wonder how the terms half-brother and half-sister can be replaced by brothers and sisters who have only one parent in common. Other questions – including that of two girls, both named Giulia (Giulia Viola and Giulia Rossa) – focus on how to indicate the son and daughter of the mother’s or father’s partner, for whom not even the middle brother and half-sister seem. appropriate (since no parent is common). Many issues also relate to the substitution of the stepmother, unwanted because, like the half-brother and half-sister, they are perceived with a negative connotation. Not infrequently, the Academy is invited to “invent” synonyms or propose new names to indicate such family relationships.

The phenomenon of the extended families, in constant growth, has determined for a long time relations of kinship or affinity to which it seems that they do not adapt the singeniomini (thus the terms are defined technically that indicate relations of kinship) of the traditional lexicon . In fact, sharing with a single parent was a circumstance far from rare even in the past, so much so that the online Treccani Vocabulary, sv brother, records the following sentences (to which we will return):

f[ratello] carnal or German (unlike f[ratello] cousin, an expression that is not used today to indicate the relationship between siblings); f[ratelli] unilateral (in the language as half-siblings), those who have only one parent in common, also called f[ratelli] of father (or relatives) if[ratelli] of mother (or uterine), depending on whether the common parent is the father or the mother.

Not even the fact (not uncommon today) that each of the two members of a marriage would have had a child from a previous marriage is not new, but -before the introduction of divorce- this only happened after widowhood. In this case, the son and daughter of the stepfather or stepmother were indicated (and this also results from some questions that have come down to us) as half-brother and half-sister, names that lexicography assigns instead only to those who they have only one parent in common and not both. But these terms, as evidenced by the many questions we have received, no longer seem satisfactory today, such as stepson and stepfather and stepmother.

Let us briefly reconstruct the history of the various words, beginning with the pair of brothers: these two voices, which have been imposed on other lexical types that have the same Latin roots (friar in one case, soro, sorocchia, serocchia and sirocchia in a case). the other), are documented ab antiquo (brother of 1211, sister of 1260-61, according to data from the OVI corpus), but for some time they had the competence of brother and sister (indeed there are those who believe that the use of germano, del llatí germānu (m), per * germinānu (m) ‘que és del (mateix) llinatge’, del qual deriven el castellà hermano i el català germà, tots dos anteriors al de germà; cf. DELI 1999). Today sibling is used almost exclusively as an adjective, in the sister phrases ‘siblings shared by both parents’ (see quote from the Treccani Vocabulary above) and especially German cousins, to indicate “first degree” cousins, children of two siblings. , or two sisters, or a brother and a sister.

The terms stepfather, stepmother and stepson (also documented in Old Italian: from 1292 stepmother and stepfather, from 1211 stepson, again on the basis of the OVI corpus) are voices of direct tradition, although the corresponding Latin words they are formed only in late times, instead of the classical terms vitricus, noverca, and privignus, which had no substitutes (but stepfather and stepmother may have been modeled on privignus). On the other hand, the half-brother and the sister-teacher are Italian neo-formations, attested in a considerably more recent epoch. In this regard, we first read what DELI 1999 states:

The stepbrother is v[o]c[e] of northern Italy (fradelastro in Venice in 1829, Boerio; fradlaster in Mantua in 1827, Cherubini […]; fradellaster in Milan in 1840, Cherubini; fradlastr in Piedmont in 1859, Sant’Albino), which comes into common use[aliano] only in the second half of the century. XIX.

The first example, shown at the beginning of the entry, is taken from Giuseppe Manuzzi, Vocabolario della lingua italiana, 2nd ed., Florence, in the Stamperia del vocabulary and language texts, vol. II, 1861. But DELI quotes immediately after the definition of the fradlaster voice to Francesco Cherubini, Vocabulari mantuano-italià, Milà, Bianchi, 1827: “Gremà uterí. Mother’s brother. Brother of father and not of mother, and also Brother, absolutely. With all due respect to Italian lexicographers, however, it is believed that the word stepbrother imitated by his stepson would not be heretical.

DELI himself, sv sister, dated av. 1786 thanks to the attestation to the Venetian Carlo Gozzi, cites a similar passage of the Fradellàster voice in the Milanese Vocabulary of Cherubini himself (Milan, Imp. Regia Stamperia, 1840). [non 1843, come indicato nel DELI], p. 171), which we prefer to report in full:

Fradellàster. Uterine brother. Mother’s brother. – Brother of father and not of mother, and also brother absolutely – The Italian distinction between the two species of fradellaster is adequate but it is a defect of the language that we do not have a generic name that, embracing these two species, gives an idea quick (which this does not give the absolute Brother) of this kind of kinship. However, it would not be a great sin, I think, to use the half-sister, the step-sister, as it would enrich the language of two voices, I am about to say necessary, and perfectly coined in the taste of her German half-sister. Son and stepdaughter, and with which, indeed, one would get to have the opposite of the own German.

Evidently the two terms were born, in the northern area, with a distinctive function, to fill an “objective gap” in the common Italian lexicon. Google Books, however, allows us to anticipate the first attestation of the items (also with regard to the report doubtfully reported to the DELI: “the Duez, 1664, records half-brother on the sign. Of ‘brother-in-law’). [?]”). The earliest examples of half-brother and half-sister are in Antoine Oudin’s Italian-French dictionary (Recherches italiennes et françoises, ou Dictionnaire…, Paris, Sommaville, 1655; some serious accents absent from the original s’ It is true that here the Italian half-brother (pp. 325) and the sister (pp. 799-800) correspond to the French beau-frère and belle-soeur, which today mean ‘brother-in-law’ and ‘sister-in-law’. ‘, but in the definitions we add, respectively,’ fils de our beau-père ou belle-mère ‘and’ fille du beau-père ou belle-mère. ‘ 851) and, next to the grandfather, the grandfather (p. 550), but also the stepfather (p. 588) and the teacher (p. 570).), While bella mère, as well as for mother-in-law (p. 851) and mother-in-law (p. 789), is used, next to marastre, as a translation of the Italian words madrastra (p. 507), madrigna (p. 486) and novelca (p. 552). The existence of our two syngenonyms, in its meaning t current, therefore, dates back to the century. XVIII. However, it is very likely that its use, widespread in unique regional areas, was established throughout Italy only after Unification.

Today, however, the two terms no longer seem acceptable, because, because of the purely denotative value they probably originally had, they have assumed a connotative value, both because of the presence of the suffix -astro, whose negative meaning is perceived when added to nouns ( which is in fact in formations such as poetaster or doctor), which also fits very well with certain literary characters of fairy tales and fiction, especially that of children (where stepmothers, stepfathers, stepmothers and the bad guys). stepbrothers abound), and also (I would say) because they evoke an act of mourning that has not normally occurred today. From time to time in the past there was also talk of “half” or “half” of brothers or sisters and the use still does not seem to be completely over (as documented by one of our readers).

But today things have changed: both brothers and sisters (and usually considered as such) are defined as brothers and sisters whom the Treccani Online Vocabulary calls adopted brothers or sisters, “when the relationship of brotherhood is created as a result of ‘an act of adoption.’ between legitimate children and natural children. or illegitimate.

In the abstract, then, gathered under the name of brothers and sisters both those who share the two parents, both those who have in common or only the father or only the mother, and the “adoptive siblings”, the terms half brother and half brother. -sister would be available to fill another “empty goal” of the Italian lexicon and be used in the situation indicated by readers (as in fact, and has been said, sometimes has already happened in the past). But what makes it difficult to spread today is precisely the negative connotation with which they are still perceived, which seems to imply at least some degree of conflict (when it exists, traditional words are used).


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