KinQuest - A new tool for eliciting and comparing kinship terminology

Lindsey, Kate
Fine, Julia
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KinQuest is a new and intuitive electronic questionnaire for collecting and organizing lexical data pertaining to kinship, families and relationships. The project was developed to gather complete kinship terminologies of the Volgaic Finno-Ugric and Turkic language families for cross-linguistic comparison in an organized and natural way. The questionnaire, however, was developed with the broad swath of linguistic diversity in mind and is equipped with smart tracking features that will accommodate most documented kinship systems. The KinQuest questionnaire may be completed by linguists or anthropologists, but was written and designed to be easily understood by non-specialists as well. The questions flow naturally from parent-type relationships to siblings, on to children and finally affinal relationships. Each question is supplemented with a unique, easy-to-understand diagram, which exhibits standard colors, shapes, and tree-branching relationship representations with accompanying descriptions and numerical references. The questionnaire is interspersed systematically with guided yes/no questions that ensure that terms are elicited for all appropriate distinctions (e.g., gender of ego, relative age, gender of relation (or intervening relations), number of generations, etc.). Additionally, a space for additional standard, non-standard, and/or dialectal terms is provided for each question. The questionnaire may be administered offline or online, remotely or locally. Due to the length of the survey, and the amount of possible questions, it is only available electronically. All answers are organized in an online spreadsheet, through Google Drive, and labeled with standard kinship codes for easy integration into KinOath and other kinship software. The spreadsheet organizes data for multiple languages or dialects for easy comparison and cross-linguistic analysis. Ultimately, all the lexical data collected from the questionnaires will be compiled into a searchable database with illustrations representing the diverse kinship systems and side-by-side lists for lexical comparison. My electronic poster presentation will show how this elicitation task can be administered and customized, with examples from my work describing the kinship systems of the Finno-Ugric and Turkic languages of the Volga region of Russia.
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