Note on Family Nomenclature

According to the Relatives Chart, the standard English label for a first cousin’s child would be “first cousin, once removed.” Filipinos, however, use the term “pamangkin” — preferably translated to English as “nephew” or “niece” — to clarify the generational removal, distinguishing cousins (“pinsan”) from their children, as well as from more distant relatives further up the tree who would also qualify as removed cousins in the standard nomenclature.

Hence, whenever I use the words “nephew” or “niece,” it’s just as likely to refer to any of my many cousins’ children as to my brother’s boy. As a corollary, when I refer to an “uncle” or “aunt” (or the Tagalog “tito” or “tita”), I may mean a relative of greater than first degree who is above me or my parents on the family tree.


  1. rowie says:

    How well explained! Having this printed on a little calling card ready to be distributed would clear up a lot of confusion during Filipino family get-togethers held abroad (where cousins who grew up elsewhere constantly say things like, “She’s your second cousin, not your niece!”).

  2. rowie says:

    By the way, the link doesn’t work. And I now know that even with English family nomenclature, calling my first cousin’s daughter a “second cousin” is also wrong! Ha! This thus resolves a longstanding debate I’ve had with my first cousin. :)