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Nth generation

When you say you're an "Nth-generation American" (or Canadian, or Kiwi, or wherever), do you reckon from the branch of the family that's been there the longest, or the shortest?

(I suppose it depends on what point you intend to make with the information. But is there a standard?)



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
I think it entirely varies based on your point. You might be a first-generation American if you're talking about your difficulties dealing with your family's culture vs. society overall or a sixth-generation American if you want to establish your Americanness. Dunno really.
May. 7th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think you're right.
May. 10th, 2010 08:36 am (UTC)
It depends on why you are talking about it. For instance, on my father's side,I'm a 1st generation American. Yes, My father literally came over on a boat. But on my mother's side I can go back to before the Civil War and possibly much further. So when I talk about politics and specifically the immigration issues, I can point to the fact that I'm the daughter of a legal immigrant. When I watch the American version of "Who do You think you are?" I can talk about tracing my mother's family. And when I want to totally confuse my kids I tell them I'm a first generation alien from Mars.
May. 15th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
That's one of the neat things about being American; in fact, I think "first-generation American" can apply to naturalized immigrants. You don't have to be born here to be an American.

I had a British friend once who got snooty about Americans' habit of calling themselves "Irish-American" or "Polish-American" rather than just "American". He felt that it indicated that an identity as an American was somehow too weak. I said that in his case, his ethnic, cultural, and national identities were all the same. For us that wasn't necessarily so.

May. 15th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Forgot to add: I love the Mars reference!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )