"X" Number of Generations

Jim   Tuesday, May 13, 2003, 01:38 GMT
If your parents came from France, Denmark, Ireland, etc. and you were born and raised in America, Australia, Canada, etc. I'd say that you are first generation. Your kids would be second generation if and only if their other parent is also second generation or an immigrant.

I think "second generation" means that at least one of your grandparents came to the country but none of the previous generations had been there. You have ancestors that have been in America since the early 1600's. The only way that you could be second generation American is if, on average, in your family, people have childeren when they are 200 years old.

Simon is going to live in Belgium but he'll always be British. Even if he becomes a citizen he won't be first generation because he was born and raised elsewhere. His kids would be first generation Belgium, unless their mum is Belgian. Children of immigrants are first generation. If your father is nth generation and you mother is mth generation then you're either (n+1)th generation or (m+1)th generation, whichever is greater (or, of course, both if they're equal). For the purpose of this algebra I'm counting immigrants as zeroth generation, though in reality you never use this term. This is the way I see it.

My great great great great grandfather came to Australia from Ireland. He was Irish. His son, my great great great grandfather was the first generation to be born and raised in Australia so he was first generation Australian. That makes my grandad the fourth generation and so I'd be sixth generation Australian. It wouldn't matter if I have more recent arrivals to Australia in my family tree. That's as many generations that my family have been in the country (as far as I know).

Now here's the puzzle. I was born in Canada so am I still sixth generation Australian or first gerenation Canadian? I suppose I could say I'm both I've got two passports but I grew up in Australian and almost all my family is there so I feel more Aussie than Canadian.

Simon, I'm afraid that I don't agree with you here. Neither do all do Americans want to be someone else nor does everyone else want to be Americans. Knowing your heritage is more about knowing who you are. You can over do it I suppose though. There is more to who someone is than their ethnic background and you shouldn't let yourself con yourself into believing that you're someone who you're not.

Why do I feel I should have written "... you shouldn't let yourself con yourselfself into believing ..."?
Jim   Tuesday, May 13, 2003, 01:41 GMT
Well, it seems that they were getting through after all but the strange thing is that I never saw them appear until now. Oh well, excuse my posting the same thing three times.
KT   Tuesday, May 13, 2003, 03:08 GMT
Yeah sometimes it takes a few time of refreshing until the postings actually show up.


No I'm not American. I am Chinese, was born in Hong Kong, spent a few years in the States. But I always find similarities between Hong Kong and the States in terms of immigrantion. Of course the scale of immigration cannot be compared to the one of the States.

Here is a little background of Hong Kong:
Hong Kong was a still little fishing/farming village till the end of 18th century. After the Opium War (1842), the British took over Hong Kong Island and 1860 they gained Kowloon Peninsula, and 1898 they "leased" the New Territories for 99 years. Hong Kong (including Kowloon, NT) has been flourish since then, thanks to the hardworking people and a good government, and trade system the British set up.

During Japanese invasion of China, thousands and thousand of Mainland Chinese took refuge in Hong Kong. And I believe my grandparents arrived in Hong Kong around that time. The population skyrocketed. The number rised from 32,983 in 1851, to 878,947 in 1931 to about 1.6 million in 1939. That's why, according to Jim's way of counting, most Hong Kong people are second or third generation immigrants. And I'm a second-generation Hong Kong Chinese.

Anyway, because not only people from the nearby Chinese cities moved to Hong Kong, even though most were from the Guangdong Province, we do have different roots. People from ChiuChau, Shanghai, Szechuan, Canton, from all over China. Considering China is a big country, there are different dialects of Chinese (not accents, we actually can't understand each other by speaking different dialects), different food, different traditions, different believes, etc., among people from different region. That's why I find Hong Kong's composition of population is a miniature of the one in the States.
Clark   Tuesday, May 13, 2003, 07:22 GMT
"... you shouldn't let yourself con yourselfself into believing ..." Very, very, VERY true Jim. So this would mean I am second generation American on my mom's side, as my mom is first generation on her mom's side (my mom's mom is from England).

But on the other hand, I am 13th generation American on my great-granddad's mother's side of the family from England. And I am 7th generation on my father's father's father's...side of the family from Germany. This can get rahter confusing. Saying I am American is much easier ;-)
Jim   Wednesday, May 14, 2003, 00:13 GMT
Then I'd count you as 13th generation.
Clark   Wednesday, May 14, 2003, 06:20 GMT
Why not 2nd? Or 7th? Or 6th as my Danish and French ancestors would make me 6th generation Americans?
Jim   Thursday, May 15, 2003, 04:45 GMT
... or take an average.

I'm just going by the highest number. I think that that's the sense in which the expression is usually used. Anyway this is how I think of it.
Clark   Thursday, May 15, 2003, 05:31 GMT
I would take it as what ever "culture" you feel close to. So if I was really keen on being Anglo-American, I might just say 13th generation. However, I am really keen about my English heritage, so I would say 2nd generation.
hp20   Thursday, May 15, 2003, 18:55 GMT
i'd agree with jim. i count myself as having been a part of america since the 1600's which is when my people first came over. makes more sense that way--that's how long american history has also been my own.
Clark   Friday, May 16, 2003, 00:08 GMT
What if a person has one parent and three grandparents that came from Italy; the other grandparent who did not come from Italy was half-Italian and the other half was the descendent of the Puritans who came to America in the 1600's? Would this person not be a 1st generation Italian-American?

I guess that my views about this are oppisite of your views, Jim and hp20.
hp20   Friday, May 16, 2003, 05:25 GMT
whaa....? yeah, he'd be 1st generation italian-american, but overall he'd be, say, 10th generation american. that's the case with me (minus the italian and puritan specifics, of course). i think it's just as important to reflect your american heritage as it is other nations, which is why if someone asked how many years my family has been in america, i would say 300 years instead of 80 (earliest emigrant to latest). if they asked me more, i would say more about when so-and-so came over from God knows where, but since they're obviously asking about my american heritage, i'd respond according to who had been HERE longest.

of course, you could and people do say things like "i'm 3rd generation irish-am, 5th generation italian-am., and 10th generation german-am.," but it sounds goofy and long-winded. i'd always go with the oldest number.
Clark   Friday, May 16, 2003, 05:45 GMT
I would just say that I am American, and then when pressed for further specifics, I might say my first ancestors to come to America came in the 1600's and the latest came in 1947 (both sets from England ironically enough).
Jim   Friday, May 16, 2003, 06:41 GMT
I'm with hp20. They'd be 10th or so generation American with a bunch of Italian blood.