Humble   Tue May 22, 2007 4:38 am GMT
“Have you got a family?” is a common question, isn’t it?
In the Russian language area it means “Are you married?”. It seems, in Britain it means “Have you got children?” Am I right?
If a married person has no children what is he/she supposed to answer – “Yes, I have” or “No, I haven’t”?

K. T.   Tue May 22, 2007 4:48 am GMT
If you have a spouse, you have a family. You also have your family of origin.

In social settings I never ask if someone has a family or if he/she has children. It usually comes out in the conversation at some time whether or not one has children. I don't ask because I don't want to pressure people or embarrass them if they lost a child.
Guest   Tue May 22, 2007 5:30 am GMT
In America, you can say "Do you have a family?" and the response can be either "Yes, I do." or "No, I don't." It's not a very common question, though. People are more likely to say "Do you have any kids?"
furrykef   Tue May 22, 2007 7:22 am GMT
I have to admit the question "Do you have a family?" strikes me (an American) as odd. In my mind, everybody has a family of some kind unless they have no idea who their relatives are, which is a rare situation. So if somebody asked me that question, I would probably respond with something more specific than "yes" or "no": "I live with my parents," or "I live alone with my girlfriend", etc.

- Kef
Guest   Tue May 22, 2007 7:52 am GMT
It could also be the case that all of your family is dead.
Guest   Tue May 22, 2007 12:16 pm GMT
1. My first choice of sentence even in my native language.
"Do you have kids?"

2. Everybody has a family. Dead or not.
Even in my native language which is not English, people are more likely to ask "what do your parents do"?
if they are alive, you can say they do such and such job but if they are dead you can say they were used to do such and such job.

I havent heard someone asking a question like "do you have a family"? it sounds so odd. On a different note, they would probably ask "Are you married or not? if you say you are married, then they would probably ask "how many kids do you have"?

That's how it is done in my country.
K. T.   Tue May 22, 2007 9:47 pm GMT
There is also the question "Do you have family?" There is no "a" in this common question and sometimes the real question is "Do you have a support system at home or someone who can help you during an illness?"
It could also (socially) be "You are so far from home. Do you have any relatives in this area/country?"
Humble   Wed May 23, 2007 4:57 am GMT
Thank you all.
Actually, I started wondering after I saw sth like
- He had to settle down, marry Celine and raise a family. -
Here, it means children.
Uriel   Wed May 23, 2007 5:04 am GMT
Well, to be honest, I don't think of a husband and wife as a "family" per se. Not unless they have children. THEN it becomes a family. That may not be how others perceive it, but.... that's my two cents.
K. T.   Wed May 23, 2007 6:13 pm GMT
Hmmm...I don't think the income tax people agree with you, Uriel.

I agree that "family" does mean "children" in Humble's example.

One of my brothers doesn't have any children, but he's married and has a wife. That's his family (plus his family of origin)...
Guest   Wed May 23, 2007 7:09 pm GMT
My dad is an income tax officer. He is reading this email.
Guest   Wed May 23, 2007 7:15 pm GMT
<<One of my brothers doesn't have any children, but he's married and has a wife.>>
Nope. A family is not completed without children. I think if his first wife is agreed he can get married with a second girl. Both woman can live as good friends together with the same person without giving a divorce to the first wife. When you have kids, you can see your past in them. Otherwise your life is an empty vacuum. It happens in muslim man is allowed to have 4 wives. In such a scenario, this tradition is a good thing. You dont need to discard your first wife altogether. But it requires a lot of courage and understanding on the part of both wives.
K. T.   Wed May 23, 2007 8:54 pm GMT
My brother isn't a muslim or an old-style Mormon.

My brother helps his nephews and nieces. I wouldn't describe his life as an empty vacuum.

There certainly is value is family, but that isn't all of life.

I suppose it depends on your spiritual perspective as well as your cultural perspective.

Most examples I know of men with multiple wives haven't been happy stories. They also used to have multiple "wives" in China.