Who are you? Who am I?

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  • Who are you? Who am I?
  • Premier Icon SaxonRider

    I have always had a serious interest in cultures and ethnicities, especially as they relate to individual identity. I thought as a child, and continue to think, that inherited culture lends us a personal currency we can choose to draw on or not, but that gives us access to the world’s languages, music, food, art, etc., in a way that goes beyond mere cultural tourism.

    Anyway, I am wondering what others think about this:

    When I lived in Montreal, I hung out and played football with a Portuguese guy. He was born and raised in Montreal, and like many Canadians, spoke French and English, plus the language used most at home (which in this case was Portuguese). I was talking to a mono-glot English guy the other, though, who said with some incredulity, ‘Would you stop calling him Portuguese? He’s Canadian!’ And I can’t help but think that that’s bizarre. Everyone in Canada (except for aboriginal people) is really ‘hyphenated’ in the sense that they come from somewhere else in the last generation or three.

    I, myself, have a Canadian-born British mother whose own parents (my grandparents) came from Jedburgh and Oxford. My dad’s parents, meanwhile, came to Canada from Ukraine just before the Holodomor, but are part of a population called ‘Russlanddeutschen’, as they were ethnic Germans who settled in the Russian step at the invitation of Catherine the Great. My dad’s first language was German, and his parents spoke German, Ukrainian, Russian, nd English. As for me, I was born and raised in Canada, attending a French-language school, learning German folk songs from my dad, and eating British and Ukrainian foods. Now I am a dual British-Canadian citizen living in Wales with my wife and children – four of whom are born in Cardiff.

    Anyway, my point, really, is to ask who we think we are. I feel happy that with all the ethnic/cultural threads that make up my identity, and believe that everyone should, no matter what their background. But to be told by someone that I am simply ‘this’ or ‘that’ just doesn’t sit well.

    In your mind, in terms of ethnic/cultural identity: are people what simply what they want to be? Or are they their citizenship? Or a product of the place where they reside? Or the language(s) they speak? Or the most dominant feature(s) of their upbringing? Or do you think there is even a formula?


    Ronnie Pickering

    Tenth generation thieving Scottish peasant.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    The Who hits this spot right now. Thanks for that scotroutes!


    and like many <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Quebecois</span>, spoke French and English

    Fixed that for you.

    Anyhoo: I think you shouldn’t be defined by the country you were, through no fault of your own, born in. You are who you are, regardless of where you are born.

    I was born in England but I’ve never considered myself strongly British.

    Mister P

    I’m forty-fifth generation Roman.


    No! I’m Spartacus.

    Premier Icon P-Jay

    I think the whole I’m one nationality, but from another thing is fairly well restricted to the US and Canada. (I thought it was just a American thing tbh).

    My Great Grandfather came to Wales on a ship from the Middle East, he fell ill en route and lost his sight – when he arrived in Cardiff his shipmates took him to a Doctor and left him behind. He was ‘Arabian’, but his Daughter was Welsh, even though her Dad was an Arab and her Mother English, that was it.

    My Grandfather was also Welsh, he was born in Cardiff weeks after his parents moved her for work from Gloucester.

    Pretty much my whole extended family are Welsh, despite being genetically made up of part Anglo-Saxon and Arabic, it’s an odd mix of blood, well I say ‘mix’ it doesn’t really. my Younger Brother has olive skin and is about 5′ 6″, I’m 5′ 11″ and ‘pale as a ginger bird’s arse’ – my whole family is the same, you’re either ‘tall’ and pale (I know 5′ 11″ is average, but compared to the others we’re tall) or short and dark skinned.

    My Wife, also Welsh, descends from pure-bred Irish Catholics.  Guess that makes my kids Arab-WASP-Irish Welsh. we’re just mutts really. 😉

    Premier Icon Pyro

    Cumbrian born, half-and-half Geordie/Cumbrian parentage.

    Exiled to the **** side of the Pennines, though my crimes are as yet unspecified. Waiting for the day I can get out of the ****hole that is Yorkshire.


    The Germans and the Ukrainians do seem to have given themselves and other people a lot of bother focussing on ethnicity.

    I’m not doubting it’s interesting to know where you come from but in some people it seems to develop in extremely unhealthy ways. Don’t let it become an obsession 🙂

    Donald the Pict


    people are simply what they want to be


    But, I think there is a real problem at the moment with labels. In particular people taking offence at them and projecting offensive meanings on to them when none is present.

    For example, your nationality is nothing more than a label for the country in which you were born. It may have very little to do with your ancestry, what culture(s) you have experienced or which culture(s) you identify with. Your nationality does not define you, it simply tells people where you were born.

    Premier Icon kelvin

    For example, your nationality is nothing more than a label for the country in which you were born.

    My nationality has nothing to do with the country in which I was born, nor has it ever done… Nothing is simple when it comes to this, and it is becoming more and more important to remember that, as people seek to put everyone in “us” and “them” boxes, for their own ends.

    it simply tells people where you were born.

    Or not.


    Irish parents, born and bred England, feel culture-less and identity-less, which is how I like it. Obvs to outsiders I must be a typical WAS, but I like to think I would be welcoming to all.


    Would you stop calling him Portuguese? He’s Canadian!’

    Technically, yes, the guy is Canadian by birth, but that’s his nationality; ethnically he’s Portuguese, exactly as bluebird says above.

    As far back as I know, my family on both sides are English, on my dad’s side from one small village about eight miles away, from the 1760’s, and prior to that possibly Hampshire, on my mum’s side I’m not entirely sure but her maiden name was Knight, so likely English as well. My dad’s mum and gran had the surname of Drake, which traces back to Dorset, and a link to Sir Francis Drakes family, but he was one of nine, so it’s a tenuous link. It does link me to a real hero, John Drake, a Royal Marine who saved several people after a shipwreck off the South African coast, HMS Birkenhead, which was the largest loss of life at sea until the Titanic, he was part of the crew of a RN ship engaged in catching Portuguese slaving ships off the South American coast, and he survived the Crimea and lived to the age of 82!

    Personally I’d be really chuffed to find I had ancestors from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, indicates a much more interesting and fascinating family history.

    My dad has been doing the ancestry with the DNA swabs. Put together a family tree that goes back to 1655 where a Robert Wachowchow lived in Churt, which is about 12 miles from where I, my dad and grandad was born in Fleet and about 10 miles from where I currently reside in Alton.Proper Hampshire bumpkins.

    DNA suggests northern European heritage. Probably French invaders what came over in 1066 ish.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I think it’s whatever you identify with as long as you have a reasonable claim. I’m half Welsh and half English. I could claim to be Welsh since I’ve lived here not far off half my life, similarly I could claim to be English because I sound it and I was born there. British is easiest.

    But if you are American through and through whilst having an Irish grandparent, is it fair play to call yourself Irish? I think some Americans think of it as a social affiliation like being say a Packers fan, rather than an actual national identity, which is why you can say you are Irish as well as considering yourself as American as apple pie. But then I think many Americans don’t really ‘get’ the rest of the world.


    It’s not where your from, it’s where your at 🎶

    Premier Icon funkmasterp

    All just people to me, myself included. The only time I claim to be anything is when I purposefully enter Yorkshireman stereotype mode when I don’t want to spend any money.


    But if you are American through and through whilst having an Irish grandparent, is it fair play to call yourself Irish?

    have seen this elsewhere too – i once met a ‘Hungarian’ who insisted she was Serbian, despite having been born and raised in Hungary to parents who were also born and raised in Hungary.  When pressed, she said it was because her grandfather was Serbian.

    I didn’t really get that at all.

    I was born in England with one Irish parent, and I do feel a strong affiliation to Ireland (i go there most years for some family event or other) – but that’s as far as it goes. I would feel fraudulent claiming to be Irish.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen

    I’m 5/8ths English, 1/8th Irish, And possibly either 2/8th Angry Scottish Dwarf or 1/8th Angry Scottish and 1/8th Angry Dwarf as the ‘angry’ element seems to have conflated the ‘Scottish’ and ‘Dwarf’ together in the family folk-history and its hard to ascertain who was who.

    Not prone to anger myself – but at 6’6″ I self-identify as ‘Scotland’s Tallest Dwarf’

    Premier Icon Kryton57

    Part Viking, Part anglo saxon, my kids are also half West Indian (1/4 Bajan, 1/4 St Vincent).

    I am strongly drawn to Vikings and Norwegian things even before I knew the history.  My son has a short destructive competitive temper (Viking) and is less than average paced at everything other aspect of his live (Caribbean).


    I think if you look a few generations back on my Dad’s side you’d find Italian immigrants (based on a old photo of his grandparents). My mum is Irish although has been in England since she was 15.

    I’m a citizen of the earth, I’ve been to a couple of other continents and while there are differences with the locals there we are all still at the heart of it humans.

    Whole family is Scottish other than paternal grandfather who is Irish.

    Born in Scotland and lived here all my life.

    I consider myself Scottish other than the fact that I’m applying for an Irish passport due to the whole Brexit ****. The things us Celts need to do to mitigate you English buggers’ silliness!


    I’m not doubting it’s interesting to know where you come from but in some people it seems to develop in extremely unhealthy ways. Don’t let it become an obsession.

    Definitely, be yourself first and foremost. I’m Welsh but both sides of my family came here from Scotland and Wiltshire in the late 19th century. Before that god knows, my sister is doing a family tree thing, interesting certainly but only that.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer

    100% English and British, with an Irish 3x great grandmother (and 4x great grandparents, and probably more Irish going further back, but I can’t prove that yet), and probably also with DNA that would confirm probable french invaders in distant ancestry.

    So less of a mongrel than some it seems. Sadly I can’t really claim to be Irish, but I know many that do with similarly distant ancestry.

    I can see that where boundaries have been redrawn over the last 100 years or so especially in Eastern Europe, it may make it interesting to decide, and clearly nationality and ethnicity are not the same.

    Nationality is just a modern construct to limit and restrict citizens of the world. Ethnicity is who you are.


    I’ve lived in Wales my whole life and was born here.  I call myself Welsh as it is a convenient way to let people know where I’m from  but I don’t identify with any particular culture anywhere in Wales whatsoever.  I consider the Brecon Beacons as my spiritual home purely because it is where I grew up but I am also drawn towards Snowdonia too, both because they have plenty of empty space for me to hide in and great riding.  I would never argue for the protection of the Welsh language or anything else that is considered integral to being Welsh either.  I am happy for people to be proud of their roots and to wear it as a badge of pride but when people take it to extremes I don’t like it.  I’m happy to learn about other cultures and their outlook on life, it’s one of life’s great bonuses for me actually.

    I think I’m most likely to identify with the culture of ‘outsider’ though than anything to do with where I live or my ancestry.  I kind of like not really fitting in anywhere.  What does that make me?  Don’t know, don’t care.

    Premier Icon bikebouy

    Nationality is just a modern construct to limit and restrict citizens of the world. Ethnicity is who you are.

    Inclined to agree with this statement.

    Its always good to explore ethnicity and heritage, less so claim a nationality for nationalisms sake.

    We are migrants of earth, immigrants of our own persuasion.


    Saxonrider ..in the nicest possible way ..you are one mixed up futhermucker..

    I’ve never chased this down to any degree ..I was born in North West Durham ..and crossed the border into Northumberland to live with my current partner 20 years ago ..my father has lived and worked in Northumberland since the early 60’s ..

    My greatest fear is that having traced the Hodgson name to a clan which originated in the Dumries area in Reivers times ..I might have a bit of tartan in me ..and this I would rather not know about ..so my heritage will continue to remain a mystery to me …

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner

    English, Irish, Scottish, French, Spanish and Flemish going back a couple of generations.

    We’re all pretty much mongrels.

    I think people should be identified by the f their birth, purely because they have no choice in the matter.

    It also annoys a lot of people, which is fine by me.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby

    I have English, Scots, Welsh and Irish blood. Got to love Merseyside.

    I am however pretty much ME. With a side portion of English. I have never felt anything other than that.

    Premier Icon nickc

    My maternal grandmother was Anglo Pakistani. She came from Lahore, and for all her life told a whopping bunch of porkies about her heritage because (and this is the sad part) she was.a refugee who came to Britain before the war, and was ashamed. She pretended to be English (despite the fact that to intents and purposes she was clearly, with hindsight, ) a Pakistani woman. She spoke fluent Urdu, (taught me and my brother itsy bitsy spider in it) and to the casual observer was obviously an Asian woman. To us she was just granny.

    After her death, we found our relatives who still live there, and they welcomed us into the huge side of the family none of knew existed until 10 years ago. I wish more than anything she’d have let us do all this when she was alive, but I know she would’ve just been dead set against it. It makes me sad to think about it now.

    Premier Icon Caher

    Nothing but Irish both sides – right back to the bronze age (pre celt) if you belive the latest genetic research. Have relatives all over the earth though.

    Premier Icon northernsoul

    Or a product of the place where they reside? Or the language(s) they speak? Or the most dominant feature(s) of their upbringing?

    …and have resided, which can effect all the others – e.g. I lived in France for 2.5 years in my late twenties and that has made me a different person culturally and linguistically now than I would have been had I not lived there (I still read French, and occasionally speak French for work, love cultural things I might not otherwise etc). I grew up in N. Yorks and I still love returning there… it’s where my love of the outdoors started. Some of the other places I’ve lived I’m less nostalgic about… but in many cases have led to lasting friendships with all kinds of people. I’m also lucky that my work takes me to lots of places around the world.

    All of these contribute to me being me. Nationality is a label on my passport (but I appreciate that it’s more complex for some with dual nationalities etc).

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    Saxonrider ..in the nicest possible way ..you are one mixed up futhermucker.


    Thank you all for your input so far. In the meantime I just wanted to stress that, for me, ethnic/cultural/national identity is not a matter of pride per se. It’s about being happy with something important about ourselves.

    I love the threads that go into my makeup, but I don’t think they are superior to the threads that go into anyone else’s makeup – no matter what that is. It’s all part of the human tapestry, that  – when you can pan out to see it – is beautiful.

    of course we are humans, and citizens of the world, but if we transpose that idea to the image of a tapestry, we all add a different colour to make it what it is. It wouldn’t be a very nice tapestry if it was all one colour.


    Born to English parents in  SW England.   Who then went to Singapore  Primary school Yorkshire, Secondary Glasgow.  Lived most of my life in Scotland and its my home and thats important to me.  .

    Genetically – usual mix of nordic and germanic tribes but also some laplander ?  My dad genetically is part viking

    Family tree traced back a long way to a  distinguished line of peasants with the odd artisan.  Shropshire and Cornish roots.  I have seen a pile of stones  that was the family house in a field near a tiny village

    I’m a brit  Cant be anything else.   Blue eyes brown hair craggy face.


    I love scotland dearly and its my home.  But I’m not a scot nor ever will be.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner

    Great thread!

    Love this stuff.

    My mum’s lot are half Spanish and half Flemish with the odd Mancunian here and there. Moved to work in Cottonopolis.

    Dad’s lot are  Irish and French.

    Some of the Irish lot were involved in the civil war, Granddad moved to Sheffield to get away from it all. His mum was piano teacher from Paris.

    Scottish and something Slavic a bit further back.

    I’m a Mancunian, even though I’ve not lived there for twenty years. 🙂

    Happy to be born in the UK, it’s generally a pretty amazing place.

    Remain, innit?

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