Dominant nationalities?

Last night Mr. Rilch and I, and the two people who were with us, got to talking about nationalities. I’m half Italian, one quarter Slovak, and one quarter something called Windish. I usually describe myself as Italian (both my maiden and married names are Italian), unless I’m feeling particularly bohemian, in which case I’m Slovak. Windish is too hard to explain, so I don’t even go there.

Mr. Rilch is Italian and German, and calls himself Italian. His mom shrieks and implores him to remember the German side, but he doesn’t want to admit to having one. No offense to any Germans reading this; that’s just how he feels.

Fritz (from Frisco) is Irish and Polish; during the meal, he explained his thirds on potatoes by saying, “I’m a mick; whaddaya want?”.

Steve is Irish and German; he calls himself Irish.

I think that if someone is part Irish or part Italian, they are more Irish or Italian than they are the other contributors, unless the other factors are similarly dominant nationalities. (Someone who’s both would be a very conflicted person.) Anyone agree or disgree, or want to contribute other “dominant” nationalities?

Also, here’s an anecdote I always meant to post. Once when I was waitressing, this elderly man was trying to guess my nationality. He got Italian on the first try, and I said, “Half, but I bet you can’t guess the other half.” One of his guesses was “Jewish”. I said, “That’s not a nationality.” Don’t you hate people who think that?

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

Aren’t you guys all Americans ??
Seriously, does this still mean a lot, I mean, among white people, where the ancestors came from ?

Anyway, we all know Dutch is the Dominant Nationality :wink:


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

In my experience, the dominant nationality in a mixed Euro-American is determined by patriarchy. This is partly because of the influence of a surname in determing how people are going look at you. Someone named Kowalski could easily be three-quarters Spanish or fifteen-sixteenths Irish, but everyone is going to think they are Polish. So to keep people from looking at them funny, they might just describe themselves as Polish and ignore the rest of their nationalities.

I am a quarter “Scotch-Irish”, a quarter German, a quarter Danish, and a quarter Italian. To my Danish relatives, I am “Danish”. To my Italian relatives, I am “Italian”. So there is also an element of proximity - since I’ve had most contact with my Danish relatives, I end up considering myself Danish more than anything else. And I’ve never met a relative (or anyone else for that matter) who considered themself “Scotch-Irish”, although the situation might have been different before 1920.

I think national origins are still pretty important to Americans. One disadvantage black Americans have, is the difficulty in knowing what ethnic group one’s ancestry is. That is part of why I specified Euro-Americans in the first paragraph. African Americans might have any surname, any combination of European and African tribes in their ancestry, but their ethnicity will usually just be described as “black”.

Part of the problem is, most white Americans can trace their ancestry back to a nation, or several. This gives generations, perhaps dozens of generations, of accepted ethnicity to base traditions on. Their surname could be the same for twenty generations of direct-male descendance. Black America is a real ethnic group (notice I’m not talking about blacks as a “race” since I don’t really like the concept of race: it is superficially cut-an-dried when the reality is much more vague).

The problem is, Black America is new ethnic group competing for some sort of “legitimacy” in a sea of really old ethnic groups. Never mind that the distinct ethnicities African Americans sprang from might be just as old as, or older than, any other ethnic group. Recent immigration notwithstanding, you’re still not going to find an Ibo section of town, a Bantu section of town, or a Venda section of tow in an American city.

I dunno if this helps, but I am predominately Mexican (both my parents), but somehow I have a quarter French in me (Damn, the cowardous frogs)… so, what do I say?,… I’m an American!! OK, but if people ask, I am ‘Mexican-American’… who cares?! Not many do! You’d be surprised what people think that I am… Italian, Samoan?!(I weigh 150lb !!), Filipino, etc… it goes on and on… I don’t want to change the thread, but, DAMMIT! Who cares?! I don’t think it should be a big issue…

I can’t speak for anyone else, but yeah, it is sort of important to me to know my ancestry. I’m Polish (100% as near as I know) and have various baptism and death certificates from Catholic churches in Poland which has allowed me to determine where my family was from, immigration logs into the United States, and other documents that helps me recount my family’s past. And well – my family’s past occurs in Poland.

There’s nothing wrong with not caring about where your family is from, but there’s nothing wrong with caring about it either.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Hey Joph, you should care! I mean that’s your blood! If you don’t care for another reason, OK. But, never let someone else tell you (or influence) you what to care about… Stand Proud, my young Polish friend! = )

I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him…

I’m half Portuguese, a quarter French, and a quarter Irish. Portuguese from my father’s side (he’s 100% Portuguese). Obviously, the French and Irish come from my mother…her mother was French, her father is Irish. I can trace the Portuguese back to my family’s entrance to the US in the 1890’s, the Irish back to the early 1800’s, and the French to the 1880’s.

To me, it’s important. I refuse to let my ancestors’ feats go unremembered, and I’ll be damned if my future kids don’t know where they’re from (at least from my side, but my fiancee has the same feelings for her family’s history).

I’ll step off of my soapbox now.


Anyone who says they don’t like children obviously isn’t cooking them properly.

1/2 French-Canadian
1/4 Irish
1/8 French
1/8 German

“500% More Man” – Bo Diddley

Me mum’s parents were from County Cork and County Sligo. Me Dah’s mum was born here, the youngest (and only child one born here) of a family from Belfast. Her mother was English, her father Irish. My father’s father’s family was German, came over around 1830.

My wife’s mother was born in Scotland. Her father is a Swamp Yankee (they been around so long nobody remembers where they came from. Probly Scotch-Irish originally).

My kid is a mutt. We are all Americans. Ethnic background is fun (at least if yer Irish 'cause we have the best beer and music) but it doesn’t make you anything but what you are.

Lex Non Favet Delicatorum Votis

Well, if tell I must:

3/4 German
1/4 Irish

Yer pal,

There’s a lot of laddies here… let’s toast with a shot of Bushmills!! I’m a spic, but c’mon, drink up!! I like to see the Irish blood, I dunno, I makes my Irish eyes smile!! = )

You guys go!!


I’m 100% Portuguese, yet some people insist that I am French because I look French and my name sounds French. Dammit, I’m not French!

Louie; Dreamy Portugese Eyes, then…

I’m Dutch, and German, and Cherokee, and Scots-Irish( mixed before America) and Oswego, and British, too…but maybe that’s just what all the folks own up to…

But I’ll always honor my great grandfather most… cause he used to, in the 1950’s, really want to pass on his cultural dilemma. He was 1/2 Cherokee and 1/2 German(what more could there dilemma BE?)… and would tell my mother as he got old, and she became a young girl; "We’re CHEROKEE,., don’t forget… like his mother before him, but we weren’t part of a TRIBE… so what does that do to the psyche??? Up until very recent times, it’s been quite difficult to function as a whole(mixed cultural, if not obvious
blood) person in the dominant motif of the IDEAL … Most of the best of us know that this is bullshit, but, somehow, just keep struggling, to make it through the world.

I had a dream one night, quite vivid, where my great-grandmother told me how her people(Cherokee) purposefully planted “time-bomb” seeds into the future- EVEN-IF- it meant changing the old bodylook thing… Well, I dunno, but I sure as hell hope she meant me…

I have a very Irish-sounding name, but I’m actually half Polish, 1/4 Irish, and 1/4 Scotch and some other stuff. I’ve only met one person (a total stranger in a bar) who was able to guess my ethnic background correctly.

“I’m not sure who’s watching TV these days, but they’re not getting any smarter.”

Well firstly I’m American, since I was born here. Next, I’m Colombian since both my parents were born there. Next, I’m Spanish because that’s where all my grandparents ancestry is from, except that my great-grandmother was British. So that makes my nationality Colombian-American and my heritage Spanish with a hint of British.

To tell you the truth, I can’t tell you what nationality I’m more of because I don’t think I’m more than 1/8 of anything. I’m your basic, true-blue, American mutt. I have German blood, Irish blood, English blood, Dutch blood (Hi Coldfire!), Finnish blood, and supposedly some Romanian gypsy blood, and a couple of others I can’t recall. My maiden last name is a German variant, so most people assume I’m German. But last names don’t mean much to your nationality. One of my dearest friends has your typical Polish last names, but is actually 3/4 Irish (mother came from Ireland, father was half-Irish and half Polish).

“We are what we pretend to be.”

  • Kurt Vonnegut

Scottish on mom’s side, Norwegian from Dad.

The Scot side is fairly well traced… my Grandfather was heavily into geneaology.

But those damn Vikings… didn;t keep records worth a damn!! :slight_smile:

Mom always said there’d be days like this…she just never said there’d be so MANY of them!!!

Okay, first I must deal with my peeve…We are talking about ETHNICITY here folks, not nationality (with Colfire as the exception thus far) Most of what I’ve read here are the ETHNIC backgrounds of people who - with stated exceptions - are Americans - THAT is your nationality. Whew. Somebody else want the soapbox now?

As for myself, I am an American whos ethnic stewpot includes such igredients as English, Scottish, Welsh, Russian, German, Portuguese, Morroccan, Onandagan (that’s AmerInd), and Finn. When asked about my nationality, I always say American without elaboration.

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

I do believe the term in your question should be Cultural Heritage. My Nationality would be American; my Cultural Heritage is French, Cherokee Indian and enough Dutch to make me look like the little Dutchboy.

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter do good
things.” --Edgar Degas

1/2 german
1/4 swedish
1/8 Slov
1/8 Indian (feather not dot)

Also somewhere in there is a dusting of french

Magnificent to behold - Greatly to be praised.