General Question

antimatter's avatar

How do you explain where your ancesters come from?

Asked by antimatter (3796 points ) December 13th, 2013

On my mother’s side her grandmother are from Cork in Ireland and her grandfather are from Cornwall in Britain.
On my father’s side both my grandparents are from France.
I tried to explain to a person that my ancestry are from France because when someone refers to his or her ancestors you normally refer to the ancestors from your father’s side and not your mother’s side. But than this person disagreed and said it’s the mother’s side one should refer to a person’s ancestry.

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33 Answers

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Different societies have different standards as to whether to use the matrilinear or patrilinear genealogy.

My father’s parents came from what is now Slovenia, although my last name seems to be Croatian. My mother’s parents came from Ireland. I consider myself of both Irish and Slovene ancestry.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
keobooks's avatar

My dad’s mother was a war refugee from Silesia (then Germany, now Poland) and everyone else are standard American mutts from all over the place. I usually say German because it’s quick and easy to explain. Also, I still have living relatives, rather than just ancestors there.

Kropotkin's avatar

Your ancestors are from both sides of your family. You’ve already literally answered your own question and explained your recent ancestry in the first two sentences.

kounoupi's avatar

I think the fairest way to describe ancestry is to refer to both parents.

edit: @Kropotkin types faster:-)

DWW25921's avatar

Moms Side;
Grandpa French Canadian
Grandma Scottish

Dads Side;
Grandpa English
Grandma Dutch

janbb's avatar

Both os my sides are Russian Jewish so there is no issues but I would always include both in any case.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Hiberno-Norse on my father’s side. Anglo-Saxon on my mother’s.

Rarebear's avatar

Half Ashkenazi Jew and half Finnish.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
ccrow's avatar

I would include both sides, but they’re the same for me, anyway.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Maternal Grandmother: Cherokee, Anglo-Saxon
Maternal Grandfather: Scandinavian, Welsh

Paternal Grandmother: German, Ashkenazim
Paternal Grandfather: Irish, Anglo-Saxon

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@antimatter You understand that in some cultures it is the mother’s side of the family that determines the heritage, like Jewish culture.
Mutt or mongrel with Scottish, French, English, Swiss, German, Irish and Passamaquoddy ( Native American in Maine ).

CWOTUS's avatar

They came from Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s not so hard to explain.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Tropical_Willie's avatar

@CWOTUS OKAY so is it Auburn or Millbury ? ? ?

kritiper's avatar

I try to explain where both sides came from. Dad’s side came from southern Scotland in about 1680, settled in Virginia. (Tobacco growers, I think.) Mom’s side came from Cork County, Ireland in about 1890, landed in LA and settled in Boise, Id. Some Cherokee blood from Dad’s mom.

dabbler's avatar

Mother’s side: Mestizo, one great-grandparent was pure Aztec.
Grandparents met and married in Mexico and had two of their children there before the civil war. They fled the war in Mexico and settled in the U.S They had two more children in the U.S. including my mom.

Father’s side: European immigrants to the U.S. going back to the 1600’s.
Grandparents met and married on the West Coast, one had moved from the midwest and the other from the South. Each side had been several generations in the U.S.

CWOTUS's avatar

No, @Tropical_Willie, it was Worcester proper. Burncoat St. and Coventry Rd., if that helps.

Seek's avatar

My brother is waiting for the results of the 23 and Me study that @madmadmax is about to tell you about. ^_^

I’ll let you know what I am then.

zenvelo's avatar

My dad was Scottish, my mom is Mexican. Both are first generation Californians.

That’s how I describe it. Whoever came up with father’s side mother’s side is making up rules as they go along.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I always give both sides.

MadMadMax's avatar

Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 31 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family.

The results reflect where your ancestors lived only 500 YEARS AGO,
before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.

Overall 99.8% European

Northern European:

26.5% British & Irish (Maternal – I’m pretty sure this is my mother’s father who was from Ireland so she was half Irish/British and I would be a quarter)

7.0% Scandinavian (Maternal)

2.8% French & German
Connected to the British Isles, Scandinavia, southern Europe and eastern Europe, France and Germany have seen myriad peoples come and go over the last ten thousand years. Genetically and geographically the French and Germans are at the heart of Europe.

1.1% Finnish (could be either)
Finland has been occupied continuously since the end of the last ice age. Despite their proximity to Scandinavia, many Finns speak a language more closely related to Hungarian than to most Scandinavian languages, which have similarities to English and German.

19.7% Nonspecific Northern European

17.3% Eastern European (Paternal)
Eastern Europe, represented by people of Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Hungary, is bordered on the east by the Ural Mountains. Although there are no such geographic borders to the west, eastern Europe has been distinct from European countries to the west in terms of cultural and linguistic affiliations.

12.7% Ashkenazi (Patenal – my father’s mother was at least 50% Jewish)
DNA shows clearly the connections among those who consider themselves to be Ashkenazi Jewish: two Ashkenazi Jewish people are very likely to be “genetic cousins”, sharing long stretches of identical DNA. This sharing reflects the close knit nature of this population.

Southern European
Southern Europe, including the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas as well as the island of Sardinia, is a region defined in great part by the Mediterranean Sea. This could be a Sephardic connection. Sephardic ancestors lived in Spain or Portugal, where they lived for as much as two millennia before being expelled in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs

0.2% Nonspecific Southern European

12.6% Nonspecific European

0.2% South Asian (?)
south Asia is represented here by populations of India and Pakistan. Scientists believe that when modern humans first left Africa they traveled along the coast of southern Asia, reaching South Asia very early. During the last few thousand years South Asia has been influenced by both Europe and eastern Asia.

Population Source Sample Size
India 23andMe 536
Pakistan 23andMe 36
Sri Lanka 23andMe 21
Bangladesh 23andMe 15
Nepal 23andMe 4
Afghanistan 23andMe 3

Population Source Sample Size Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP)
Balochi HGDP 25
Brahui HGDP 25
Burusho HGDP 25
Kalash HGDP 25
Makrani HGDP 25
Sindhi HGDP 25
Hazara HGDP 24
Pathan HGDP 23
Uygur HGDP 10

Both my parents are deceased. If they had taken this DNA test, I could have known for sure which of them belonged to each group.

I was told my mother was Swedish and Irish.

I was told that my father was Polish and German (his mother’s Jewish ancestry was a well kept secret. Many Jewish people converted to Catholicism and families in Europe to this day will not admit to any Jewish heritage, they are still taught to protect themselves and their children by denying any association. They freak out and deny these DNA tests).

dxs's avatar

If you don’t talk about one of your parent’s side if they differ, then you’re concealing information from people. I have two different ancestries, and if people ask, then I tell them everything, not just one.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@dxs “If you don’t talk about one of your parent’s side if they differ, then you’re concealing information from people.”

It’s not really a big deal. You’re not obligated to tell people in the first place.

dxs's avatar

@Darth_Algar Of course, but you’re still concealing information either way…
You’re not obligated to tell anyone anything, so if you don’t want to tell anyone anything, then don’t. But you’re still concealing information.
And I never made it a big deal, I was just stating that as a means to explain my reasoning if I were to explain my ancestry (or not) with someone. I personally have no problem telling people my ancestry since I take pride in it. If you are self-conscious about it, then that is for you to deal with accordingly.

Darth_Algar's avatar

You say “concealing information” like in a negative context, like you’re doing something bad by not telling someone your ancestry.

And where did I say anything about being self-conscious about ancestry?

hearkat's avatar

My mother immigrated to the US from Switzerland; my father’s family immigrated to the New World in pre-Revolutionary times.

Smitha's avatar

South Indians.(Parents,Grandparents and Great Grandparents)

dxs's avatar

@Darth_Algar The question asks if you should talk about your mother’s or your father’s side, and I said that if you only say one side, then you’re concealing information.
Is it the words you don’t like? Do they not strike your fancy? You can choose other related words if you want. Here’s a website to help you: thesaurus.com
The only reason I can think of for not telling someone your ancestry when they ask (other than being a jerk) is because of self-consciousness, so that’s why I said that. I wasn’t directly talking about you when I said “you”. It’s an English language thing.

MadMadMax's avatar

@dxs My parents were purposefully concealing information from us, not telling us who we were in order to hide it the woodpile. That is a definite fact when it comes to my Paternal grandmother’s Jewish roots ( she was undoubtedly raised in a secular environment which was common for highly educated Jews during the late 19th century in an area of Poland that was ruled at the time by the Czar and was considered part of Russia. I have no doubt they were Marxist sympathizers but left in 1906. But she lost a piece of herself – a cultural identity along the way and then felt pressure to hide it from her kids or tell them to keep it a dirty little secret).

That was not right. My family was clearly, outspokenly antisemitic—a philosophy my siblings inherited. Now they have to accept they themselves are part Jewish. And that angers my brother in particular and isolates us today.

I do believe my Mom’s father was Irish, but there is no way her maternal side was pure Swedish which was her pride and joy. I don’t think she knew there was any doubt but somebody back there was not Swedish. (she even disliked Norwegians as they were want to do) so again there was a failure to communicate someone’s heritage.

I do think both sides were wrong to mislead their kids.

Not only that but my father’s family shortened their name which was a long Polish extravaganza – 11 letters long—and I found out that my cousins kids were raised thinking that shortened name meant they were Irish and celebrate St. Patty’s day and wear the green.

So how do we know what the heck we are really?

A friend of mine was super proud of being French descent. This DNA thing proved she was a large part British and a large part Native American. No French at all. This lady studied in France, learned the language fluently, taught her kids to speak French at the table, and passed on holiday traditions and French foods.

It all comes from a failure to communicate with children at some point in one’s history.

I don’t even remember my father having said anything at all – I have no memory of chatting with him or even a special event we shared together. It makes you think. We get so initially excited by the birth of a child. We cuddle and star at them in awe and then as they grow, a lot of parents simply become bored or annoyed with growing kids and finally can’t accept that they need to make their own decisions in life. They think they own them like property. I’ve seen it over and over. My parents disowned me entirely for marrying a Jewish guy.

dxs's avatar

@MadMadMax Definitely! It sounds like they concealed information due to self-consciousness. I’d be so mind-blown if I found out that my heritage isn’t what I thought it was. But I’m the first of my mom’s generation here in America, so I have no doubts on that side…My grandparents have a thick accent.

MadMadMax's avatar

@dxs Your family members, ancestors probably came from all over the place.

Both my Paternal grandparents spoke Polish, German, Russian and English and maybe more for all I know.

You can’t have any idea where you come from over centuries unless to do a DNA test and everyone I know has had surprises. I am so glad my son bought us the DNA studies so he could better understand his own ancestry from his DNA study.

His Mexican American wife had one done and she expected the origins that point out Native Americans and Spanish from the Conquistadors. Nope she’s got a smithing of Italian and even Ashkenazi in her. One of those Conquistadors may have come from a family who was hiding their Jewish origins – there were so many.

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