Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How often are you randomly mistaken for another nationality?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26843points) June 14th, 2011

Are you Honduran but are mistaken for Mexican, Swedish but get mistaken right off for German, or Chinese and assumed to be Japanese, or maybe you are from Yemen and are believe out the gate to be Iraqi? Do you find people by your looks quickly pigeon holing you into a nationality you are not because you appear close to them? Should people automatically know or be able to tell? When it happens do you educated them, get annoyed or just ignore it and press on?

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40 Answers

Hibernate's avatar

Well it happened a few times.
I told them they were wrong and I explained though I’m not sure people get these explanation since they continued with the mistake [ maybe it was on purpose .. doesn’t matter ]

I don’t get annoyed most times after explanations I just move on.

FutureMemory's avatar

Great question!

My father is Mexican, but my mother is Anglo, so this happens quite frequently to me. My mother raised me, so I assume I’m more white than latino, from a cultural perspective. Heh, not really sure what that even means. Do white people have “culture”?

I’m often told that I could pass for Italian, which I actually find to be incredibly insulting – not that it’s undesirable to be Italian, of course, but that I would have any desire to “pass” for something other than what I am.

shego's avatar

All the time. My father is white and my mother is black, and I get mistaken as Hispanic, or Middle Eastern, especially during the summer.
Yeah it makes me mad that others make assumptions, but I usually tell them. But I have come across people who insist that I am wrong, and was adopted.
But personally, I believe that I’m just me, and race and nationality have nothing to do with that.

Stinley's avatar

I’m white with mainly Irish ancestry and have dark hair, fair skin, blue eyes. I’m also tall for a woman. When I was in Amsterdam I got mistaken a lot for a native Dutch person and people were speaking to me in Dutch and were very surprised that I didn’t understand – this happened several times and not once for anyone else I was with. I also visited the Alsace region of France which is on the German border and where they have a lot of german tourists and not many from UK and the French people there tended to speak to me in German. I’m sure if I went to Sweden or Norway the same thing would happen.

Scooby's avatar

Never had that……mistaken nationality….. Although as a kid, blond hair & blue eyes I could have easily been mistaken for a German or a Norwegian, maybe Dutch or English……

Jellie's avatar

Yup. Get mistaken for being Turkish or Arab a lot of the time.

lillycoyote's avatar

Pretty much almost never. I’m an American living in America and am about as Anglo-Saxon as they come: blonde, blue-eyed… I am of pure German descent on my mother’s side and maybe a bit of a mongrel on my dad’s side: mostly English-Scotch-Irish with a bit of god knows what else thrown in there. One time I was riding the bus in Portland and this Native American kid, I only call him a kid because well, he was about 16 and I was about 28 and he asked me if I was native american and I told him I came from a long line of blonde, blue-eyed Indians and he smiled and said “Vikings” and we both laughed. Then one time someone told me I looked Estonian. I have no idea what it means to look Estonian but between the two encounters, in spite of my nearly total Anglo-Saxonism there just might be something slightly exotic about the way I look but I have no idea what it might be.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

That happens often enough.Two people have guessed my nationality and that suprised me.
Vunessuh is Swedish.

Vunessuh's avatar

I’m German and Irish from my father and Cherokee from my mother. I’ve had very few people guess I was German and most will guess that I am either Hispanic or Brazilian before Cherokee Indian, especially if I’m really tan in the summertime. I’ve had a few people guess Japanese which was a little odd. lol
And unbeknownst to me, I guess I’m Swedish now.

cookieman's avatar

I’m often mistaken for Jewish despite being (mostly) of Italian descent.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Only once, and it had nothing to do with appearance, but from the accent. A British bloke asked this southern American bird if I was from Australia.

ucme's avatar

I was mistaken for an Italian while on holiday there, but that was only because I was eating a cornetto & singing at the time. “Give it to me!”

dabbler's avatar

Occasionally people ask me what part of France am I from. I grew up in LA…

janbb's avatar

I’‘m Russian Jewish but I get mistaken for Irish at times because of my coloring.

Judi's avatar

I was in Venice and someone started talking to me in German once. Since I’m a garden variety American mutt, that has never happened to me in the US, except as a child I was blond and grew up Lutheran so it was assumed I was probably Norwegan like everyone else at my Church.
My daughter is always thought to be Mexican. Her husbands mother is Mexican but my daughter looks more Hispanic than her husband or her kids.

Jude's avatar

I have a bit of French, German, Scottish, Irish and Welsh in me, but, people swear that I look French. Not sure what “looking French” means.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am often asked what nationality I am because my features are quite dark compared to the average British girl (and especially compared the girls I happen to work/mix with). I have been asked if I am Spanish before (by a Spanish gentleman no less) and in Italy I was often mistaken for a local. As a kid/teenager I hated it, I wanted to be a beautiful English rose, now I embrace it!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was asked , on this site, if I was mixed race. I’m fairly dark, and tolerant.

MilkyWay's avatar

I’m mixed race, Black, White and Indian. People always think I’m middle Eastern because of my tanned skin.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@queenie My apology. I wish I had phrased that better. It came out liked mixed race is bad, That wasn’t my intent. I was just surprised to read that the first time I saw it.

MilkyWay's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Huh? I didn’t take your answer as bad at all, I was just answering the question lol!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@queenie I reread it after your answer, and wished I’d left the tolerant part off. That bothered me.

MilkyWay's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe You’re so sweet, know that? ^-^

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Thanks. I’m just not too bright some times.

gailcalled's avatar

Milo here: Often I am mistaken for a Bengal tiger.

flutherother's avatar

I am Scottish with a little bit of English thrown in but a Latvian mistook me for another Latvian when I was on holiday there.

King_Pariah's avatar

I’m a mix between Korean and what is predominately Scott-Irish descent. I get confused for Mexican, Middle Eastern, English descent, Southern European, and full Asian. I don’t even know how they guess some of these.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My looks are ethnic but hard to pin down so I get assumptions of just about everything you can imagine and it mostly has been a reflection of who I’m with at the time or where I’m at.

I get taken for Chinese, Armenian, Mexican, Spanish, Middle Eastern and French.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’m an American living in America and I look like I could be any one of several western European nationalities—otherwise, just a generic white person. So, while in America, I can’t say I ever have been, say, mistaken for Swedish when I’m really mostly Scottish.

However.. in other countries, yes. And not-so-randomly at work (at a German restaurant/bakery). Because I could be any one of several nationalities, I get mistaken for whatever is at hand. I get told I look German a lot at work.. only have a teeny bit of German heritage. When in Scotland, I was stopped and asked directions a few times (but that makes a lot more sense, considering I’m roughly 75% Scottish). In France, no one could guess my accent, so they thought maybe I was British or Belgian. In Italy, I look pretty obviously American, but I do surprise them with speaking the language.

And so on.

Interesting question, though. :)

downtide's avatar

I have never been mistaken for anything but English.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Amazebyu's avatar

Very often I get mistaken for Armenian. Where I work is a big comunity of Armenians and I am Hispanich with light skin and kind of a big nose.. I think that’s the reason why. Plus I learned to say a few Armenian words so I can pull it off. :)

6rant6's avatar

I feel kind of left out. Whitebread. Dress like a slob. Don’t know one wine from another. No one ever thought I was anything other than American.

Haleth's avatar

Turkish here. People start conversations in Spanish with me all the time, but my Spanish is terrible.

tinyfaery's avatar

No one ever knows what ethnicity I am. I get Jewish, Persian, Armenian, Latino, Portuguese…

keobooks's avatar

I’m mostly German, but I have the features of black Irish (dark hair, fair skin blue eyes) Everyone assumed Russian Jewish when I was growing up. I don’t get that much anymore. Once two drunken frat boys thought I was Chinese. I have no idea why.. I don’t look remotely Asian except that I have very straight hair.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Haleth People think you’re Turkish so they start speaking to you in Spanish???? Somebody is confused here and I don’t know if it’s me, you or the people who speak to you in Spanish because they think you are Turkish…

V_Scofield's avatar

People have mistaken me for British, German, and Jewish. I’m of German, Irish, and Swedish descent and my family has a long history within the Catholic Church (we left it when I was ten). I’ve got super thick, wavy golden brown hair with red highlights, hazel eyes, and pale skin.

The confusion is due to my habits, extensive knowledge of those groups, and obsession with WWII and the Holocaust. Not to mention the fact that I know the French, British, and Israeli national anthems better than my own. I also know the Old Testament a lot better than the New Testament and Moses is my favorite prophet.

Personally, I don’t get annoyed since it’s my own fault. I explain what I am and have a little laugh over it.


I get mistaken for being either Chinese or Japanese which, in either case is not really a mistake I suppose, because I am half Japanese and half Chinese! Lol.

@Hypocrisy_Central Can you believe this, I was once mistaken for being Italian! I was in an Italian delicatessen, and a girl came up to me on my side and asked me something in Italian. Maybe she didn’t see my entire face, only the side, and assumed with my dark hair and “olive skin” that I was just another Italian in a sausage shop. That and the fact I’m taller than most Asian guys.

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