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Fermanagh's avatar

Timid Streaker

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So you're saying that being able to successfully play around with semantics in order to put your petty thoughts above someone else's displays your intelligence.


As far as proper use of language is concerned, yes.

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Do you really think that when i say a girl is mexican i must inherently mean something that i didn't imply because of the literary context?


Not inherently, but possibly. You're seriously misunderstanding me.

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Do you ever talk to people?


What kind of question is that? Of course I talk to people. I talk to people every day.
xiiie's avatar

Lonely Genius

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Good point. I must admit that I have observed an interesting thing in my country - when someone is of Asian descent and looks Asian, everyone jumps in and calls them Chinese most of the time. I do not understand this one bit, but it happens almost all the time.
Fermanagh's avatar

Timid Streaker

xiiie
Good point. I must admit that I have observed an interesting thing in my country - when someone is of Asian descent and looks Asian, everyone jumps in and calls them Chinese most of the time. I do not understand this one bit, but it happens almost all the time.

That's another great example; it slipped my mind. sweatdrop

Also, when you label someone as Asian because they are likely either Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, said person could also be Russian because Russia is technically part of Asia. The connotations of "Asian" are pretty solid, but still...all the more reason to replace "Asian" with "Oriental".
Heimdalr
We Do Not Kneel
i get mistaken for being a slav

but i am really scandinavian

I'm scandinavian and always thought you're a slav

you never even seen me
Pseudo-Onkelos
Fermanagh
Pseudo-Onkelos
I was under the assumption that "Mexican" is a nationality, not an ethnicity. Same with "American".

It's both. Just like the Scottish and the Irish; both nationalities, and both ethnicities. America, too, is a nationality as well as an ethnicity. The tricky part with America, however, is that the ethnic aspect to Americans is commonly known to be a hybridization of other ethnicities.


Citation needed.


I think a good example is that large portions of America celebrate both St. Patrick's Day - the Catholic day of sanctification for the saint believed to "drive all the snakes from Ireland" - and Cinco De Mayo, Mexico's Independence Day (the 5'th of May, their equivalent of our 4'th of July). You don't get people who celebrate both of those things without cultural/ethnic mixing.

To the topic, I'd say that America is probably one of the worst nations in the world to try to identify someone's ethnicity just by looking at them. In other, more historically homogenous countries, it'd be easier. Another well-mixed nation, ethnically, would be Brazil, which is apparently another big immigrant nation like the US.

Basically, I'd describe the accuracy of trying to identify someone's ethnicity visually as being inversely proportional to the amount and diversity of immigration the nation has historically had.
Heimdalr's avatar

Mega Noob

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Heimdalr
We Do Not Kneel
i get mistaken for being a slav

but i am really scandinavian

I'm scandinavian and always thought you're a slav

you never even seen me

Just got a Serbian feel to you. The imposition of beliefs and all that.
Fermanagh
Many people almost always seem to identify someone's ethnicity based on their looks, which usually is an accurate way to do so, but sometimes it's only semi-accurate, if you grant it that there is such a thing when it comes to ethnicity.


It's horribly inaccurate. Or do you mean race? Race and ethnicity are different things.
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First of all, even if that person is indeed of Mexican descent, that doesn't necessarily mean that that person is a Mexican National, which is what the word "Mexican" implies, just as the words "American", "Russian", "Irish", "Canadian", "British", and "Australian" and so forth do.


Russian and Irish do not just mean "national". Are you completely unaware of there being a Russian and Irish ethnic groups?
Even someone who comes from a non-nation state like Mexico or the US still has with some identity of being those nationalities, so it's not really incorrect to use if they're nationals of other countries.

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Even if someone says "Mexican" with the intention of refering to a person as being of Mexican descent, and not necessarily being a Mexican National, why don't they just say "Mexican-American"?


Because that's unwieldly and the assumed same exact meaning of saying they're Mexican. People don't talk like that in basic conversation.
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Second of all - these identifications being based on looks alone - said person may not even be Mexican; they could be Brazilian, or Puerto Rican, or Cuban, or Ecuadorian, or Columbian, or of some other similar ethnic background.


None of those are ethnicities, and the racial makeup of those countries varies from one to the other.
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Also, what about surnames? Can people even recognize the respective ethnic origins of surnames anymore?


Yes, this one is pretty poor to use as an example.
Granted people themselves might not be good at identifying where a surname comes from (I've known people to confuse Italian and Spanish surnames with regularity). But the surname itself does have an exact origin that with some research anyone could pinpoint.
I'm not sure you comprehend how people get their surnames to begin with.
You aren't just randomly born with say a Russian surname without there being a reason for it, mostly likely being that they have some paternal Russian ancestry.
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To some extent, most likely, but do people know how to recognize a Jewish person, or an English person, etc.?


Jewish surnames can be pretty obvious, sometimes extremely obvious. Though Ashkenazi Yiddish style names can sound German.
English ones are easy too, the problem with English ones is they're so common we don't even take notice of them as ethnic names. But that's ignorance, not truth.
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Can people tell the difference between a Scottish surname and an Irish surname (even though a few are shared with origins too deep for common knowledge)? Etc. Etc.


Absolutely. This is a pretty ignorant if offensive thing to suggest. The difference between the two can get you hurt still in Northern Ireland (the Catholics being ethnic Irish, and the Protestants being largely descended from Scottish settlers).
I have in my ancestry an Irish surname, it goes back to specify an exact region that an Irish clan used to control around County Cavan.
I invite you to see how such a thing could be indistinguishable from any given Scottish name (hint: it can't).
Fermanagh
Pseudo-Onkelos
I was under the assumption that "Mexican" is a nationality, not an ethnicity. Same with "American".

It's both. Just like the Scottish and the Irish; both nationalities, and both ethnicities.


Mexican and American are assuredly not ethnicities. They are states comprised of mixed ethnic history that has not created a new ethnic group.

Irish and Scottish are ethnicities first. And Ireland is only also a nationality as of 1922 when Ireland became it's own country. Scotland is not a nationality (arguably within the UK maybe) until possibly 2014.
Lychee Bae's avatar

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I don't feel offended when people ask my background or guess wrong about what I am. If you grow up in a place with only a certain ethnicity... you aren't familiar with many others. (Or maybe I don't mind because I am mixed.)

America is like a salad bowl or a melting pot, yes, but people tend to stay with people who are similar to them because it is "safer" or "comfortable".

I am half Chinese...however I don't always feel comfortable with other Chinese people...or Asians in general sometimes. This is because I am Americanized of course...surrounded by other kinds of people. I look Asian with a last name that is European...I don't expect people to have any idea besides me being Asian.

Anyways...I don't think this is just about ethnicity...it is about history and who is ...in a sense "better".
FlySammyJ's avatar

Liberal Dabbler

Leek Joyowza
Mexican and American are assuredly not ethnicities. They are states comprised of mixed ethnic history that has not created a new ethnic group.


I consider myself to me ethnically American. I have ancestors on both sides of my family who were "transported" to American penal colonies (ie, they were debtors and whores who were shipped here.) Their descendants went to Arkansas when it was still a territory, and my mother's family still owns that homestead. Over generations they mingled genes with all sorts of Europeans as well as a few Choctaw and Chickasaw. My father's family is equally diverse with a lot of Polish blood and a dash of Latino. The single largest components of my genetic and cultural makeup are English and Polish (and really French via the Creole cultural influence that's come up the river), but I am certainly neither English nor Polish ethnically. We have our own dialect, cuisine, and stories distinct from those of our mother nations. I belong to the culture of the upper Mississippi Delta.

::Edited - added a detail
I understand your point. Some people are just ignorance.
Actually not a lot of people know the difference between ethnicity or nationality.
I'm Asian, which is my ethnicity or race. However, I am Vietnamese which is my nationality.
When I was in middle school someone said I was a liar because they said first I said I was Asian then I said I was Vietnamese. Like wtf!?! Are you serious. Human beings are just ignorance period.
America is a very diverse place. People would like to ask me where I'm from... I would reply Washington D.C. I was born in America. Again as usual they would call me a liar =.= Just because I look different doesn't mean I come from some place else. *sigh*
Just the world we live in. Got to live with it.
Desideraht's avatar

Dapper Phantom

What they mean to say is that person is Latino, which is ethnic, not Mexican, which is a nationality.

I generally don't give a person's race/ethnicity when describing them. This often leads to people saying "WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST SAY HE WAS BLACK?" I tend to reply, "Because I think there are more recognizable/valuable traits to him than his skin colour."
geminikitten's avatar

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Usually it gives some indication though in many parts of the world, it is the most defining factor of a certain group of people.
Having defining features of an ethnic group is a cause for a community and to not be part of that group can easily get you in trouble.

Some people are extremely misleading though like me. I have a German full name, I am Asian in appearance by Australian by birth. I've met people with my situation often.

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