So last night, I was enjoying a friendly Twitter argument with @ScientistMother and @27andaphd about Tim Hortons commercials. During the course of our conversation, it transpired that both ScientistMother (born in Canada to foreign-born parents) and I (born in the UK, moved to Canada in my 20s) think that we’re first-generation immigrants: I think she’s second-generation, and she thinks I’m a New Canadian and am not assigned a generation number.
Convinced that I was correct, I headed self-righteously to Wikipedia – where, instead of the unambivalent validation I was expecting, I found the following:
“The term first-generation, as it pertains to a person’s nationality or residency in a country, can imply two possible meanings, depending on context:
- A foreign born citizen or resident who has immigrated and been naturalized in a new country of residence.
- A naturally born citizen or resident of a country whose parents obey the previous definition, or
- …designating a member of the first (or second, etc.) generation of a family to do something or live somewhere; spec. designating a naturalized immigrant or a descendant of immigrant parents, esp. in the United States…. (OED definition of “generation,” section 6b., emphasis added)b
In the United States, among demographers and other social scientists, the term “first generation” is used to refer to foreign-born residents (excluding those born abroad of U.S. parents).
There is not a universal consensus on which of these meanings is always implied”.
WHAT THE HELL??!!
How can this have been allowed to happen?! My logical science brain just can’t cope with this! (And ScientistMother agrees!)
This makes determining what generation my parents would be if they moved here to join me even trickier than before! (But no less hypothetical, unfortunately).
Oh well – ScientistMother and I have agreed to share first place, which is nicely Canadian if nothing else. However, we still disagree about those Tim Hortons commercials: I’m Team Airport Dad, and she’s Team Hockey Granddad.
Must be a generational thing…