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Thread: birth order

  1. #1
    NearThere is offline Member
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    Default birth order

    In Chinese, it's quite common to ask about "birth order" when getting acquainted with someone. A direct translation: What's your position in the line (as in bloodline) to which the answer could be as an example: I'm the 2nd child of 5 children.

    In English, how do you make an inquiry like that without recieving a wierd look. This is how I asked:

    "What's your birth order?"

    Thanks
    NT

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: birth order

    Do you have any brothers or sisters? would be quite acceptable. It is likely to receive an answer such as I have two older brothers and a younger sister. You know from the answer where the person is in their family.

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    Default Re: birth order

    Quote Originally Posted by NearThere View Post
    In Chinese, it's quite common to ask about "birth order" when getting acquainted with someone. A direct translation: What's your position in the line (as in bloodline) to which the answer could be as an example: I'm the 2nd child of 5 children.

    In English, how do you make an inquiry like that without recieving a wierd look. This is what I asked:

    "What's your birth order?"

    Thanks
    NT
    'Are you the youngest in your family ?' is a polite way of asking for more information. If they respond with a blunt 'no', you must decide whether you want to pursue the matter.

  4. #4
    NearThere is offline Member
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    Default Re: birth order

    Thanks to Angelika and Formatto.

    So there's not a way to ask a question to exclusively obtain the "birth order" information in a polite way? I'm curious. It must be cultural thing.

    NT

  5. #5
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: birth order

    It is a cultural thing. Position within family order is not regarded as particularly important in the West, except for the first son, and certainly it is not a question we would normally ask.

  6. #6
    peter123 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: birth order

    Hi there,
    How about introducing ourselves?
    Can I say like this?

    I am the third child or son in my family.

    Thanks
    pete

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    Default Re: birth order

    The listener would think, why on earth is he telling me that?!

  8. #8
    NearThere is offline Member
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    Default Re: birth order

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    The listener would think, why on earth is he telling me that?!
    Often times on the forum I find myself laughing, this is one of those times. But I think this warrants a little bit of explanation, otherwise people would think we Chinese are all freaks.

    The birth order inquiry really is just a way to understand what the other person is like. As in western culture one asks what the other person's favorite food, or color ect. to gather information to better understand that person's personality. We ask about birth order because it illustrates certain ideas of personality traits or tendencies to us. Crap, you say. Maybe, but sometimes it works.

    If a person is first-born. The stereotypes are: he/she is customed to being in charge. He/she is probably quite disciplined, well-behaved, etc... The stigma (am I using the word right?) would be: do he/she have "control" issue? a control freak? unflexible? domineering?

    If a person is the youngest: For a girl, then you watch out. She's a high-maintnanced devia in disguise, has the potential to turn your world into a living hell.... For a boy, then you think he's easy to manipulate or boss around......

    If a person is a middle chid who tends to be accusmed to adapting to situations then you say to yourself this person has a lot of potential to a good friendship or any relationship............

    The ideas given are just little glimps of what we have in the frame of assessment or judegements on people we associate with or make friends with according to thier birth order. Useful tool or not I can't say, but it's a part of a process of getting aquainted with others.

    Nevertheless, it is odd for Westerners to comprehend. If you think the question is wierd, get ready with this one and I assure you it's very common: What's your blood type?

    NT

  9. #9
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: birth order

    I don't know - in none of my dealings with doctors and hospitals have they ever considered it necessary to find out or to tell me

  10. #10
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    Default Re: birth order

    Please tell me the psychology associated with 'an only child'.

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