birth order

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NearThere

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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
 

Anglika

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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.
 

fromatto

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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.
 

NearThere

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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
 

Anglika

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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.
 

peter123

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

I am the third child or son in my family.

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pete
 

NearThere

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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?:shock:

NT
 

Anglika

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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:shock:
 

light

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nearthere raised an important question actually. in english there is no single wh-question to ask order. of course there is which but not the same. for ex., in turkish we have kaçıncı for order along with hangi (which)

so if the answer is "Anne Boleyn was his second wife," with the stress on second, what is the question?

who was Anne Boleyn? or was she his third wife? can make it quite clear for the speakers, but still doesn't replace the missing question word. I wonder if such a question word exist in german or french?
 

Ouisch

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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?


I happened to be watching some show about child development on TV a while ago, and a psychologist was discussing this, saying that first-born female children are often happier if they marry a third-born male. She's used to taking charge, he's used to being babied. That sort of logic. But what if a family has five or six or more children? Do all except the first and last count as "middle children"?

In any case, asking someone if they have any brothers or sisters is usually the best way to inquire about birth order. The person answering will almost always reply by including the birth order: "Yes, I have two younger brothers" or ""I'm the second out of four kids."

And my blood type is A-positive; guess that means I got an A+ on my blood test, eh? ;-)
 

David L.

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Thank you for that insight into the Chinese view of human relations!
All things considered, I would prefer being asked about my position in brith order than my starsign. But just as I don't believe I resemble what people tell me I am like from that..well, I wonder if the personality typology of birth order translates into Western culture? I say that, because I'm the thrid of three brothers - the last born - but nobody bosses me around! lol:);-):lol:
 
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NearThere

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Wow, I am flattered my explanation has raised such interests. I'll try to answer as best I can to each question. So you guys don't think we Chinese are that wierd anymore asking about the birth order right?

I have to first verify that there is no scientific study or research to back it up, and we usually use it as a evaluation tool on the person in terms of friendship or romantic relationship and the prospect of it. It's no more accurate than asking about favorite past-time activity. Anyway, I'll start with the easier one to answer.

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

This is kind of a wild card. It could go one way or the other on the spectrum (am i using this word right?) for apart from the influence of the parents' rearing style, the only child is raised in the most "unconditioned" enviorment, free from the influence of siblings. So one could be a spoiled, self-serving brat while the other too eager to please to gain friendship because he/she's been lonely growing up. Or one could grow up to be somewhat of a delinquent in social skills while other only-child could come across obnocious and loud or a social butterfly, so it heavily depends on the child natural deposition. I hope I'm making sense.

But what if a family has five or six or more children? Do all except the first and last count as "middle children"?

Kind of. We just kind of adjust the indicator on the scale (I'm not sure what I'm talking about in terms of vocabulary. :cry: I know, but I'm trying my best people!). Just bear with me and you'll understand. Let's picture a lineage line with first-born on the far left representing the extreme domineering/controling traite and the youngest on the far left indicating a care-free, optimistic, ect. personality. So it's just a matter of placing or moving the ^ (a mark usually seen on a scale) on the scale according to the number of children in the person's family and his/her birth order. I have to again verify this is no hard measurement on people's personality for there are other factors such as genders, environments and the built-in personality that came with us at birth that cause variants.


Ouisch: And my blood type is A-positive; guess that means I got an A+ on my blood test, eh? ;-)

Angelika: 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:shock:

David: All things considered, I would prefer being asked about my position in brith order than my starsign

Yes! it is kind of like asking about your starsign (horoscope?) only in a more graphic and obnoxious way. "What's your bloodtype?" what's up with that?

I remember the first time I asked this question to an American, he acted so incredulous that I wondered if I had asked to borrow money from him. I wouldn't be surprised if he suspected that I needed a blood transfusion. Anyway, as with birth order, this has no hard scientific evidence and I don't know how it started. We just knew what our blood types are and what each bloodtype reprents, and here they are:

Type A: sincere, gentle, considerate, loyal, worry-prone, self-righteous, secretly judgemental.........

Type B: calm, peaceful, easy-going, family-oriented, unmotivated, undriven...

Type AB: fun-loving, loud, trusting, care-free, easily happy, obnoxious, disorganized, irrepsonsible..........

Type O: domineering, intimidating, controling, fast-pacing, driven, inpatient, insensitive............

There're a whole long list to each type, I just listed the core traits. Like I said I don't know how it started. I used to think the whole world used this method and the method is widespread but little did I know.:-(


So anyway, like Light said, there isn't a question word in English to get the position in birth order right? I still think there could have been though, if the native speakers ancestors had been introduced to such theory, they would have come up with the question word, right?

NT
 

riverkid

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So anyway, like Light said, there isn't a question word in English to get the position in birth order right? I still think there could have been though, if the native speakers ancestors had been introduced to such theory, they would have come up with the question word, right?

NT

That's right, NT. Whatever is culturally important gets more royal treatment in the language.

Where do you sit in your family?/in the birth order?/etc

There are already some of course, when and if the issue is raised;

Are you the baby/the youngest/the oldest?
 

NearThere

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That's right, NT. Whatever is culturally important gets more royal treatment in the language.

Where do you sit in your family?/in the birth order?/etc

There are already some of course, when and if the issue is raised;

Are you the baby/the youngest/the oldest?

I am the 4th of the 5 children.

Core personality is Type A, but have acquired type O, and supressed type AB. I think.
NT
 

riverkid

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I am the 4th of the 5 children.


I am the 4th of [the] 5 children.


Core personality is Type A, but have acquired type O, and supressed type AB. I think.
NT

I wasn't actually asking you those specific questions, NT, but I'm happy you have replied, nevertheless.

I actually don't even know my blood type. I'm sure I've been told but it, like many other things have escaped memory.
 
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