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Joined: August 17, 2010  (email not validated)
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should have written "third generation born in this country". See how easy it is to leave it at the implied level?

JA August 17, 2010, 11:50pm

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Amazing thread. I admit I always thought first generation meant one thing but did occasionally see it used differently, and honestly, just thought it was a misunderstanding.

It seems to me that there is an answer that several writers touched on, but never really developed. Follow me on this:

There are situations in English where words are implied, but left out. Example: "Close the door." (Implies YOU shut the door, but YOU is implied.)

Thus, first generation American is implying something- either first generation American citizen or first generation born in America. In my family, the second one was the term meant (and often actually voiced, as in "you are third generation American" (great grandparents immigrated from Germany and my grandmother born in America).

However if you mean "citizen" then the other definition obviously applies. Interestingly, it appears that different cultures or languages may influence which implied meaning is felt to be correct. An example is the Japanese words and concepts explained early on, vs. the Greek understanding of the opposite meaning.

And yes, language is fun....

JA August 17, 2010, 11:46pm

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