His white and Mexican mother and Native American and African-American father’s marriage

Paris Lady

Senior Member
France (Paris)/French
Here is my sentence:

"His brother and parents are now deceased and long ago his white and Mexican mother and Native American and African-American father’s marriage estranged them from their families."

This sentence looks and sounds very heavy to me. I'm sure it could be a lot better. However, I cannot simply use "interracial" as I need to be specific on the parents' ethnicity.


Any ideas?
Thanks!
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    We don't do proofreading here and I'm not quite sure whether this is a request for proofreading or not. I'm going to stick my neck out and say that it' s a word usage issue, but I'm welcoming any moderator to correct me if I'm wrong.

    One way to reword it would be:

    "His brother and parents are now deceased and the marriage of his mother, half white and half Mexican, to his father, half Native American and half African-American, had estranged them from their families long ago."
     

    jianadaren

    Member
    English - Canadian
    Or: ""His brother and parents are now deceased and, long ago, the marriage between his white and Mexican mother and his Native American and African-American father had estranged them from their families."
     

    jianadaren

    Member
    English - Canadian
    I have decided that my original inclination which was to post here was correct. The original sentence is:

    "His brother and parents are now deceased and long ago his white and Mexican mother and Native American and African-American father’s marriage estranged them from their families."

    Are the mother's parents American? If so, wouldn't the mother be "half white-American (or half European-American, perhaps) and half Mexican-American" rather than just "half white and half Mexican"?

    How best to phrase this would, of course, depend on the meaning which isn't clear to me.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The original seems fine to me. The mother would be half-WASP*, half-Mexican; the father would be half-native American, half African-American.

    *White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
     

    jianadaren

    Member
    English - Canadian
    The sentence implies, then, that the mother's parents were of unknown "white" and Mexican origin, but were not Americans. The reader must assume that's true, it seems to me. What other reason could there be for not appending -American to their descriptions?
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    The sentence implies, then, that the mother's parents were of unknown "white" and Mexican origin, but were not Americans. The reader must assume that's true, it seems to me. What other reason could there be for not appending -American to their descriptions?
    Quite simply because, unfortunately or not, it is not idiomatic in the US to append "American" to "white". It is just assumed. On the other hand, "Native American" and "African-American" are idiomatic usages. No logic; that's just the way it is.
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Okay, I'll chalk it up as one of the inadequacies of English, but it would still be usual to say Mexican-American, wouldn't it?
    Only if she was Mexican-American; not if she was a Mexican national. I don't know which is the case here.

    I have also heard Mexican-Americans referred to simply as "Mexicans", but my (undocumented) impression is that people who do that would not use terms like "Native American" and "African-American". I don't want to pull us off topic, however.
     

    jianadaren

    Member
    English - Canadian
    Actually, Caucasian-American or European-American, or even Australian-American would work. Not usual, but idiomatic.

    If this were my sentence, I'd be inclined to say, "His brother and parents are now deceased, and long ago the marriage of his white and Mexican mother and his father, who was of Native and African ancestry, estranged them from their families."

    Not perfect but what else? If anyone does need to be identified as American that could probably be made clear by the context. If not, I suppose this might work: "His brother and parents are now deceased and long ago the marriage of his white and Mexican mother (all Americans) and his Native American and African-American father estranged them from their families." A bit awkward but better than assuming that "white-American" is redundant.
     

    jianadaren

    Member
    English - Canadian
    Not really off topic, since the op said, "However, I cannot simply use "interracial" as I need to be specific on the parents' ethnicity." Perhaps she needs to be specific only on the father's ethnicity.

    Okay, I'll shut up, now.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    It may depend who the audience is, if international, US or what. I would have understood her mother was a very white Mexican. That is, I've realised I had not understood the meaning as it is expressed. I would have needed to know which nationality the "white" part refers to.
     

    teksch

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I would opt for the word "Anglo" instead of "white" as many Mexicans (Mexican-Americans and Mexican nationals) consider themselves to be white. Anglo is the term that Mexicans use when referring to people living in the U.S.
     
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