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"Germans", "French people" etc - ethnicity vs nationality

A request for comment has been closed at Talk:Germans relating to this. --TheSandDoctor Talk 18:10, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

This topic has been broached a couple of times before, but not recently as far as I can tell and I'd like to see what people think. Many pages, such as Germans, French people, Dutch people etc, describe solely the ethnicity those terms refer to, and thereby omit huge portions of these countries' populations. I'm not, of course, against covering these ethnic groups in principle - but I think most people would agree "French people" commonly refers to French citizens, or more inclusively "people living in France", not just people who have some specific DNA profile. For example, the page Germans currently says that there are 62 million Germans living in Germany (out of a population of 82 million). It is patently absurd, and downright problematic, to suggest that the other 20 million people are not German. The pages of "traditional" multiethnic societies, like British people, Americans and Brazilians, are much more inclusive (and, I would argue, more correct):

I realize there's an ambiguity here, since Germans refers to both an ethnic group and a nationality, and there's no need to expunge any mention of the ethnic dimension. But many of these countries are now multiethnic societies in their own right much like the US and Brazil (and even that's only if you omit indigenous peoples!), even if they weren't founded as such. There are two obvious ways of dealing with this ambiguity: (1) make the articles Germans, French people, etc. more inclusive (maybe modeled after the examples above) and treat ethnicity within those articles or, more invasively, (2) split ethnicity and nationality into two separate articles. I think the structures of the articles would be able to absorb option 1 with only minor tweaking.
I do hope I'm not stepping on any toes, or retracing up a well-worn debate (I searched through the archives and only found a few scattered remarks on this topic). --Tserton (talk) 04:58, 10 November 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing out that serious problem. I am German both by nationality and ethnicity. I guess that nearly every German with some awareness to the problem would call the lede of Germans "outright racist". The corresponding German article, de:Deutsche, starts with the statement that the word has multiple meanings, which I think would be a much better solution than two separate articles. In daily and media use, expressions like "the Germans in America" exist, but in contexts related to Germany, a "German" is a "German citizen", which is also the legal definition. The census does not ask for ethnicity. If you want to express ethnicity you have to say something like "German without a migration background". --Rsk6400 (talk) 07:51, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
I agree with Rsk6400, the current lede of Germans is far from ideal. It solely focusses on the ethnic definition of "Germans", and conflates ethnicity with descent ("who share a common German ancestry"). In common parlance, "Germans" may either refer to the citizens of Germany, or to ethnic Germans in a cultural sense. In Germany itself, these terms always have been fluid. Members of minority communities can self-identify as "German" not just in the sense of being German citizens, but also as culturally German. This option is available for traditional regional minorities (Sorbs, Danes; pre-WWII also Poles and Lithuanians), traditional supraregional minorities (Jews, Roma), and post-WWII immigrant minorities.
Btw, the lede of Austrians betrays a concept quite similar to the one in Germans. –Austronesier (talk) 10:01, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
My solution of choice for this problem would be to delete all the X people articles, except in those cases where there is no alternative page to accommodate the contents. Of course I know that's not possible in practice. Another solution would be to have some sort of WP guideline list specifically for this kind of pages; for example, all of them should clearly explain the potential ambiguity of who is part of X people and who isn't. --Jotamar (talk) 21:17, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
I'm also not a huge fan of those articles: most of them are just reworded outtakes of their respective country pages with sections on history, demographics, language and a list of notable people. But they do have some interesting content, like the emergence of a common German identity out of the collection of principalities the country was formed from. I think there's room in the scope of those pages to broaden them to resemble the style used for Americans, Australians etc. Given the passions that these topics often arouse in people, it would be good to tread carefully and with a broad base of consensus, though. In the long-term, setting up a WP guideline seems like a good idea, but also a pretty big undertaking - does anyone here have experience doing that? --Tserton (talk) 09:14, 11 November 2020 (UTC)
It's a false analogy to compare the articles about Americans, Canadians and Brits with the Germans, Poles, Ukrainians or similar articles. The former categories do not refer to ethnic groups but as nationalities, the latter categories refer to ethnic groups. Germans, Poles, Ukrainians existed way before the modern-day countries Germany, Poland and Ukraine. The articles mentioning the ethnic groups quite clearly mention previous migrations and also recent immigration. It's also worth mentioning that even the term "ethnic group" is contested by many scientists (especially anthropologists) with regards to its validity and what actually qualifies as an ethnic group. But, one should not confuse someone having citizenship of a particular country as belonging to that country's ethnic group. Are we now going to want the articles about the Kamba people, Kikuyu people and Luo people to not be regarded as ethnic groups and only as Kenyans?--LeftiePete (talk) 13:24, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
@Moxy: What makes you think it was motivated by nationalism? Most people who belong to a ethnic group can take a wild guess if another person belongs to the same ethnic group based on the other person's physical appearance, the language he/she speaks, the way he/she behaves in the sense of traditions, etc. Most Indians know what other Indians look like, most Chinese people know what other Chinese people look like, etc. They aren't being nationalists or racists, it is because the generally accepted term of an ethnic group includes ancestry and more specifically physical appearance. An English person who learns Greek doesn't suddenly become Greek, an Indian who learns French doesn't suddenly become French and so forth. Surely these things are no-brainers.--LeftiePete (talk) 13:31, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
@Rsk6400: Except the Germans article is explicitly referring to "Germans" as an ethnic group, it is not about German citizens. Germany only became a nation-state in 1871, are you trying to imply that Germans never existed before that date? The concept of Germans existing an ethnic group was established hundreds of years ago. Even after Germany was unified as a nation-state, there were many Germans who were living outside of the borders e.g. Austrian Germans and Sudeten Germans who still considered themselves to be Germans even though they weren't German citizens. The most notorious example of course is Adolf Hitler who was born an Austrian citizen and later became a German citizen, but he was a German born in Austria and the vast majority of other Austrians felt the same as he did during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Nationality is just the legal identification of someone being a subject of a country which should never be confused with someone's ethnicity which refers for all intents and purposes to his/her ancestry. Now, that is not to say that someone who was born in Germany and is mixed race or has Polish, English or any other European ethnic ancestry cannot or should not be regarded as a German, but please let's stick to the facts and acknowledge that the article is specifically about Germans as an ethnic group.
@Austronesier: The only thing historically that was questioned about the term "Germans" was more to do with who was considered a German after 1871 e.g. most Austrians considered themselves to be Germans in the late 19th century and early 20th century even though they were not German citizens. Many other ethnic groups e.g. Jews have lived in Germany for a very long time and identify as Germans, but they still consider themselves to be Jews because that is part of self-identification and a national identity.--LeftiePete (talk) 14:17, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton: It's a false analogy to compare Americans and Brazilians to Germans, the French people and Dutch people. The former refer specifically only to nationalities because America and Brazil are multi-racial countries and have never been referred to specifically ethnic groups but rather nationalities. The latter refer to specific ethnic groups which existed way before nationalities. The articles are not "omitting huge proportions" of people because historical and recent migrations are mentioned throughout the articles. No one has ever stated that people of non-German ancestry are not German, but the article is referring specifically to Germans as an ethnic group. Oh, and just for what it is worth, "British" refers to the citizens of the UK, but there are the English people, Welsh people, Scottish people and Northern Irish people articles which refer specifically to those ethnic groups. Don't confuse nationality and ethnicity. Trying to mix nationality and ethnicity under the banner of being more inclusive is a slippery slope.--LeftiePete (talk) 14:25, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
This issue is overreacted. Of course it may refer primarily the ethnic group, but also as a nationality/citizens. Could not be otherwise, since just like that German ethnics and citizens may be summarized around the world, including German subjects residing outside Germany and people with German ancestry without citizenship. There is not any vs. here as the nominator of this discussion suggests. The two concept cannot be separated at the Germans article. By the Canada, Brazil or akin pages of course we summarize a bit differently as newly created countries which does not follow an exact state formation of one ethnics have different background, but the concept remains the same, as well ethnicity and citizens are inlcuded. There is no problem here.(KIENGIR (talk) 19:38, 14 November 2020 (UTC))
@LeftiePete: What I'm saying is precisely that Germany, France, the Netherlands etc. are now multi-racial countries as well (and becoming more so by the day). Whether one thinks that's good or bad, it's still a fact, and should be reflected in the definition of those people. I'm definitely not advocating conflating nationality and ethnicity! I've noticed that's a common misperception throughout this thread. Quite the opposite: I want to acknowledge the fact that there are two ways the words "Germans," "French people" etc. are used. As to the articles on the people of the nationals of the UK, I think those should also be defined more broadly - all of them are, admittedly to very different degrees, multiethnic societies and the word "Scottish people" now firmly also refers to figures like Katie Leung and Ncuti Gatwa.
And the fact that members of the Jewish diaspora often identify as such, even as members of a Jewish nation, shouldn't obscure the fact that they (usually) identify first and foremost as citizens of the country they live in.--Tserton (talk) 23:03, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
I've read this, and l think that the underlying problem is that people are looking at the article title, and trying to guess, based on their political philosophy, what the subject of the article is. (I say "political philosophy" in only the most positive sense – not about political organizations and elections, but about how you think large groups of people are best organized.) The actual subject does not match their prediction, so they conclude that the article content is wrong.
But it works the other way around. The subject of Germans is "a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture, and history." We could, if there were significant confusion, re-title it to something like "Ethnic German people", but the subject of the article should not change.
To help you better understand the concepts, imagine that Bob is a German citizen, born in Germany, whose parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, since at least the Napoleonic era, have always been born and raised in the same town. He's "German", right?
  • If Bob moves to France, he's still going to be German.
  • If Bob begins to think of himself as being French, he'll have a French personal National identity, but he'll still be an ethnic German.
  • If Bob changes his citizenship to French, he'll be legally a French citizen, but he's still going to be ethnically German.
The converse is also true: If an ethnic Finn moves to Germany, he does not stop being an ethnic Finn. He doesn't stop thinking that it's grand for babies to be outside when it's snowing. He doesn't stop thinking that Salty liquorice is food. No matter how his citizenship changes or how he views himself, he doesn't get magically removed from the group of people that is at higher risk of the Finnish heritage diseases.
And perhaps more pointedly, if a Turkish Gastarbeiter moved to Germany in 1955, and his children married other Turkish immigrants in Germany, and his grandchildren were born in Germany, those grandchildren may be German citizens, they may self-identify more with Germany than with any other country, and they may, in fact, be absolutely true and real Germans, but they are not the particular subset of absolutely-true-and-real Germans that this specific article happens to be about. This particular article is about my friends whose families have always lived in Germany, including those friends who have immigrated from Germany to other countries, but not my friends who have immigrated from other countries to Germany. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:02, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
To stick with your analogy about Bob: there's no question about his ethnicity not changing if he moved to another country. No one is saying that. But no one would dream of identifying him first and foremost as "German" if his family had been in the US for generations - he would be American, even if he identified as German in some social, familial or cultural aspects (which many German Americans, like Mexican Americans and Indian Americans, do). In fact, the movement to identify Barack Obama as "Kenyan" rather than simply "American" was widely seen as racist. The point I'm making is that most Western European countries have become multiethnic societies like the US, and the word "Germans" now commonly refers all German citizenships, rather than only ethnic Germans, just like "Americans" refers to everyone with American citizenship, not just Native Americans. The page Germans (And French people, Austrians, Belgians etc.) should simply reflect that. As I said above, Americans, Australians, and Brazilians are identified as citizens living in those countries - even though all of these countries have their own "ethnic" peoples that were there long before immigration.
That doesn't mean remove the ethnic dimension - we should just acknowledge the ambiguity. Your suggestion of renaming the article "ethnic Germans" or something similar is one way of doing so. The article could also be slightly rephrased at some points, especially the beginning. "Germans are citizens of Germany. In a wider sense, Germans can also refer to anyone of full or partial German descent, regardless of their citizenship." Or maybe "Germans are citizens of Germany blah blah blah.... In addition, the word German is also used to refer to a Germanic ethnic group native to central Europe blah blah blah." Both options would be okay with me. --Tserton (talk) 22:44, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
This is all getting a tad bit silly now. The term "ethnic group" (just like "race") is a social construct. However, Wikipedia has hundreds of articles about different ethnic groups and the Germans should be no different. Germans existed as an ethnic group a long time before Germany became a nation-state. There is no need for "(ethnic group)" to be added to the title of the article. Perhaps one or two sentences could be added in the lede that mention "Germans" can also refer to the citizens of Germany, but the fact remains that "Germans" refers primarily to the ethnic group.--LeftiePete (talk) 23:51, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
I don't think we're all that far apart on this issue, to be honest - I think we agree on the basics and only really differ on the formalities, and I understand your position. But I do disagree that "German" refers primarily to the ethnicty; I'd say it's the opposite. In the media, in legal situations and in everyday usage, it refers primarily to the nationality, while the ethnic meaning of the word is only intended for very specific contexts (e.g. an American of German descent speaking about his identification with the German culture).
And with respect, it's not silly at all - it's an extremely relevant topic. Non-white citizens of every Western European country long had problems being accepted as part of those countries' identities because they were rigidly defined along ethnic lines. Only a small minority of people still think this way, but latent racism persists in all of these countries ("but where are you really from?"). I would argue that a Wikipedia article describing French people narrowly as an ethnic group native to France is a form of othering.
Of course I realize ethnicity is a construct, and of course "German" was an ethnic group long before it was a nationality (a factoid that never ceases to amaze me: Germany didn't even have its own citizenship when it was created, but rather each constituent principality issued its own passports; German citizenship wasn't a thing until 1913). But the US and Australia and Brazil also have their own indigenous ethnicities, and there's a reason those pages don't narrowly refer only to Native Americans and Aboriginals: these words are commonly used to describe a much larger group of people. This has become the case for Western European countries as well, meaning the demonyms have taken on a dual meaning. The only difference is that there are no commonly used terms to distinguish the ethnicity from the nationality (aside from some tongue-in-cheek words like Biodeutsche). I would argue that Wikipedia should treat those terms like it treats any other entry with multiple meanings.
And again, it's not just an academic debate. This is a highly topical issue. In fact, the substance of the debate we're having here, which also occurred in some for or another in almost every Western European country in the 70s-00s (and in some places, especially where immigration is a more recent phenomenon, remains ongoing), is probably relevant itself for these Wikipedia articles.--Tserton (talk) 02:25, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton: As User:WhatamIdoing has already mentioned, that has more to do with some people's political beliefs on here. However, that is not how Wikipedia works. Maybe one or two sentences in the lede of the article could be added to mention that "Germans" may also refer to the citizens of Germany would be sufficient.--LeftiePete (talk) 02:38, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
There has been a sizeable amount of Africans living in China since the 1990s. Create a new section on the Chinese people talk article and ask for "Chinese people" to include the citizens of China because at the moment the article only refers to people of Chinese ancestry in the lede. Confusing nationality and ethnicity is a slippery slope.--LeftiePete (talk) 02:42, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
China is actually a multiethnic country and the article Chinese people reflects that: "Chinese people are the various individuals or ethnic groups associated with China, usually through ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, or other affiliation." But I understand the point you're trying to make - the African migrants who live in China are not generally considered "Chinese." But it's not a slippery slope at all - the vast majority of these people are not Chinese citizens (by design, since China makes it difficult for immigrants to integrate, much less acquire citizenship). If China ever became a major destination of immigrants and allowed them to become Chinese citizens, the meaning of "Chinese" would eventually evolve in the similar way "German" and "French" have.
As for the politics, that's a bit of an unfalsifiable hypothesis. One could just as easily turn the argument around and say that only politically conservative people insist of using "German" to refer mainly to the ethnicity. But as I see it, this use of the term is not politically incorrect, but rather factually incomplete.
Anyway, it seems like this is a solution everyone can live with: slightly modify the leads of the articles on the people of multiethnic societies to make clear they refer to both citizens of those countries as well as the ethnicities. I'll put a post on the respective talk pages to give people a chance to weigh in. --Tserton (talk) 08:58, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton, your sentence about 'using "German" to refer mainly to the ethnicity' takes us right back to where I started. Your problem seems to be with the article title, rather than its contents. There are multiple groups of people who really, truly, legitimately *are* German. There are, for example:
  • people currently holding German citizenship
  • people residing in Germany long-term/permanently, regardless of citizenship status
  • people raised in Germany/German culture
  • people descended from Germans
We should definitely have an article about all the multi-ethnic people who are living in Germany, and we do. We named that article Demographics of Germany, because that's our naming convention for articles about who lives in a given place, but it would be equally accurate to call that article "Germans".
We should also have a separate article about the single ethnic group whose families are historically from the people who controlled what is now Germany (including, in some cases, places that aren't Germany now, but have been at other times, and including people whose families lived in Germany for generations but who have themselves moved to another country, and excluding people from ethnic groups that were always considered to be separate groups in previous centuries, e.g., Romani people). We have such an article. We named that article Germans, because that's our naming convention for ethnic groups, but it would be equally accurate to call that article "Ethnic Germans".
Again: Don't get hung up on the title. If you want to be reading or writing about a different group of people who are entitled to describe themselves as "German", then go to German and find the article that you want to be reading about. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:33, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a dictionary, but an encyclopedia. It groups articles into concepts rather than terms. German ethnicity and German citizenship are covered by the same term, but are different concepts. For example: Volga Germans and Baltic Germans are referred to as "Germans" in an ethnic sense but not in a legal sense, while Sorbs are referred to as "Germans" in a legal sense but not in an ethnic sense. All countries in the world are multi-ethnic societies, including Germany. Wikipedia should have distinct articles on every notable ethnicity in that country, including Germans and Sorbs. If the topic of Germans, French people and Dutch people is to be made ambiguous by adding multiple distinct definitions, then the topic of Albanians, Armenians, Greeks, Russians, Vietnamese people etc. should be changed as well. Such proposed mixing of ethnic and legal concepts into one article would generate confusion, and would be contrary to WP:NOT#DICT/WP:NAD. Krakkos (talk) 13:27, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton: The point I was trying to make is that the Han Chinese is for the most part the predominant ethnic group belonging to the Chinese people, but there are loads of different Chinese ethnic groups. As User:Krakkos pointed out, Wikipedia includes different German ethnic groups when they are ethnic minorities in different countries, but the Germans article is predominantly about Germans as an ethnic group living in Germany. My point about politics is by no means an "unfalsifiable hypothesis" - conservatives and socialists (right-wing vs left-wing) view nationality, citizenship, immigration, ethnicity, etc, very, very differently. Whether recent migrants living in Germany consider themselves to be Germans is up to them, but whether "ethnic Germans" consider them to be "Germans" is a different ball game altogether. The German Wikipedia article about Germans covers that point clearly. I added "Citizens of Germany" to the German article.--LeftiePete (talk) 14:03, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
@LeftiePete: (and everyone involved in the discussion): As has been repeatedly noted, we now find ourselves going in circles and I doubt we will ever agree. This is a clash of worldviews and our arguments have devolved into the semantic. But the fact remains that most uninitiated people would find it utterly confusing to read that only 60 million of the 80 million people living in Germany are German.
What is wrong, when a word has two distinct meanings, with covering those two meanings and making the ambiguity clear? While Wikipedia is not a dictionary (@Krakkos:), here's an excerpt from WP:Article titles:

A good Wikipedia article title has the five following characteristics:

  • Recognizability – The title is a name or description of the subject that someone familiar with, although not necessarily an expert in, the subject area will recognize.
  • Naturalness – The title is one that readers are likely to look or search for and that editors would naturally use to link to the article from other articles. Such a title usually conveys what the subject is actually called in English.
  • Precision – The title unambiguously identifies the article's subject and distinguishes it from other subjects. (See § Precision and disambiguation, below.)
  • Conciseness – The title is no longer than necessary to identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects. (See § Conciseness, below.)
  • Consistency – The title is consistent with the pattern of similar articles' titles. Many of these patterns are listed (and linked) as topic-specific naming conventions on article titles, in the box above.
Currently, the titles of Germans, French people and similar multiethnic societies fail on the naturalness and precision criteria. So what's wrong with renaming "Germans" to "Germans (ethnic group)"? Or making clear within the lead of the existing article that Germans widely refers to two concepts? (And indeed, the nationality concept is by far the more widely used in real life, while the ethnic one has a more niche use). I'm aware that any title will make tradeoffs between these criteria, but at the moment it's concise at the expense of precision and naturalness.
Should we seek arbitration? Though I understand and respect the opposing position, there is clearly a genuine philosophical, rather than factual, disagreement here. --Tserton (talk) 23:37, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
I know several people who are living in Germany right now. At least four of them might actually be offended if you informed them that they were Germans despite having no German ancestry and no German citizenship. With the EU's open borders, it should not surprise anyone that a significant number of non-Germans live in Germany. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:27, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
For your question what's wrong with renaming "Germans" to "Germans (ethnic group)"?, the answer is "nothing, except that's not how we usually name such articles". Wikipedia:Naming conventions (ethnicities and tribes) says that "Germans" is the standard practice. We use a parenthetical disambiguation when there are multiple subjects with the same names, e.g., the Zambian city of Ndola and the Zambian Ndola (ethnic group).
I want to be clear: what you propose is not "wrong". It's just not the English Wikipedia's usual practice. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:40, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
"might actually be offended if you informed them that they were Germans despite having no German ancestry and no German citizenship." I don't want to expand German to include "anyone who happens to be in Germany at the moment" - I'm only advocating for Wikipedia's usage of the word Germans to also include German citizens (and thereby resemble Canadians and Americans). For what it's worth, I too know people living in Germany, with and without German citizenship, who do not wish to be considered German and identify primarily with another culture or nationality. However, I know many, many more people who are tired of being reminded of their "otherness" on a daily basis and wish to simply be seen as German. And in any case, anecdotes are not relevant for Wikipedia. Individuals should be able to identify as whatever they want irrespective of their passport - as German, not German, both, or none of the above.
"Wikipedia:Naming conventions (ethnicities and tribes) says that "Germans" is the standard practice." If, for the sake of argument, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (ethnicities and tribes) clearly reserved words like Germans for the ethnicity to the exclusion of the nationality (which I don't agree is the case), then that naming convention clashes with that of WP:Article titles.
"We use a parenthetical disambiguation when there are multiple subjects with the same names, e.g., the Zambian city of Ndola and the Zambian Ndola (ethnic group)." I am arguing that precisely this ambiguity exists with many Western European demonyms. --Tserton (talk) 23:34, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Oxford Dictionary of English defines the noun "German" as "a native or inhabitant of Germany, or a person of German descent". So the first definition is "native or inhabitant". In our article the only definition corresponds to "descent". So, either we have to change the definition in the lede of our article or we have to rename the article to Germans (ethnic group). @Tserton: I totally agree with your understanding of WPs naming conventions. --Rsk6400 (talk) 09:16, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
Of the two solutions, I prefer changing the lede, since the article is about both concepts. Two examples: There is a section on literature, but at least one well known living German author, Navid Kermani, has no German ancestors. The last section has two pictures of German chancellors - German government is not based on ethnicity. --Rsk6400 (talk) 09:46, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
Agree with Rsk6400 here. And once we're at it, we should drop the Blut-und-Boden-ish definition of ethnicity that includes ancestry. Significant portions of "ethnic Germans" became Germans by language-shift and self-indentifying as Germans over centuries starting with the Ostkolonisation. As late as 1938, German villages in East Prussia had to change their "foreign-sounding" names, even though their inhabitants (with just as "foreign-sounding" surnames ending in -at or eit) had identified as Germans for generations. The same holds for "assimilated" Jews, who by choice (sometimes by pressure) ceased to identify with the enthnicty of their parents. Denial of this choice was an essential Nazi policy based of their ancenstry-based definition of "German-ness". –Austronesier (talk) 10:25, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
I just changed the first paragraph of the lede of Germans, not claiming to have found the perfect solution. --Rsk6400 (talk) 14:30, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
@Rsk6400: I like your improvement. I've slightly tweaked it to clarify which Germanic ethnic group (ethnic Germans).--LeftiePete (talk) 22:12, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
I also think that wording is a major improvement that hopefully everyone can live with. Thanks to everyone for staying calm and reasonable throughout this long discussion - clearly no minds have been changed but we still seem to have found a solution everyone's okay with. --Tserton (talk) 05:52, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
The changes will be reviewed.(KIENGIR (talk) 02:24, 21 November 2020 (UTC))

@KIENGIR: I don't understand why you insist that "Germans" primarily denotes an ethnic group. The only reason you gave in the discussion - as far as I see now - is that we cannot sum up the different numbers of Germans in several countries. The sources in the lede are irrelevant, because they only confirm that one use of the word "Germans" is the ethnic group. They don't confirm that that's the only or primary use. The use in current English can only be referenced to a dictionary. That's why I mentioned the definition in ODE (see above). The expression "identified with Germany" is not unprecedented as you claim at Talk:Germans, but copied from Canadians. Your new version of the lede has at least two problems: The first sentence is wrong because it excludes part of the meaning. The ethnic definition is given in both the first and second sentences. --Rsk6400 (talk) 14:15, 22 November 2020 (UTC)

It is fact that especially in Europe that denotes at ethnic group, it has a history, and for everything I explained my reasons, which also others shared and I did not say that's the only primary use, but definetly a main usage. Just because by the Canadians article it is like so, it does not mean here it should be or would be adequate, since such like historical Canadian ethnic group did not even exist, etc. such issues have also been discussed. No, the version I rewritten does no exclude any meaning, and there is no repetition of the ethnic meaning, since being of German ancestry does not necessarily mean being fully German, but the article also sums up German descendants. If you don't accept this version, the page will be rollbacked to the status quo ante version, because no new consensus has been achieved.(KIENGIR (talk) 17:28, 22 November 2020 (UTC))
@KIENGIR: You might want to read WP:DRNC, since you reverted without explaining your reasons. I totally agree with what you say about the ethnical usage being "a main usage". But your version of the lede implies that the ethnical usage is the main usage. And that's something different. Neither ODE, nor Merriam-Webster, nor the German constitution, Article 116 (English translation) see it as the main usage. --Rsk6400 (talk) 16:28, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
no, I explained all of my reasons in every talk pages. It is only your perception, however this article is not a law, so citing existing laws are not helpful. Also, Marriam-Webster about German is not identical with Germans, etc. In the lead the three main interpretations are fairly listed with the needed weight, taking into account all wherabouts.(KIENGIR (talk) 16:55, 23 November 2020 (UTC))
@Tserton, Austronesier, Jotamar, Moxy, LeftiePete, Krakkos, Mathglot, and WhatamIdoing: (hoping that I didn't forget anybody who took part) I'm really at a loss as to how to deal with this. Any thoughts ? --Rsk6400 (talk) 20:04, 23 November 2020 (UTC)

How we phrase the definition in the lead, should follow what reliable, independent, secondary sources say. When there are multiple meanings (citizens or not, ethnic group or not, residents or not) then we must include the definitions given in a majority, or significant minority of reliable sources, and ignore the rest; and discuss them in proportion to their appearance in reliable sources, with the majority view first, and having a larger proportion of lead sentence or paragraph. The task then becomes: how to determine these proportions, when there are too many sources to examine them all? In this case, a good technique is to examine reliable tertiary sources, such as published encyclopedias. If you look at a dozen reliable encyclopedias, and the majority say the same thing about this question, then one can assume that that reliably reflects the state of the many secondary sources, and we should go with the definition given by the majority of encyclopedias. If there is no clear majority, then we should list both (or all) views, probably starting off the WP:LEADSENTENCE with something like, "The term Germans has several meanings: first: <most common meaning>, and also <next most common>." We need to stick with the reliable sources, and consulting tertiary sources is a way of getting confirmation of what the secondary sources say, when there are too many of them to read them all. Mathglot (talk) 20:24, 23 November 2020 (UTC)

@KIENGIR: I'm not trying to be confrontational, but Wikipedia is a collaborative project, and unilaterally rolling back an edit that had the broad support of editors of different stances runs counter to the spirit of collaboration - let alone without making any new points. The objections you raised on Talk:Germans have been thoroughly discussed on this page. And respectfully, threatening to simply revert everything if others don't agree with your edit is a mild form of hostage-taking.
@Mathglot: This kind of cool, scientific approach is appealing. The issue I see is that it will probably be highly divergent: legal, political and sociological textbooks would likely primarily use the citizenship meaning of national demonyms, while historical and ethnological texts might be more focused on the ethnic meaning. So if we consulted a wide range of such texts we should be sure to include a good cross-section of fields. Many may also not give a clear definition one way or another (e.g. Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't have any entry for Germans), putting us back in our current position of arguing how the word is being used. In addition, there are a great many secondary sources (news articles, government documents, memoirs, etc.) that use demonyms as the nationality and others that use it as the ethnicity. If a clear majority of encyclopedias used it in a certain way, would that invalidate the contradicting secondary sources? (I'm open to being wrong about this - I have little experience using tertiary sources for editing Wikipedia.)
@Rsk6400: To my view, your edit had the consensus of a diverse group of participants in this discussion. The points being raised now simply rehash old ones made throughout this discussion. I see several options: (1) re-revert the edits with the justification that they were made with talk page consensus (undesirable and will likely lead to an edit war), (2) ask for third opinions or arbitration, or (3) as suggested by Mathglot below, substantially rewrite the article. I'm for options 2 or 3, although even 3 may end up being contentious and require third opinions.--Tserton (talk) 22:09, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
what are you talking about? I collaboratively modified more times the new trial with a discussion with the fellow editor, thus I could not unilaterally roll back an edit, which was performed by the user in fact allegedly as bold edit, an on the other hand pushed that unilaterally despite having no consensus (unfortunately the opposite is true from your accusations, neither gained the trial broad support, or consensus here, neither on the article's talk, just a few editors supported it). You last sentence is again a nonsense, excuse me, it seems you are not aware of our guidelines, in case no consensus is achieved, than neither my or the other user's version stays, but the page will be reset to the previous version as it was before, per policy.(KIENGIR (talk) 22:22, 23 November 2020 (UTC))
@Tserton: replied to you at Tertiary sources subsection, below. Mathglot (talk) 23:28, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
@Mathglot: I followed your suggestion, thinking that dictionaries also are tertiary sources, since their editors scan a lot of literature.
@KIENGIR: Collaboration demands that you earnestly engage in a discussion. A threat like I answered you there, in case you won't accept this improved version, then because of no consensus the page will be reset to status quo ante (your edit summary here) is difficult to reconcile with the spirit of collaboration. Above you wrote, I explained all of my reasons in every talk pages. That behaviour is mentioned as an example for disruptive behaviour in WP:Stonewalling: Or they claim the question has already been answered, without indicating where (with a link or quote) it was answered. As we all know, consensus is not unanimity. WP:Stonewalling says that Consensus regarding a proposal is determined by evaluating the arguments made by all those participating. So, I agree with Tserton (talk · contribs): There is a consensus here that the first sentence (see WP:LEADSENTENCE) should not define Germans only as an ethnic group. I don't think you should revert again. --Rsk6400 (talk) 15:03, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
no, I earnestly engaged in the discussions, and I never made threats, our community has it's policies and guidelines you wish to ignore, meanwhile it is not the first time to identify happenings as they are. I if you claim spirit of collaboration, why you are pushing something without consensus and consistently disregard our rules? You tried several claims, none of them were valid - as well your new invention of "stonewalling" - just beucase you could not reach a new consensus (more worse, that you try to suggest there are no links to asnwers, although they are as well here and on the page evidently referred, seen by everyone). "is determined by evaluating the arguments made by all those participating", sure and your arguments have been taken into account (my solutions as well contained those principles laid down here, following the triple approach, so your claim about "define Germans only as an ethnic group" is fake), on the other hand you obviously failed to build a new consensus of especially the wordage you have been pushing. Since you did such move again, accordingly the page will be rolled back to status quo ante, per policy, and you should avoid any further modifications to the page without reaching a new consensus, presented here or either in the article's talk, where all participants give their open consent and agreement to update the lead, regarding it's exact wordage.(KIENGIR (talk) 03:39, 26 November 2020 (UTC))

Germans as ethnic group is a notable subject, so trying to change the scope of existing article seems fairly counterproductive. If people think the topic Germans as citizens of Germany deserves a standalone article, then it would make sense for them to create such article from scratch. While there would be some overlap, logically it would have a whole lot less information about medieval history of Germans, and a whole lot more information about different groups(Turks, Poles, Jews etc.) that form modern body of German citizens, sort of like you can see in Australians or Americans articles.--Staberinde (talk) 11:19, 28 November 2020 (UTC)


Sorry I'm late to this discussion. I probably would have contributed in detail had I noticed it sooner. At this point I think it's worth noting that a lot of good points have been made from different points of view, and that one point of agreement, such as it is, was that it was starting to go around in circles. The bottom line that I guess most would agree on: there are various ways of looking at the concept of "German" (and other such terms). I also understand both the temptation to go with WP:PARENDIS with "(ethnic group)" as well as the counterpoint, "we don't *usually* do it that way".

So, I was a bit surprised that in all the different proposals of how to deal with it, no one has mentioned the possibility of structuring the article as a Broad concept article. The BCA concept provides a framework for thinking about a topic that "may be difficult to write about because it is abstract, or because it covers the sometimes-amorphous relationship between a wide range of related concepts." For those who haven't come across this editing guideline before, or just haven't thought about a BCA in connection with this topic, I think it might offer a solution that everyone could get on board with. Or am I being hopelessly optimistic? Have another look at WP:BCA and see what you think. Cheers, Mathglot (talk) 02:40, 22 November 2020 (UTC)

Just mention and link German diaspora in the definition...the average reader will have a progressive view of ethnic groups.--Moxy 🍁 21:23, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
@Moxy: I would instinctively agree with you, but the extent of the discussion on here demonstrates this is not the case. --Tserton (talk) 22:26, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
@Mathglot: Writing a Broad Concept Article sounds like an elegant way of addressing most of the concerns raised during this discussion. It sounds like exactly what we have here: two meanings of the same word that are related but distinct. But it would entail a revision of a number of articles on a scale both broad and deep and require a lot of coordination and collaboration. What do people think? --Tserton (talk) 22:26, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
Article is already broad in nature.... covers citizenship, ethnicity, dispora... Etc.....just need the first paragraph of the lead fixed to match the rest. Read me....Guido Bolaffi; Raffaele Bracalenti; Peter Braham; Sandro Gindro (2003). Dictionary of Race, Ethnicity and Culture. SAGE Publications. pp. 1968–. ISBN 978-0-7619-6900-6..--Moxy 🍁 00:52, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
If it's all right with everyone, since the discussion has largely moved to the subsection Tertiary sources as proxy, I'll move this subsection above it to keep the most recent comments at the bottom and make it easier for potential newcomers to get to them. --Tserton (talk) 04:28, 27 November 2020 (UTC)
Edit: done --Tserton (talk) 11:19, 29 November 2020 (UTC)

Tertiary sources as proxy[edit]

Above, I laid out an idea about using tertiary sources like encyclopedias as a way to (hopefully) help point the way to a solution of the problem. Note that two features of tertiary sources (like encyclopedias) are crucial to this approach:

  1. Reliable tertiary sources are in the business of providing a balanced and accurate view of what secondary sources say. That is the very definition of what a tertiary source is and does. If most tertiary sources agree about a given point, it is overwhelmingly likely that most secondary sources agree about that point. Put another way: the consensus of tertiary sources is an excellent proxy for what the consensus of what secondary sources say about an issue.
  2. Tertiary sources are far fewer in number than secondary sources; it's much faster, and easier, for Wikipedia editors to get a sense of what most encyclopedias say.

By combining these two points, we can look at tertiary sources, to determine WP:DUE WEIGHT about a topic in secondary sources, without having to read all the secondary sources, to a very high degree of probability.

Some point-by-point responses to @Tserton:'s comments:

The issue I see is that it will probably be highly divergent

Many may also not give a clear definition one way or another (e.g. Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't have any entry for Germans)

If a clear majority of encyclopedias used it in a certain way, would that invalidate the [great many] contradicting secondary sources?

...using tertiary sources for editing Wikipedia

I've used this approach before, and I believe it has been helpful. If you'd like to see a real-world example of how an appeal to tertiary sources has helped lend some data to a seemingly deadlocked situation in the context of a long, complicated, contentious Talk page discussion about a topic, have a look at this section about tertiary sources at Talk:French Revolution. I believe it was of value there in pointing out how tertiary sources provided a proper perspective about the range of views on one aspect of a historical event that may have the vastest literature of any event in history. I think that it could have a similar benefit, here. Mathglot (talk) 23:28, 23 November 2020 (UTC)

@Mathglot:Thanks for your explanation - it's helpful and makes sense. We clearly need to find a new way of dealing with our impasse without simply retreading our arguments. To start, I'm broadly in favor of your suggestion, but with mixed feelings:
I think maybe the reason people are reluctant to jump on board with this is for fear of the result of such a survey of tertiary literature. First, because "who is German/French/Dutch?" (and while I know these articles aren't trying to answer that, many uninitiated readers will read them as such) is a more fraught and loaded question than "what was the extent of American involvement in the French revolution?" And second, because the meaning of "German" only began to evolve about 50 years ago and its modern non-race-specific usage really only became widespread in the last 20 years. (This is my personal assessment based on secondary literature.) Encyclopedias don't publish new editions every year (or even every decade), so my fear is that we'll find an anachronistic view of the topic that doesn't reflect realities on the ground. Imagine a point in time, not all that long ago, in the US when the now (more or less) unquestioned identity of people of Asian or African descent as "American" was still a recent development. Making their Americaness dependent on the survey of contemporary encyclopedias would be quite fraught, and who knows what it would have yielded. So maybe people are afraid of that being a Pandora's box.
Imagine reading something like this: "Germans are an ethnic group native to central Europe....a minority view also considers Germans to refer to all German citizens regardless of ethnicity." Or imagine being a non-white German reading that!
However, it may be the only way to break the impasse at which we find ourselves. Without trying to pre-determine the outcome of an encyclopedic survey - if a rather recent change in the description of the word over time becomes evident, that can still be reflected in our text ("Germans once referred predominantly to the ethnic group natice to central Europe and is still used this way in some contexts...") Whatever we end up deciding to do will definitely command a stronger consensus if it's the result of a systematic, objective process. --Tserton (talk) 23:27, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton:, thanks for your comment. I would only say, that if an editor fears the result of a survey of tertiary literature, then that's a red flag, and they should reexamine their reason for being here. The role of an editor here, is to distill and summarize the reliable secondary literature on a topic in a neutral fashion, and in proportion to the weight of different views on the topic; that's pretty much it. If they "fear" what the literature says, that says to me that they may be an advocate and not a neutral observer, and maybe they could find a better fit at Medium, or Stackexchange, or a blog, but not at Wikipedia. I can't see any reason at all why a neutral, unbiased observer would have a fear of what a survey of reliable sources would turn up. It doesn't matter if it's fraught; it doesn't matter if it steps on our toes or preconceptions as editors, or if it makes people in one group or another feel bad. It only matters what the reliable sources actually say about the topic. Our only role here, is to faithfully render that onto the page in summary form, and add footnotes. Mathglot (talk) 00:17, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
@Mathglot: I'm sorry. Fear was too strong a word, and I shouldn't have tried to guess at what other Wikipedians are thinking. Of course I believe in the hard-nosed search for truth over pathos and personal beliefs that is the founding philosophy of Wikipedia. While my impression of the question "how is the adjective German used" is colored by my own experiences with the word, I'm fully aware that that amounts to original research. I'm genuinely not trying to be difficult or advocate an authoritarian view of the world as I see it. While I do believe printed encyclopedias, almost by definition, lag behind secondary sources, and that can create problems with fast-evolving topics, I'm perfectly willing to submit to whatever a survey of them turns up. --Tserton (talk) 01:26, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton:, no worries; I didn't assume you were talking about yourself, but probably were just worried in general about getting concern-trolled by possibly newish editors who don't yet realize what our charter is here. It's all good. Face-wink.svg Mathglot (talk) 02:44, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
@Tserton: I agree even with your fears: Just looked into an old edition (about 1960) of "Brockhaus" (one of Germany's most famous encyclopedias): "Deutsche" is defined there in a way that can only be called outlandish today. --Rsk6400 (talk) 15:09, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
@Mathglot:, thank you for this sensible suggestion. The following tertiary sources may be helpful in solving the problem:

Krakkos (talk) 09:55, 26 November 2020 (UTC)

@Krakkos: All the sources you mentioned share a common problem: The titles make it clear that they concentrate on ethnic groups. So it's no wonder that they define Germans as an ethnic group. A definition which everybody here agrees with. Our question is, whether "ethnic group" is the only (or at least the main) definition. And regarding that question, those sources can't help us. --Rsk6400 (talk) 10:08, 26 November 2020 (UTC)
@Rsk6400:I fully understand where you're coming from: Wikipedia should describe the world as it is, and anyone who's lived in Germany in the past 20 years, or even paid attention to the artists, politicians and businesspeople Germany has produced, knows that word has long been used to describe citizens of all national origins (relevant meme: I understand the concern about not simply "making some group of people feel bad", but indeed of producing something racist by implying an even more exclusively ethnic description of German than how the article currently phrases it. I also share your discomfort for using a "scientific" process to determine how to apply the word German, since this has uncomfortable echoes in Germany's past. But I've read through some of Wikipedia's guidelines and policies on tertiary sources (WP:Identifying and using tertiary sources) and they strike me as quite sensible in how they limit their use.
  • Comparative use of tertiary sources can be fraught with problems relating to undue weight, non-neutral point of view, novel synthesis, and lack of basic accuracy if the things being compared are subject to real-world contention, or are complex in nature.

  • While a good tertiary source can usually be used without incident to source non-controversial facts, such citations can and should be superseded by ones to reliable secondary sources....It is extremely rare for a tertiary source to be the best such source, for anything, in any context.

  • An obsolete source cannot be used to "trump" newer reliable sources that present updated information, most especially when the older source states or implies a negative that cannot be proven but can be disproven easily by new data.

In short, this means that while tertiary sources can be used to establish due weight (but not facts), in doing so we should exercise a clear bias in favor of more recent sources. It also means that no matter what a survey of tertiary sources reveals, the text will still have to be cited with secondary sources - of which there is an abundance demonstrating or even defining the post-ethnic usage of "Germans," "French," etc. In this sense, it's highly unlikely that using tertiary sources within the confines quoted above would lead us to describe a world drastically different from what it is - which is, of course, the basic principle of not relying on original research.
I suspect we'd find that many modern general encyclopedias simply avoid defining national groups explicitly. (Having said that, I don't readily have access to any general encyclopedias or textbooks.)
It's worth noting that most of the sources Krakkos cited above all studiously avoid defining German along ethnic lines and instead emphasize linguistic ties. The only work that does use an ethnic division first, One Europe Many Nations by Minahan, is on the older side (2000), and even he states there are "83,885,000 Germans in Europe," a number that clearly includes recent immigrants.
  • One Europe, Many Nations (Minahan, 2000): "The Germans are an ancient ethnic group, the basic stock in the composition of the peoples of Germany, Scandinavia....approximately 83,885,000 Germans [live] in Europe"

  • Ethnic Groups of Europe (Jeffrey Cole, 2011): "German identity developed through a long historical process that led to the definition of the German nation as both a community of descent (Volksgemeinschaft) and shared culture and experience. Today, the German language is the primary though not exclusive criterion of German identity."

  • Native Peoples of the World (Steven Danver, 2015): "Germans are a Germanic (or Teutonic) people that are indigenous to Central Europe. Of the 100 million German speakers worldwide, about three-quarters (76 million) live in Germany....after centuries of political fragmentation, a sense of national unity as Germans began to evolve in the eighteenth century, and the German language became a key marker of national identity."

At the least, this would put the whole discussion on a more solid footing. The only alternative I can see is asking for intervention by admins, or an arbitration process of some sort. It's possible that certain users will never be constructive in their editing, but if we do as much legwork as possible it'll be less and less tenable for them to troll the consensus as is currently happening.--Tserton (talk) 01:54, 27 November 2020 (UTC)

Edit warring at Germans[edit]

I took the problem at Germans to Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Edit_warring#User:KIENGIR_reported_by_User:Rsk6400_(Result:_). --Rsk6400 (talk) 07:24, 26 November 2020 (UTC)

A problem indeed you initiated, so this was not a solution, you made things just worse.(KIENGIR (talk) 08:41, 27 November 2020 (UTC))

Survey of tertiary literature[edit]

@Mathglot: @Krakkos: @Rsk6400: @Mathglot: @Austronesier: @Moxy: @WhatamIdoing: @LeftiePete: and anyone else who participated or would like to: I'm not sure if there's an appetite for Mathglot's suggestion, but I think it would be worthwhile - even alone, although it would be nice to have broad participation to give whatever consensus emerges the maximum legitimacy possible. I would like to inject some evidence-based arguments into the eventual decision. I would stick with Germans for now, but it would be logical to eventually give other demonyms with ambiguous meanings the same treatment. Below I'll start a list of encyclopedia entries for "Germans" with relevant quotes on how the word is described/used. I will include those that Krakkos has already found. I think we can also safely include ethnological and political encyclopedias, as long as we put them in the proper context. If anyone would like to join in, please do! Just please be indiscriminate with the encyclopedias you cite (i.e. don't cherry pick) and include all relevant information from the source - even if it contradicts your preferred interpretation. I would especially appreciate Mathglot's input as someone who's done this before, if they have the time to give it. I'm keeping this on the Ethnicity project talk page because that's where the bulk of the discussion occurred, but I'm happy to move it to the talk page of the article of discussion (i.e. Germans).

Tertiary sources[edit]

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica: no entry for "Germans." Edit (02:43, 30 November 2020 (UTC)): Encyclopedia Britannica does discuss Germans under the entry "Germany" and describes the term extremely broadly: "The German-speaking peoples—which include the inhabitants of Germany as well as those of Austria, Liechtenstein, and the major parts of Switzerland and Luxembourg; small portions of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy; and the remnants of German communities in eastern Europe—are extremely heterogeneous in their ethnic origins, dialectal divisions, and political and cultural heritage....The Germans, in their various changes of territory, inevitably intermingled with other peoples." [1]
  2. Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues (2015): Doesn't explicitly define Germans, but uses the word to denote both ethnic Germans and German citizens. Emphasizes linguistic ties for identity. "Germans are a Germanic (or Teutonic) people that are indigenous to Central Europe. Of the 100 million German speakers worldwide, about three-quarters (76 million) live in Germany....after centuries of political fragmentation, a sense of national unity as Germans began to evolve in the eighteenth century, and the German language became a key marker of national identity."[2] Thanks to Krakkos for finding.
  3. Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia (2011): Doesn't explicitly define Germans, but uses the word to denote both ethnic Germans and German citizens. Emphasizes linguistic ties for identity. "The Germans live in Central Europe, mostly in Germany (82.2 million inhabitants, of whom 75 million speak German), and in many countries around the world, both as German expatriates and as citizens of other countries who identify culturally as German and speak the language....German identity developed through a long historical process that led to the definition of the German nation as both a community of descent (Volksgemeinschaft) and shared culture and experience. Today, the German language is the primary though not exclusive criterion of German identity." [3] Thanks to Krakkos for finding.
  4. One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups (2000): Describes Germans mostly as an ethnic group, but also evidently includes recent immigrants in the population figure: "The Germans are an ancient ethnic group, the basic stock in the composition of the peoples of Germany, Scandinavia....approximately 83,885,000 Germans [live] in Europe, the majority in Germany, but with substantial German populations in Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Romania." [4] Thanks to Krakkos for finding. --Tserton (talk) 01:55, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  5. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia: no entry for "Germans." (would be on p.648 if there were one) [5] Mathglot (talk) 05:34, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  6. Encyclopedia of European Peoples: has an entry for Germans, but makes no mention of ethnicity, instead focusing on history and culture.[6] --Tserton (talk) 02:43, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  7. Columbia Encyclopedia – Describes Germans as a "large ethnic complex of ancient Europe" and listing the modern countries of Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Low Countries, and England, and putting it in historical context back to pre-Christian Rome. (One-volume 'pedia, 950pp; Germans article is about two column-inches.)[7] Mathglot (talk) 05:34, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  8. Encyclopédie Larousse – Nothing for Allemands (Germans), peuple allemand (German people), and so on; though it has entries for Hongrois (Hungarians), Finnois (Finns), and Basques.[8] Mathglot (talk) 07:35, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  9. Gran enciclopèdia catalana – Nothing for alemanys (Germans) [search link; no article], poble alemany (German people), and so on; though it has entries for magiar (Hungarians), finès (Finns), and basc (Basques).[9] Mathglot (talk) 07:58, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  10. Europa-Lexikon: Länder, Politik, Institutionen: Does not describe Germans as a people, but does list the German population of Germany as the number of people with German citizenship. [10]--Tserton (talk) 11:21, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
  11. Oxford World Encyclopedia: No entry for Germans; entry for "Germany" does not describe people of Germany.[11]--Tserton (talk) 00:06, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
  12. Europe: A Concise Encyclopedia: No entry for Germans; entry for "Germany" does not describe people of Germany.[12]--Tserton (talk) 00:22, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
Click [show] to view references for tertiary sources


  1. ^ Sheehan, James, ed. (2020). "Germans". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 29 November 2020. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  2. ^ Danver, Steven (2015). Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues. Routledge.
  3. ^ Cole, Jeffrey (2011). Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 171–177.
  4. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  5. ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc (2000). Mark A. Stevens (ed.). Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. p. 648. ISBN 978-0-87779-017-4. OCLC 248216664.
  6. ^ Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing.
  7. ^ Levey, Judith S.; Greenhall, Agnes, eds. (1983). "French Revolution". The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. Avon. pp. 329–330. ISBN 978-0-380-63396-8. OCLC 894967522. A large ethnic complex of ancient Europe, a basic stock in the composition of the modern peoples of Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Low Countries, and England. They lived in N Germany and along the Baltic Sea, expanding south, southeast, and west, in the early Christian era. Caesar and Tacitus wrote of their warlike attributes, culture, and distribution. The Teutons and Cimbri, who the Roman general Marius defeated, may have been Germans.
  8. ^ "Révolution française". Encyclopédie Larousse (in French). Larousse. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  9. ^ Vinyes i Vilà, Josep M., ed. (1 November 1988). "alemanys" [Germans]. Gran enciclopèdia catalana. Grup Enciclopèdia. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  10. ^ Gruner, Wolf; Woyke, Wichard (2007). Europa-Lexikon: Länder, Politik, Institutionen.
  11. ^ Oxford World Encyclopedia. Philip's. 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  12. ^ Leach, Rodney (2004). Europe: A Concise Encyclopedia. pp. 120–123.

Request for comment[edit]

Given the low level of participation in the survey of tertiary literature, and the consequent likelihood of further edit wars, I've opened an Rfc on the Germans talk page.--Tserton (talk) 02:17, 5 December 2020 (UTC)

Posting here purely to inform this WikiProject that Krakkos (talk · contribs) has started no less than twenty-one additional RfCs on this matter, which may be found at the talk pages for: Albanians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Bulgarians, Estonians, Georgians, Greeks, Hungarians, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz people, Latvians, Romanians, Russians, Somalis, Tajiks, Thai people, Turkish people, Turkmens, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Vietnamese people. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 18:18, 30 December 2020 (UTC)

@Krakkos: I don't think this is a good idea. Rfc's are supposed to be preceded by at least some discussion on the topic, and that wasn't the case for any of these as far as I can tell. We should make either one single Rfc here in WikiProject Ethnic Groups on a unified approach for how to treat ethnicity and nationality (given the vigorous discussion that has already taken place), or start discussions on the individual respective talk pages. --Tserton (talk) 00:27, 31 December 2020 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Use of the term 'Mixed race'

I looked to see what Wikipedia had to say about the term 'mixed race' and was directed to the 'Multiracial people' article. I think that the terms 'mixed race' and 'multiracial' are entirely misleading. There are two main reasons for this, in my mind: 1. Everybody is mixed race - racial purity is a myth 2. 'Mixed race' is a term that really means 'not entirely white European'. Someone might be part Finnish, part Georgian, part Basque and part Irish and not be described as mixed race. Anyone who is part Chinese, part African, part Indian or anything other that white European will be described as mixed race. What is real is culture and different societies do have different cultural mixes. Sometimes physical characteristics such as skin colour align with cultural identity but this is not necessarily the case. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mydaemonthirst (talk • contribs) 11 April 2021 (UTC)