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  • ETHNIC CONFUSION

    I have a complete (± 10,000 people) and well documented family tree. According to it I am at least 98% French.

    My FTDNA results are:
    53% Iberia
    22% Scandinavia
    15% British Isles
    7% Eastern Europe
    4% Southwest Europe

    My Ancestry DNA results are:
    38% Great Britain
    23% Italy/Greece
    20% Ireland
    8% Eastern Europe
    7% Iberia
    4% Scandinavia

    I can't understand why there is absolutely no French in these findings. Not even a minuscule!

    My husband has an almost identical ethnic background (I've fully documented his family tree also) because Québec for about 300+ years has been an insular society. His Ancestry results are closer to what I would have expected for myself.

    59% Western Europe
    15% Ireland
    12% Italy/Greece
    9% Iberia
    5% Great Britain

    I didn't expect our results to be completely identical but I wasn't expecting such a huge variation. And why do I not have a speck of French???

    Answers anyone?

  • #2
    I believe France itself is vastly undersampled for autosomal DNA, so there does not seem to be a robust "reference population" that can be used to estimate French "ethnic" origins. I wouldn't spend much time thinking about this, since you already have extensive knowledge of your ancestry.

    In general, the admixture algorithms deliver results that some people find consistent with what they know of their genealogy. Others find the results completely inconsistent, and the rest of us find the results singularly unenlightening. The methodology relies on a large number of assumptions that are difficult or impossible to test, and appears to be based frequently on sample sizes that seem much too small to represent adequately the genetic diversity expected for a real human population, even if the other assumptions happen to be true.

    Comment


    • #3
      Because assigning autosomal DNA results to ethnicities isn't an exact science and not really something that is possible because ethnicity is more complex than genetics.

      Your autosomal DNA is compared to reference populations in various companies databases. The people of Europe are really not all that different from each other and due to migrations of various people over thousands of years people are bound to share genetics. The British Isles, Iberia and France are all places known to have had Celtic, Germanic and Roman influences in varying degrees throughout the centuries.

      Another thing to be wary of is that one's paper trail may not be the same as their genetic trail through exogenous family events (adoption, fostering, non-parent event/infidelity, etc). I'm not implying this is your scenario, just something that all of us must be aware of and prepared for with the advent of genetic genealogy.
      Last edited by spruithean; 17 February 2018, 11:30 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        The replies are a great summation!

        Many of us look at these ethnicity reports for their "entertainment value."

        At Gedmatch, print out a pretty, colorful pie chart and label it "This MAY be my ethnicity."

        In time, the reports are expected to become more accurate.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by spruithean View Post
          Because assigning autosomal DNA results to ethnicities isn't an exact science and not really something that is possible because ethnicity is more complex than genetics.

          Your autosomal DNA is compared to reference populations in various companies databases. The people of Europe are really not all that different from each other and due to migrations of various people over thousands of years people are bound to share genetics. The British Isles, Iberia and France are all places known to have had Celtic, Germanic and Roman influences in varying degrees throughout the centuries.

          Another thing to be wary of is that one's paper trail may not be the same as their genetic trail through exogenous family events (adoption, fostering, non-parent event/infidelity, etc). I'm not implying this is your scenario, just something that all of us must be aware of and prepared for with the advent of genetic genealogy.
          Spruithean is right to a degree, though that does not mean that France is just a big mixture of everyone else's genetics. However, with that nation region is everything; the Pyrenees is populated with Basques (an Iberian people) but Bretons are descended of Welshmen who fled the Anglo-Saxons, Provence is rather Tuscan (perhaps the cause of your Southwestern European?) and Normandie to invasions by Scandinavian Vikings in the early Middle Ages. Your husband's heavy amount of Western European could be owing to an ancestor from a more central region like Bourgogne or the Loire Valley, maybe even Champagne. It's good to know a lot of history of the nation (and more specifically the region) where your ancestors come from so you better understand your results.
          Someone here said France suffers from lack of genetic sampling, and that is true: the French are an understudied and highly misunderstood population, from many different angles.

          Comment


          • #6
            More Results

            Thanks for all the replies to date.

            I especially like Rhonda Hatton’s description of the ethnic composition of the many regions of France.

            In the meantime, I ran all three of our tests (Ancestry & FTDNA for me and Ancestry for him) through GEDMatch and came up with almost identical results—45% North Atlantic, 18% Baltic, 22% West Mediterranean. Not sure what the composition of North Atlantic is but if France is in the mix, the results are close to what I was originally expecting.

            The GEDMatch also identified 0.69% Amerindian for my husband (didn’t appear in the Ancestry results) and this confirms what we already knew. His 4x gg was a Mascouten orphan from Michigan/Wisconsin, taken on as a slave by a well-known Québécois fur-trader. He was baptized at 3 years of age in Detroit in 1714 and all this detail appeared in the record.

            There is some debate in the genealogical community as to whether the child’s father was Amerindian or the fur-trader’s son. I tend to come down on the side of the Amerindian father because I have a hard time believing the fur-trader would take 3 years to bring him back to Québec (it was common in New France for families to take in the illegitimate Amerindian offspring of the head of the family). And also, there were a lot of internecine wars in the Midwest at that time and orphans were a common enough occurrence and might not be adopted by the victorious enemy tribe.

            At that particular time in Québécois history 2/3 of the slaves were Amerindians brought back to Québec from Michigan (because of the fur-trading) and from the New England states (as a result of British/American/Indian wars). The local Amerindians to my knowledge were never enslaved and in this case, his ancestor seemed to enjoy quite a lot of freedom. When he married a French Québécoise, his master’s nephew was one of the many witnesses. One of his more well-known descendants was a long-time premier of our province during the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

            Marcel Trudel, the illustrious Québec historian, wrote a book with a census of the slaves including their names, ages, tribe of origin and name of their master. So interesting!

            To me, DNA is fascinating but sometimes difficult to understand stuff. But we are so glad to have this link to Amerindians confirmed to some degree.

            I am looking forward to seeing if anyone else can contribute to this subject.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MaureenQC View Post
              Thanks for all the replies to date.

              I especially like Rhonda Hatton’s description of the ethnic composition of the many regions of France.

              In the meantime, I ran all three of our tests (Ancestry & FTDNA for me and Ancestry for him) through GEDMatch and came up with almost identical results—45% North Atlantic, 18% Baltic, 22% West Mediterranean. Not sure what the composition of North Atlantic is but if France is in the mix, the results are close to what I was originally expecting.

              The GEDMatch also identified 0.69% Amerindian for my husband (didn’t appear in the Ancestry results) and this confirms what we already knew. His 4x gg was a Mascouten orphan from Michigan/Wisconsin, taken on as a slave by a well-known Québécois fur-trader. He was baptized at 3 years of age in Detroit in 1714 and all this detail appeared in the record.

              There is some debate in the genealogical community as to whether the child’s father was Amerindian or the fur-trader’s son. I tend to come down on the side of the Amerindian father because I have a hard time believing the fur-trader would take 3 years to bring him back to Québec (it was common in New France for families to take in the illegitimate Amerindian offspring of the head of the family). And also, there were a lot of internecine wars in the Midwest at that time and orphans were a common enough occurrence and might not be adopted by the victorious enemy tribe.

              At that particular time in Québécois history 2/3 of the slaves were Amerindians brought back to Québec from Michigan (because of the fur-trading) and from the New England states (as a result of British/American/Indian wars). The local Amerindians to my knowledge were never enslaved and in this case, his ancestor seemed to enjoy quite a lot of freedom. When he married a French Québécoise, his master’s nephew was one of the many witnesses. One of his more well-known descendants was a long-time premier of our province during the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

              Marcel Trudel, the illustrious Québec historian, wrote a book with a census of the slaves including their names, ages, tribe of origin and name of their master. So interesting!

              To me, DNA is fascinating but sometimes difficult to understand stuff. But we are so glad to have this link to Amerindians confirmed to some degree.

              I am looking forward to seeing if anyone else can contribute to this subject.
              I don't want to cause any upset but I will warn you that there are many calculators on GEDmatch and they will all have varying results. I would run through all of them and look for trends amongst the results and even make use of the Oracle results. An example from my own tree is that of a suspected Indian ancestor, a portion of my grandmother's maternal side lived in India for many generations, with one ancestor even noted to have an Indian wife (the couple in question). FTDNA does not show any percentage of Indian, however a significant number of calculators on GEDmatch show some percentage (2-5%), however I'm not certain of their validity, especially when it comes to small percentages under 2-5%.

              The 1700s is an awfully long time ago, and quite far back in terms of autosomal DNA inheritance (most tests reliably test to 6 generations or slightly more IIRC).However it is genetic inheritance and it isn't unheard of to inherit small sections of DNA you wouldn't expect to have.

              DNA testing is a powerful tool and it can be extremely useful in aiding ones genealogical research. I'm glad to hear that you are finding success with it. It does take time for the really brilliant discoveries to be made though, as more and more people test the higher our chances are of finding relatives!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Rhonda Hatton View Post
                Spruithean is right to a degree, though that does not mean that France is just a big mixture of everyone else's genetics. However, with that nation region is everything; the Pyrenees is populated with Basques (an Iberian people) but Bretons are descended of Welshmen who fled the Anglo-Saxons, Provence is rather Tuscan (perhaps the cause of your Southwestern European?) and Normandie to invasions by Scandinavian Vikings in the early Middle Ages. Your husband's heavy amount of Western European could be owing to an ancestor from a more central region like Bourgogne or the Loire Valley, maybe even Champagne. It's good to know a lot of history of the nation (and more specifically the region) where your ancestors come from so you better understand your results.
                Someone here said France suffers from lack of genetic sampling, and that is true: the French are an understudied and highly misunderstood population, from many different angles.
                Absolutely right. I will add that the French government's attempt to represent France as a unified ethnic group, descended from the Gauls, only dates from the Third Republic (19th century). It's a broad simplification (some might say revision) of history that's still affecting our perception today.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Agree about the paper trail and genetic trail. People hid things in order to survive and assimilate.Mine sure did.
                  Problem is.a lot are not willing or unable to use the tools.
                  That is why I am not looking at matches anymore.
                  Until someone contacts me on their own saying we match and wants
                  To work with me it’s a done deal.
                  I have not found any close immediate matches.
                  Ethnicity wise,I have only two.The second one has been basically verified.
                  Seems like every Ashkenazi has a high percentage and small amts of Sephardic,that have been matched with me.
                  Needless to say,it has not been a,positive experience.

                  Pp

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I don't bother about ethnicity results. My mother is at least 75% French and German, but MyOrigins gives her only 17% West and Central Europe. But This tells you a lot about MyOrigins:

                    My father 0% Sephardic
                    My mother <2% Sephardic
                    Me 14% Sephardic

                    That's a neat trick!

                    I think Western European populations have been mixing freely for so many thousands of years that there's very little genetic difference. Think of all the migrations of Germanic tribes, including the Franks, into France, think of all the wars, trade, travelers,individuals moving, clerics, the encouragement of foreign settlers after the 30 Years War. I think most of my ancestors in the Bas-Rhin area of France came fro Switzerland.

                    One of the more interesting things in this article https://www.theguardian.com/science/...erman-ancestry is the previously unknown migration from "France" to Britain sometime between the last Ice Age and the Norman invasion in 1066. I must say, that's not a very specific time frame!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The big thing is your list of matches. If they verify your tree, you're fine. If you find very close matches who are share a common ancestor, but who seem to be unconnected with anyone in your tree, you may have a problem! A Y-DNA test may turn up a non-paternal event, etc.

                      But as long as your matches support your tree, ignore your ethnicity results and go with your tree. The only problem, of course, is that at-DNA can only support a tree for a few recent generations. We soon reach the point where we have ancestors from whom we received no DNA, or at least no DNA that can be reliably measured. Your matches should confirm recent generations though.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Both Ancestry and another site include for example, areas as far north as England in "Iberia" map bubbles. The bubbles also extended over southern France, not northern and western France or the Benelux countries. So if the French ancestry is more from certain areas of France, like Bayonne or Marseilles, maybe this increases the Iberian. I do wish they would clarify "Iberian".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes, those...

                          Originally posted by gensrchr2 View Post
                          Both Ancestry and another site include for example, areas as far north as England in "Iberia" map bubbles. The bubbles also extended over southern France, not northern and western France or the Benelux countries. So if the French ancestry is more from certain areas of France, like Bayonne or Marseilles, maybe this increases the Iberian. I do wish they would clarify "Iberian".
                          I wish ancestry and FTDNA would get rid of those blobs and just map out the area instead of throwing our genetics up on a make-shift ''radar'' of sorts. These companies are good for matches, but they've got a long way to go in the realm of ethnic origins!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I don't know that they'll ever be able to do better with Western Europe. Too much mixing of peoples, too little variation in DNA. They should have had just two categories for Western Europe: North of the Alps (including the UK) and South of the Alps.

                            Even then, FTDNA can't seem to distinguish between Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

                            Why is it important to know your ethnicity anyway? It might help some adoptees perhaps. Otherwise, spend 20-30 years constructing an extremely accurate tree and you'll have a really good idea of your ethnicity. But why is it important? Your allegiance to a certain European country and to your family is, in most cases, more important than your ethnicity.

                            Ancestry.com has blown this ethnicity thing out of all proportion.

                            My city used to have Greek, Scottish, German, Italian, etc. festivals, one ethnicity a weekend in the summer. I enjoyed them all, whether or not I had any ancestor belonging to the particular ethnicity being celebrated.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              https://www.genealogyexplained.com/d...have-same-dna/

                              This is an interesting read for those of us who have questions about the differing ethnicity estimates siblings can get.

                              Comment

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