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I am looking for a word that refers to the country in which one's parents were born. Something similar to mother-tongue except for location instead of language?

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Similar to mother-tongue? But that's the language you were brought up with as a child. Which is not necessarily the mother-tongue of your mother. Each of your parents has a mother-tongue and birthland (either or both of which they may have in common). You also have your mother-tongue and birthland, which may be the same or different to either or both of your parents. –  FumbleFingers Feb 6 at 2:44
    
Good question. Inappropriate example. Please remove the example and if possible use another. –  Kris Feb 6 at 6:38
    
@FumbleFingers Now that's an interesting complication there. If the parents speak different languages and the child is brought up in an environment of a third language, how would one define 'mother tongue'? Many children today have their 'nationality' more by choice than prescription. So it would be with language? –  Kris Feb 6 at 6:42
    
@Kris The children grow up being bilingual or trilingual. I have cousins who switch from Italian, French (parents) and English (native land) with ease. I would say that mother tongue describes the use of a single language. –  Mari-Lou A Feb 6 at 7:22
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I would say: "My parents' homeland" –  Mari-Lou A Feb 6 at 7:35

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Perhaps motherland

one's native land or, sometimes, the land of one's ancestors; a country thought of as originator or source

Similarly fatherland

a person's native land or country; the land or country of one's ancestors

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I think either this isn't the right answer, or OP doesn't quite understand what he's asking. One's mother/father/birthland might be "the country in which one's parents were born". But then again it might not. –  FumbleFingers Feb 6 at 2:47
    
@FumbleFingers I agree that both terms are somewhat vague. I can't think of a term that is explicitly limited to the land of your parents birth, other than parents' place of birth. Both motherland and fatherland convey an attitude as much as a location. –  bib Feb 6 at 2:51
    
-1 'Ancestors' does not necessarily include immediate parents and often does not. –  Kris Feb 6 at 6:36
    
@FumbleFingers I agree with you, to a non-native speaker the words; motherland and fatherland deceptively look like words that refer directly to your parents' birthplaces. –  Mari-Lou A Feb 6 at 7:39
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"Fatherland" might have unwanted connotations of Nazi Germany. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatherland –  nohat Feb 6 at 9:37

It's worth looking at some figures from Google Books here...

1 - predominantly OUR
our/my motherland 79,600 / 22,200
our/my fatherland 105,000 / 53,800
our/my homeland 160,000 / 88,500

2 - predominantly MY
our/my birthland 105 / 431
our/my native land 130,000 / 234,000
land of our/my birth 130,000 / 256,000


The above results suggest to me that mother/father/homeland are primarily associated with identifying shared biological and cultural origins. When an individual simply wants to identify his personal background, he's likely to avoid terms which are primarily nationalistic/militaristic...

defend the/our/my motherland 8,470 / 8,060 / 186
fight for the/our/my fatherland 48,500 / 1,320 / 237
the/our/my homeland security 1,780,000 / 122,000 / 600


Quite apart from those connotations (which are presumably unwanted in OP's context), there's a literal/figurative clash in forms such as my father's motherland, my parent's fatherland, etc. Plus there's obviously no reason to mention your parents' origins at all unless they're different to yours. But if you have to, the general preference is quite clear...

my parents' motherland 5
my parents' fatherland 4
my parents' homeland 1,150 <--- (as per Mari-Lou's earlier comment)
my parents' birthland 2
my parents' native land 158
land of my parents' birth 78

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@Mari-Lou: Sorry! Attribution noted! –  FumbleFingers Feb 7 at 1:15
    
Technically, of course, my parents’ birthland(s) and land(s) of my parents’ birth(s) are the only two options that fit exactly. One's homeland, motherland, fatherland, or native land is not necessarily the same country one was born in. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 7 at 1:24
    
@Janus: I'd certainly use birthland if it was important to be precise about "natal location", but given OP likens his target word to mother tongue I lean towards homeland as more evocative of "the land you grew up in" (as per "the language you grew up using most naturally and fluently"). –  FumbleFingers Feb 7 at 1:37

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