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If I was conceived during a romantic vacation in Paris but was born some months later in Ohio, would it be right to say "my parents had me in Paris" or "my parents had me in Ohio"? Does "having" a child refer to the time of conception or that of birth?

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  • "conceived during a romantic vacation in Paris but was born some months later in Ohio" - what a contrast! Jul 9 '20 at 16:33
  • @MichaelHarvey, that example is of course made up. The question arose during a conversation with my friend, who was conceived in Israel but was born some months later in Canada.
    – Avish
    Jul 11 '20 at 16:40
  • Birth, always and exclusively. Why would you doubt that? Jul 11 '20 at 21:04
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In most English-speaking countries (I can't think of a counter-example, but who knows?), it is a taboo to discuss one's sexual activities and those of others in public. Childbirth, however, even though it usually is the result of sexual activity, is not a taboo at all.

Ergo, we celebrate our birthdays, and freely discuss when a woman gave birth to a child. When and how she became pregnant is normally not a topic that is widely discussed.

So when we say a woman had a child in January, we don't mean she conceived in January, but that she delivered a baby in January. "Having a baby" = "giving birth".

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  • It is OK to discuss such matters in Britain, at least with friends and close colleagues. Jul 9 '20 at 16:34
  • Like most taboos, there are situations where they can be broken - they are not absolute, and some of them (like this one) are slowly becoming less strict. I don't think, however, that when the expression "she had a baby last fall" became common, it was considered acceptable to discuss the conception in polite company.
    – oerkelens
    Jul 9 '20 at 16:40
  • It has not always polite to discuss, but the mental subtraction of nine months from a birth date has been around forever. Jul 9 '20 at 16:47
  • The difference between what's said and what's thought is what makes taboos so interesting ;) And even if everyone does it, the results are (were?) not always openly discussed (even if behind closed doors the scandal grew because they only got married 7 months ago...)
    – oerkelens
    Jul 9 '20 at 16:52
  • I just find the word 'taboo' a bit strong for contemporary British society in this regard. We aren't as stiff as we used to be, by a very long way. Jul 9 '20 at 17:30

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