Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On the Border of Language

The current debate on immigration is fraught with difficulties on the language front (Never mind the issue itself.)
We've got stories referring to "undocumented workers" even when young kids are involved, "illegals" as a noun, "illegal aliens" which, while technically right under the law, sounds increasingly bizarre to my ear, "migrants" just plain "aliens" and more.

That's even before we get to the question of whether to use Latino or Hispanic. I heard someone on TV last night talk about setting things right for "the Latino and the Hispanic workers." Just covering all his bases, I guess.

We've also got a terrible muddling of facts and figures, many of which are creeping into stories as fact. For example, we seem to have settled on the figure of 12 million people here illegally. But a few months ago, we were hearing figures of from 6 million to 20 million.

And, suddenly, the matter of how many of them are Hispanic, specifically Mexican or something else has arisen again. At the same time that we have people arguing that there is no such thing as illegal immigration because the land once belonged to the natives and most Latin Americans are at least a mix of Spanish and Native, we have some arguing that, at most, only half of the illegally arrived are Mexican, with no further breakdown. It's enough to give us all a giant Ból głowy.

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