Sunday, August 16, 2009
It is Immigrant Week that you asked for, and it is Immigrant Week you shall have. I had actually planned on this week being "Chain Gang" week, but several people requested a week on pictures of Immigrants, so that is what we will do. This picture shows a boat of Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. It was taken in 1907. I really love the look of exuberance on the little girl's face. You can only imagine how happy they were to arrive in America, the land of opportunity.
OK, this is what I find very confusing . . . the difference between Immigrants and Emigrants. English teachers get really fired up about this one, and I have trouble keeping the two straight. For example, lets say these people are arriving from Ireland. If their departure from Ireland was reported in an Irish newspaper, the headline would read, "Emigrants depart for America". When they arrived, a New York newspaper would report, "Immigrants arrive in America". Same people, but in one case they are Immigrants, and in the other case they are Emigrants. So, you might ask, at what point in the trip did they transform from Emigrants to Immigrants. The answer is that it is not that simple . . . If Ireland reported their arrival in the US, they would report, "Emigrants arrive in America". You see to Ireland they are still Emigrants. Now, things can get even more confusing. Lets say the woman in the picture is from Ireland. When she was in Ireland, she would refer to the other people on the boat as "Emigrants". But, the day after she landed, another boat from Ireland lands. Should the woman who is from Ireland, and only one day in the US, refer to the new arrivals as Emigrants or Immigrants? You see, I think that you can create scenarios where it is almost impossible to figure out whether the word Emigrant or Immigrant should be used. I propose that in order to make things simpler, we need a new word, Imigrant (with one m), and we let this become the word to be used in all cases. I think things would be much simpler with this simple adjustment.