Monday, January 19, 2009

Oxymoron of the week:

"Indigenous immigrants".

I'm not sure if these people -- that is, the people who wrote and published those words -- simply have no idea of what the words mean, or if they have deeper conceptual problems with the idea that an individual word can have any such thing as "meaning" at all. There's a research paper waiting to be written there.

This idea provided free for anyone who wants to run with it.


Ruby Apolline said...

Oh dear. How embarrassing. I think my vote is for the sloppy use of the term "indigenous" as a synonym for "brown" with a touch of "uncoolly primitive." More generously, perhaps the writer meant "indigenous to Mexico" and just got lazy.

That's still inaccurate though; by any reasonable current definition of "indigenous people," all Mexicans are. They've just managed to create a third, entirely separate culture from the "indigenous" and Spanish ones. Maybe the Trique Mexicans are extra, extra indigenous?

Finally, I would like to here lodge my protest against the use of the words "indigenous" or "native" to describe any human population, except that of middle Africa.

That is all. You may proceed.

vet said...

Ruby, I think your first interpretation is probably accurate. "Indigenous" is, I presume, the currently-PC term for people with that particular genetic makeup, no matter where they are.

In other words: the word's useful meaning has been sacrificed, so that some lazy journalists can avoid giving offence to some hypothetical people somewhere.

Well, used this way, it causes offence to me. Does that count for anything?

Eric Lester said...

I had to read the article. Sheesh.

Ruby's nailed it. "Indigenous" in this case is practically inverted. My Dictionary program brings up a 1913 Webster definition with "not exotic; not imported."

We are so obsessed with racism in this country that we can't even talk anymore. There is no need to describe people in this way. Physical descriptions are useful to law enforcement personnel when identifying persons of interest; beyond that, it would be refreshing to see this "information" omitted from the news.

The article starts out describing the suspect as a "California man," and that's probably enough. He could, if necessary, be described as a person with a certain cultural background, which might explain his otherwise incredibly bizarre behavior.

Unfortunately, to remedy this would require actual writing and editing, accessories that -- as far as I can tell -- have been dispensed with in most USA "news" reporting. The three of us have probably spent more time on this article than its original creator.