Migrant vs. immigrant/emigrant

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Tape2Tape, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. Tape2Tape

    Tape2Tape Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    British English, Spain
    Hello again,
    Following much translation of themes regarding immigration I've noticed that where I used to see the word "immigrant" (someone coming in) and less frequently "emigrant" (someone going out) I seem to be seeing the word migrant (usually migrant workers) used.

    Is this just another in a long line of PC-isms (that's political correctness, not computers or police constables!!) where the words handicapped and disabled have been replaced by special needs, or gitanos are now referred to in the Spanish press as personas de etnia gitana, or is it that migrant is a catch-all term for those leaving the country (often) for good... as well for as those coming in?

    Or is it that migrant suggests these people are only passing through and have an intention to return, just like birds who migrate to warmer countries for the winter?

    And finally, is there a Spanish equivalent for migrant - distinct from immigrant etc. - that can be used for people, not just birds?

    Maybe the word is not so common in other English-speaking countries, but the UK press seem to use migrant workers (the expression, I don't mean they hire them!) a lot.

    Thanks in advance
  2. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    I've seen "poblaciones/trabajadores en tránsito", but not very often.
    I'm not saying it's accurate, it's just another instance of political correctness twisting the truth.
  3. mal67 Senior Member

    US - English
    I don't think it's necessarily an example of PC-speak. It may be an attempt to add a nuance in order to be more accurate.

    To me, immigrant and emigrant have permanent -- or at least, longer-lasting -- connotations, whereas "migrant worker" might also indicate someone who takes a short-term or seasonal job in another country or area (note that it need not be a cross-border thing: economists sometimes speak of rural to urban labor migration). E.g., in agricultural work there are a lot of migrant workers, and they're not necessarily planning to stay (i.e., they're not immigrants or emigrants); they may simply come and go depending on the planting/harvest seasons, while returning to their place of origin (or moving on to another place) during the off-season.
  4. arcadio buendia New Member

    mexico español
    All are correct words.
    migrant (migrante): someone who leaves a place and goes to another, no reference to direction or duration. Used for animals and humans.
    emigrant (emigrante) Who moves out from a place or country to live/work in another.
    immigrant(inmigrante) Who comes into a place or country to live/work.

    When you read "migrant workers" they're talking about people who have to move from one place to another in search of work. It could be a transient or permanent stay and does not imply any particular way or direction.
  5. Jorge Jodra Senior Member

    Spanish- Spain
    I completely agree with arcadio buendia.

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