Monday, April 15, 2013

Style Is In The Eye Of the Beholder

I have to say that I am surprised at all the sloppy reporting being done on the change to the AP Style Guide! Their recent change to the wording regarding "illegal immigrant" has me, quite amused.

The Associated Press says that they are banning the phrase "Illegal Immigrant" as a sloppy reporting tool and because "Illegal," should be applied only to the action of entering or living in a country and not to the person doing it. What RUBBUSH!  

What the AP is describing is the Adverb "illegally!" Their assertion is linguistically unfounded. They assert that the Adjective "illegal" should be applied to the Verb "to immigrate" which is, grammatically speaking, completely wrong. They state that it is preferable to phrase the story as "people who are in the country illegally."

There have also been a number of stories that I have seen that claim that "immigrant" applies only to those who intend to stay in the country permanently, but this is also a red herring. An "immigrant" is defined as "one who immigrates." To "immigrate" is to "enter or to establish oneself within a location, usually a country of which one is not a native." There are dictionaries that I have seen that specify that is usually applies only to such changes which are permanent, but that point is open to debate. The problem is that the labeling of "illegal" as anything but an adjective is grammatically sloppy and to cave to the political correctness of the "people aren't illegal, actions are" crowd shows a lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the AP. If the AP meant to say that "illegal" is not a valid adjective, then we have a whole mess of revisions to do.

We are now going to have to talk about "vehicles which are on the road without legal documentation" instead of illegal vehicles; there are no more illegal moves in chess, they are henceforth "moves not officially sanctioned by the established rules of the game;" and of course, it was all those "communications devices officially outlawed by the order of the invading forces of the Third Reich" and not the illegal radios that were used to get news to the resistance.

Wherever you are today I hope you will have the integrity to say what you mean.

Don Bergquist – April 15, 2013 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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