Another Reason Language is SO Important

Boat people
Boat People
And another way we can be stronger client advocates

The words used to talk about the growing global refugee crisis shape public opinion in subtle, but powerful ways, according to two recent articles in the Washington Post and the Guardian.

“Swarms of migrants”.  “Inundated with boat people”.  “Illegal”.  “Expat”.

There are even more serious implications for descriptions of ‘political’ or ‘economic’ motivations and the image projected by countries of origin like Eritrea and Burma.

I wish I could provide more insightful analysis, but the following quotes do a better job.

 “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status.”  (The Guardian)

Expats.  Photo credit:  Alamy


“We don’t call middle-class Europeans who take regular holidays abroad ‘EasyJet people,’ or the super-rich of Monaco ‘yacht people….It strikes me as a way, intentional or not, of avoiding discussing the reasons why refugees from Burma, for instance, take those boats and why other countries are reluctant to give them asylum.”  (Daniel Trilling, editor of the New Humanist in the Washington Post)

How can we make a positive contribution to the terminology used to talk about our clients?

Click here for additional ideas from an Irish inter-faith organization about terminology that conveys more positive nuances.

Tell us what you  think by commenting on this post.



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