International terms of mystery

November 13, 2005|By JUNE CASAGRANDE

If "immigrate" means to come into one country from another, then it's not the right word to describe a family's move from Maine to California, right?

Don't answer too fast. I did, and, as a result, I'm writing to report yet another of my own adorable, charming errors. Perhaps my most adorable and charming ever.

A few weeks ago, I took on reader Harry Avant's observation about a passage by L.A. Times writer Michael Hiltzik.

Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, wrote: "Born in 1939 to a French Canadian family in Maine, he immigrated with them to California at age 7."


Avant observed, "It seems to me that immigrated is not correct since he did not change country of residence only location within a country. What is your opinion?"

A little too eager to tear a Pulitzer winner down to my own level, I dove into my reference books, such as the "Garner's Modern American Usage," which notes:

"Immigrate = to migrate into or enter (a country). Emigrate = to migrate away from or exit (a country). In other words, immigrate considers the movement from the perspective of the destination; emigrate considers it from the perspective of the departure point."

More simply put by the "Associated Press Stylebook": "One who leaves a country emigrates from it. One who comes into a country immigrates."

The Chicago Manual of Style agrees that both words refer to crossing an international border. Webster's leaves a little more wiggle room.

So, with a snicker, I declared Hiltzik's word choice to be sub-par.

That little snicker always gets me in trouble. This time, trouble came in the form of one David A. Hughes of Newport Beach, who wrote, "In 1846 California was a province of Mexico, while Maine was a state in the United States of America. History sometimes trumps grammar."

And with that, I have a new all-time favorite mistake.

So don't expect to see anytime soon a new column by me titled, "A Moment in History, Please."

And if you do, don't be surprised to learn that the Spanish-American War was fought by Yugoslavia and Brunei or that the Battle of 1812 took place in 1688.

Fresh from my defeat on "immigrated," I now delve into another subject I'm under-qualified to discuss. Anahid in Glendale writes, "A friend and I are in disagreement over the usage of 'Hispanic' and 'Latino' adjectives. He is adamant that the former is correct, while I opt for the latter. Which is the preferred/accurate/correct form, if there is one?"

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