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melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 06:33 PM
My current wip is about a young Mexican man trying to sneak into the US. He's helped by coyotes (men who get you across the border for a price) and he interacts with several other people in his position.

The problem is I don't know what to call these people. They aren't illegal immigrants, or illegals, because they're still in Mexico. Part of the story takes place in the desert on the US side, but I don't want to suddenly change what I'm calling them at the end of the book. Several people have names, but while in the desert he sees other groups of people trying to cross and I can't figure out what to call them!

I'm open to slang or derogatory expressions, but most of them only refer to Mexicans already in the US illegally. I really appreciate your input.

Prozyan
08-15-2008, 06:37 PM
Is there a need to label them? I mean, is it important to the story for them to have a specific label?

If not, just refer to them as your MC would.

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 06:41 PM
That's what I've been doing but it starts to get confusing. At one point I have several groups hiding in the desert. One starts running, then the other group jumps up, and I feel like it's nothing but "this man" then "that man" and "the woman."

waylander
08-15-2008, 06:54 PM
Pligrims?

lostgirl
08-15-2008, 06:57 PM
refugees?

Bmwhtly
08-15-2008, 07:00 PM
I believe there is a word.

I only believe that because of Babel. But I can't for the life of me remember it.
If I do, I'll let you know.

DeleyanLee
08-15-2008, 07:01 PM
One emmigrates from one country to become an immigrant in another country.

Does that help?

quickWit
08-15-2008, 07:05 PM
Travelers
Journeymen

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:06 PM
I believe there is a word.

I only believe that because of Babel. But I can't for the life of me remember it.
If I do, I'll let you know.

Please let me know if you do! I have the movie - that sounds like a good excuse to watch it. The scenery in parts of the movie are guiding me with my wip.


One emmigrates from one country to become an immigrant in another country.

Does that help?

Yes, but do you call those people emmigrants?

jannawrites
08-15-2008, 07:08 PM
So you're looking for a technical term that's already in use for this purpose? Or you want help making one up?

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:08 PM
Travelers
Journeymen

Travelers is in the right direction. I keep thinking "seekers of a better life" but that's a little wordy, lol.

DeleyanLee
08-15-2008, 07:08 PM
Yep. Emmigrants are people who leave their country to go live somewhere else. Just standard English.

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:08 PM
So you're looking for a technical term that's already in use for this purpose? Or you want help making one up?

Preferably one that already exists, but if we can make up a word that make sense and works, that's cool too.

Bmwhtly
08-15-2008, 07:13 PM
but if we can make up a word that make sense and works, that's cool too.Smizmar.

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:14 PM
Smizmar.

Yes, yes, that's it. Perfect. ;)

Prozyan
08-15-2008, 07:20 PM
I've heard them referred to as "cargo" here. Being relatively close to El Paso, we see a lot of that traffic.

Of course, that is what the coyotes and BP agents call them.

I've heard illegals refer to each other as "migrants".

jannawrites
08-15-2008, 07:21 PM
Travelers is in the right direction. I keep thinking "seekers of a better life" but that's a little wordy, lol.

I think I got myself confoozeled. You mean the guys crossing the line into the US, or the ones helping them?

ETA: I'm s l o w this morning.

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:22 PM
I think I got myself confoozeled. You mean the guys crossing the line into the US, or the ones helping them?

The ones crossing. The ones helping are coyotes.

Prozyan, I hadn't heard that. It makes sense.

jannawrites
08-15-2008, 07:27 PM
The ones crossing. The ones helping are coyotes.

Prozyan, I hadn't heard that. It makes sense.

Ah, yes. Now I remember you mentioned coyotes already. ;)

I like "cargo." I can hear the coyotes talking back and forth to one another (if there's more than one).

"Get that cargo over here, and keep him down! BP's just up the hill!"

Or whatever, cuz, you know, you're the one writing it.

:D

quickWit
08-15-2008, 07:28 PM
If the helpers are Coyotes perhaps you should refer to the crossers as some other kind of desert animal like jackrabbits or something? Just another avenue to consider. :)

Priene
08-15-2008, 07:31 PM
Migrants.

(Incidentally, there's only one 'm' in emigrants)

lostgirl
08-15-2008, 07:33 PM
If the helpers are Coyotes perhaps you should refer to the crossers as some other kind of desert animal like jackrabbits or something? Just another avenue to consider. :)

Witters quit trying to weasel into Hoo's story.. :e2tongue:

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:38 PM
Migrants.

(Incidentally, there's only one 'm' in emigrants)

I knew there was a word. That works, thank you.

(I didn't think that looked right, thanks.)

Shadow_Ferret
08-15-2008, 07:39 PM
He's helped by coyotes (men who get you across the border for a price) Glad you explained that. I thought you were writing about Mogli or something. ;)

Would the word runners work?

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:39 PM
Ah, yes. Now I remember you mentioned coyotes already. ;)

I like "cargo." I can hear the coyotes talking back and forth to one another (if there's more than one).

"Get that cargo over here, and keep him down! BP's just up the hill!"

Or whatever, cuz, you know, you're the one writing it.

:D

LOL. The only problem is it's not told from the coyotes perspective. I meant to say that earlier - the MC wouldn't refer to himself as cargo.


If the helpers are Coyotes perhaps you should refer to the crossers as some other kind of desert animal like jackrabbits or something? Just another avenue to consider. :)

Jackalope? :)

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:40 PM
Glad you explained that. I thought you were writing about Mogli or something. ;)

Would the word runners work?

I think I do call them that at one point. So far I think migrants sounds the best, but I don't have the a-ha feeling, so please keep them coming!

jannawrites
08-15-2008, 07:42 PM
LOL. The only problem is it's not told from the coyotes perspective. I meant to say that earlier - the MC wouldn't refer to himself as cargo.


Oh, I see. Makes sense. In that case, I like Shadow Ferret's suggestion of runner. But it looks like you're diggin' migrant.

:)

Prozyan
08-15-2008, 07:51 PM
Other than "migrant", I'm not sure illegals have an all-inclusive word to describe themselves. Most of the ones I know are from either coyote slang or BP. Here are some, maybe one will stick:

cajuelazos

contraband

merca (short for mercancia or merchandise)

pollo (yes, it means chicken, but is also spanglish for people being smuggled across)

mojado, which is basically Mexican for "wetback"

pateros, particularly around the Rio Grande and Rio Bravo area since the boats used to cross are called "pato".

melaniehoo
08-15-2008, 07:53 PM
Ooh, I have heard pollo and mojado. I could use either of those & just explain them early on. I like the idea of using a spanish term, or something slang.

You'd think my husband would be more help with this, but I can't use his suggestion (wannabe wetbacks).

vixey
08-15-2008, 07:59 PM
Other than "migrant", I'm not sure illegals have an all-inclusive word to describe themselves. Most of the ones I know are from either coyote slang or BP. Here are some, maybe one will stick:

cajuelazos

contraband

merca (short for mercancia or merchandise)

pollo (yes, it means chicken, but is also spanglish for people being smuggled across)

mojado, which is basically Mexican for "wetback"

pateros, particularly around the Rio Grande and Rio Bravo area since the boats used to cross are called "pato".

As I read through this thread I thought a Spanish word might work here, too. (But I don't speak Spanish so I couldn't offer a suggestion :tongue.)

smcc360
08-16-2008, 12:05 AM
The Border Patrol guys call them 'tonks'.

melaniehoo
08-16-2008, 12:57 AM
The Border Patrol guys call them 'tonks'.

Oh yeah? Do you know what that comes from, by any chance?

Ziljon
08-16-2008, 01:13 AM
émigrés is a better word than emigrants.

melaniehoo
08-18-2008, 08:50 PM
I'm back. :) My husband thinks pollo is a good one, and he recalls brasero being used when he was a kid.

If there are more suggestions, I'd love to hear them

colettak
08-18-2008, 08:55 PM
How about something like hopefuls. They're hoping for a new life, and it just seems nice. Plus, you can qualify the word easily.

Prozyan
08-19-2008, 07:20 AM
Pollo might be your best bet. Mojado isn't exactly a term of endearment :tongue

melaniehoo
08-19-2008, 05:26 PM
Pollo might be your best bet. Mojado isn't exactly a term of endearment :tongue

Also, my husband pointed out that mojado means wet, which would be those who already crossed.

melaniehoo
08-19-2008, 05:27 PM
I'd vote for "migrants" also.

I recently read a book (http://www.amazon.com/Enriques-Journey-Sonia-Nazario/dp/0812971787/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219116855&sr=8-1) on the subject, but it was a library book, so I don't have it here to look at to see what they called themselves. But I think "migrants" is a good all-purpose word, which everyone knows, and which isn't derogatory.

Right. I think for now I might stick with migrants while I search for the perfect word. It beats the "others" - which just makes me think they've dropped into an episode of Lost, lol.

smcc360
08-24-2008, 04:15 PM
Oh yeah? Do you know what that comes from, by any chance?

Sorry I took so long coming back.

They tell me that they call illegal border-crossers 'tonks' because that's the noise they make when you hit them with a D-cell flashlight.

I've heard the term from Border Patrol guys around the southwest, but I have a feeling I'm getting my leg pulled as to the actual derivation of the word.

bonobo_jones
08-24-2008, 04:23 PM
Migrants, definitely.
Have you read Ted Conover's book about travelling with the migrants? Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America's Illegal Aliens It was published 20 years ago, but I'm thinking much of the background info is evergreen. And like all of his books, it's an excellent read.

Bayou Bill
08-24-2008, 04:57 PM
My current wip is about a young Mexican man trying to sneak into the US. He's helped by coyotes (men who get you across the border for a price) and he interacts with several other people in his position.

The problem is I don't know what to call these people. They aren't illegal immigrants, or illegals, because they're still in Mexico. Part of the story takes place in the desert on the US side, but I don't want to suddenly change what I'm calling them at the end of the book. Several people have names, but while in the desert he sees other groups of people trying to cross and I can't figure out what to call them!

I'm open to slang or derogatory expressions, but most of them only refer to Mexicans already in the US illegally. I really appreciate your input.
IM (very) HO, it depends on the POV of your narrator. If, for instance, you use an omni third-person POV, then "migrants" might work. But if the MC is your narrator, then the term should sound hispanic. Just FWIW, my picks would be "pollo" or "majado" simply because I like the sound and the slightly perjoritive, self-deprecating connotation.

"Migrant" will work, but it comes with a possible problem. As a noun, it's fine, but it's often used an adjective and that could confuse some readers.

noun: traveler who moves from one region or country to another

adjective: habitually moving from place to place especially in search of seasonal work; "appalled by the social conditions of migrant life"; "migratory workers"

This link is to an article about human-smuggling terms used along the AZ/Mexico border:
http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special42/articles/0720Online-Drophouse-Terms.html

Whatever term you pick, define it early and be consistent.

Bayou Bill :cool: