What’s in a word?

There’s a rather interest piece of linguistic legerdemain on the Telegraph’s website:

One in four babies born in the UK now have a foreign mother or father, Government figures have revealed.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the year to July 2006 showed the proportion of babies born to a foreign parent has risen to 25 per cent compared with 20 per cent in 2001.

I wonder if the ONS has ever thought of compiling statistics on stroke incidence rates in conservatives following the publication of stories like us? It’s a thought…

…however, if one looks a little further down the page – a matter of only a paragraph or so – one finds a rather important word has been omitted from the Telegraph’s opening gambit:

A number of trends have produced the rise, including an increase in births to both UK-born mothers and foreign-born women, an ONS spokesman said.

“We have figures for the contribution of mothers and fathers born abroad and that has risen slightly from under 20 per cent in 2001 to slightly over 25 per cent now,” he said.

“That reflects the cumulative effect of immigration over the last 40 years.”

So despite the obvious implications of the reference to ‘a foreign mother or father’ – i.e. that we’re dealing exclusively with people who are not British citizens – what the statistics actually deal with is people who were merely born in a foreign country, which will include those who are not British citizens, of course, but also those British citizens who were born overseas but whose families later returned to the UK and anyone who may have once been a foreign national but who has since naturalised as a British citizen either by choice or by way of marriage to a British citizen.

Before the obligatory ‘we’re being swamped by furriners’ nonsense kicks off, its well worth pointing out that ‘foreign born’ and ‘not British’ are by no means synonymous.

  • The Guardian fell into the same trap.

  • There really ought to be better education on interpretation of such numbers for meejah. And also of course for doctors and other clinicians who are absolutely pants at assessing risk. Which sounds a bit risky really.

  • Quite so. My cousin married a bloke who was born in Germany. He is, however, fairly British – his parents were there because his dad was in the Army.

    I suppose that Cliff Richard isn’t British now. Still did you see the other Torygraph idiocy on Tom Hamilton’s blog – http://letsbesensible.blogspot.com/2007/08/arguing-into-void.html – where the pundit writes an entire article based on the fact he can’t tell the difference between ‘half’ and ‘all’.

    I thought that the Telegraph were the intelligent Tories?

  • scary that this goes out uncommented upon. aprt from your good self of course

  • Do you really think there is no problem with our current migration strategy?

    I’d love to hear your view on this. Mine is no doubt very contrary to yours, but I am amazed that such an easy attitude could be held on the left.

    After all it is the poorest whites who have most to lose form the current phase of mass migration? Surely that is solid Labour territory?

  • CS, my preference is that we discuss migration on the basis of accurate information, which is the point I was making here. If we’re to debate such matters then the least we can do is make it an honest debate.

  • Newbury Blogwatcher

    Couldn’t agree more – Get comment on the different slant a story can be given – SOOOOOO easily.