Who is an alien?, an ESL story for the teaching of vocabulary: The word ‘alien’ is derived from the Latin alienus, which means stranger, foreign, etc. It is often used in social and political contexts. It refers to a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country. We also speak about alien creatures, i.e.  extraterrestrial creatures. There is also the concept of political alienation. You become a political alien when you have distanced yourself from the political process of your nation.

Once, the students of B.A Political Science had this question for their university examination:

Who is an alien?

Most of the students knew what political alienation was. But the cream of an answer came from a Malayali student who had not even heard of the English word ‘alien’. He could only think of the Malayalam word ‘alien’ (അളിയന്‍) and wrote this answer:

“Aliens can be of two types; one is your wife’s brother and the other is your sister’s husband.”

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