THIS is my 50th column, and in less than two weeks, "Language Speaks" will be a year old. I thought my column's 50th release could be the best time to begin talking about a topic relating to language that I have been largely involved in the last half-decade now. In 2019, I started talking about what I call "migration linguistics," or "the interdisciplinary and multidimensional study of the various aspects of language within the dynamic process of human mobility." For the purposes of today's column, that definition shall suffice, and I shall discuss more of this emerging subfield of linguistics in another column. For now, I want to set the context for my subsequent columns on migration linguistics by presenting the key trends and issues in international migration today.

Just last week, the World Migration Report 2024 was released, and there are many important pieces of information from it that are definitely important to our current discussion. First, it is estimated that there are 281 million international migrants around the world today. This, therefore, means that the number does not include domestic migrants. If domestic migrants are included, the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that one in every seven people is a migrant. But 281 million international migrants are only 3.6 percent of the global population. And though that number has grown from the estimated 150 million — or 2.8 percent of the global population —in 2000, the global population has also grown, overshadowing the substantial increase in international migrants.

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