Go to the RBIRD Home Page
Ask Marivi: Expert guidance about design for Latin appeal.

Hispanic or Latino?
Post a Comment | View Comments (26)

The US government, trying to find a correct term for this group of people immigrating to the US and speaking Spanish, came up with the term "Hispanic" for it is the language the most important fact that ties all people coming from Spain, Mexico, Central and South America.

In reality many Hispanics do not like being called this and they prefer the term "Latino" followed by naming the country of origin. ie: "...yes I am Latino/a but Mexican, Colombian, and so on...". I agree with many other Hispanics in not liking the term "Hispanic". It sounds a little disrespectful to me. However, I think it's the most appropiate word for describing this minority group. "Latino/a" person could be anyone coming from Latin America and not living in the US. But a Hispanic is an immigrant.

Comments

Posted by: SC at January 15, 2003 3:31 PM

Seems like the distinction is one of familiarity. From an organizational perspective (The US Government), the term "Hispanic" may be appropriate for an entire group of people, in the same calculating way "Caucasian" is used to describe white people, or a massive corporation might refer to their employees as "human assets". It's just a way to distinguish one thing from another, like a desk from a paper shreader.

From a more personal perspective, I wouldn't really think of referring to my best friend as Caucasian. He's too famiar to me to use such a cold term. Instead, I might say he's "Californian at heart", identifying his place of origin and injecting some kind of culture or attitude that might be different from someone who's a "Southerner at heart".

The term "Hispanic" categorizes an entire group of people based on the derivation of their natural language. It's cold and impersonal, and basically erases any notion of personal and cultural heritage. "Latina Puerto Rican", on the other hand, seems more intimate, personal and specific, even familiar.

Posted by: Aaron at January 17, 2003 10:35 PM

I've always wondered: Why is it called "Latin America?" Where's the "Latin" root from?

Posted by: Marivi at January 19, 2003 3:52 AM

Aaron, I hope my insights into what "Latin" America is, helps clarify where it comes from.

The Latin root comes from a local tongue spoken in Italy in ancient times [1000 B.C]. It soon spreaded over all the country becoming the literacy model of the Roman Empire!

"Latin" countries speak a derivative of the Roman Empire first language, Latin, including Spanish, French, Portuguese, which are also called "Romance Languages." Countries located in North America, South America, Central America, West Indies, French West Indies and Puerto Rico are then called Latin "American" countries. Latin America is comprised of 20 countries which are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. [ I hope I don't forget one ].

Posted by: Laura at March 17, 2003 8:07 PM

I research the information that the Census releases for my job, and just want to point out that the government does not include Brazilians in the 'Hispanic' category. Only those country where the official language is Spanish.
Also, in California, Hispanic is not a legal term, and the census forms there use the term Latino.
It's basically trivia, but it demonstrates that even the government is divided in the 'proper' terminology.

Posted by: Marivi at March 28, 2003 7:09 PM

I wonder how Brazilians are considered. They come from Latin America as well as the rest of us. I understand why they are not considered or called "Hispanics", (because they speak Portuguese). But are they not considered 'Latinos" as well? I think they are.

The day I went to the DMV to take my driver's license written test, there was a Brazilian young girl, who asked to take the test in Spanish instead of English. I was surprised. Later I asked her why she prefered it that way, and she said that she felt more confident taking the test in Spanish.

Posted by: Miguel at June 8, 2003 5:54 AM

I am sorry, but yes, you did forget one --Puerto Rico. Although Puerto Rico is not an independent country it is still Latin American as all other spanish speaking locations in our hemisphere. Just for the benefit of your other readers, Puerto Rico is part of the USA and makes up the second largest Latino population in the USA.

Posted by: Marivi at June 9, 2003 3:01 PM

Miguel, thanks for your comment. Actually if you read carefully what I posted above, you'll notice that I DID mention/include Puerto Rico. How could I forget such an important group of Latinos.

Posted by: Louie at July 17, 2003 6:38 PM

I think Brazilians are not Hispanics because their language ( Portuguese) and culture differ tremendously from their neighbors in Latin America. In retrospect, Brazilians are not related to any Spanish speaking country in any way. I would think that the only similarity is their passion for soccer which is very popular in every Latin American country. I think we should stop categorizing nations and their people, especially a country full of diversity such as Brazil.

Posted by: Loretta at August 16, 2003 6:10 AM

When I think of the word Latino, I think of it as a word to describe anyone of Latin or Central American descent, or any one of Spanish speaking descent. I find the word Hispanic offensive, coined in the Nixon era to pigeonhole any Spanish speaking person into a category that defined them according to "immigrant" status. HISpanic, the man's panic comes to mind. Am I wrong? Does anybody see this? Do we have to be defined by an antiquated, useless government term we did not create? Or can we define ourselves and refuse labels and categories imposed by others? Let's define ourselves! Yes, granted, the cultures differ tremedously across the board, but we should use our similarities to unite and stengthen, rather than let them divide us into a state of political weakness.

Posted by: Britflick at August 23, 2003 1:53 AM

I'm british researching the Americas.. would someone from Aruba be called 'Latin' or hispanic. Even though the island is colonised by the dutch it is in Latin America

Posted by: Laline at September 24, 2003 10:32 PM

Since the official language in Aruba is not Spanish, its citizens would fall in the Latino category.

Posted by: Marivi at September 25, 2003 2:42 PM

Steven: Aruba as you mention is a Dutch colony and I would group it as part of the Caribbean, not in Latin America. The fact that is very close physically to Venezuela or Colombia which are considered Latin American countries doesn't make it Latin. Remember that Latin American countries are the ones that speak a derivative of a Romance language.

Posted by: Marivi at September 25, 2003 2:44 PM

People from Aruba definetely are not Latino. Please don't get confused.

Posted by: La Baby Doll at November 17, 2003 3:55 PM

I think that hispanics being called "hispanics" is not bad and it aint good. I also prefer being called a latino but if the us citizens did not call us "hispanics" think of what they can call us if they didnt know the word "hispanic".

Posted by: LaPortuguesa16 at December 12, 2003 3:18 AM

I was wondering, okay here is the problema...I am half Portuguese and half Maltese. but it's really confusing b/c I know I'm not hispanic, and I dont consider my self white but I do consider myself Latina. Is that wrong?

Posted by: Zenrin at March 17, 2004 9:29 PM

The term "Hispanic" was not some government term that Nixon coined as an insult, it is the Latin name for the country of Spain, Hispnicus, and later Hispnia. It has nothing to do with panic. Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. Hispanic, from the Latin word for ôSpain,ö has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that sometimes have little else in common. LatinoŚwhich in Spanish means "Latin" but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericanoŚrefers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can theoretically be called by either word.

Posted by: Marivi at March 17, 2004 9:53 PM

Dear LaPortuguesa16;
The term Hispanic and Latino are very controversial. Besides meaning a person who comes from Latin America and Spain or to identify a person who speaks Spanish it means so much more!!! - I know what you mean, passionate, friendly, warm, charming etc. That is so beautiful! - I think it all comes from our Latin roots or culture and has nothing wrong at all to feel like that.

Good for you!

Posted by: Marivi at April 15, 2004 9:02 PM

Very good definitions of Hispanic vs Latino. For complete article copy and paste this address in your web browser:
https://home.att.net/~Alsosa/page2.htm

Posted by: JBM at August 27, 2004 7:11 PM

It is not uncommon for societies to categorized their citizens in order to preserve the hierarchy of those who rule amongst themselves and to treat others as second class citizens.

In reality all Anglos here in the US are immigrants or of immigrant descent, yet we tend to only discriminate towards the latest wave of immigrants that enter our country or towards those percieved as threats to our way of life.

My view is that if we are to discriminate then let's do it in a proper manner. No one can really be Hispanic, it is not a country. Just because you speak Spanish doesn't mean you should be politically "bundled" into an American created "category".

After all, if you come from Egypt wouldn't that also make you "African American". Get it right folks, Africa is a Continent not a Country.

I am a US. Citizen born in Cuba and speak 3 languages, yet shed the same blood as all others that have died defending the veil of freedom that allows all of us to post freely our thoughts and ideas in this site and accross the country, and I take offense to the 'political" categorization of our citizens.

As Americans we should treat each other as such, and realize that the real threat to our way of life is not being Black or White or Asian or Hispanic or anything but the envy that many radical yet rich and powerfull countries foster against the virtues that make our country so great.

The virtues of being forgiving and tolerant of all the people that come here regardless of their race and the opportunity to make their dreams come true in a free society.

Posted by: JBM at August 27, 2004 7:21 PM

It is not uncommon for societies to categorize their citizens in order to preserve the hierarchy of those who rule amongst themselves and to treat others as second-class citizens.

In reality all Anglos here in the US are immigrants or of immigrant descent, yet we tend to only discriminate towards the latest wave of immigrants that enter our country or towards those perceived as threats to our way of life.

My view is that if we are to discriminate then let's do it in a proper manner. No one can really be Hispanic, it is not a country. Just because you speak Spanish doesn't mean you should be politically "bundled" into an American created "category".

After all, if you come from Egypt wouldn't that also make you "African American". Get it right folks; Africa is a Continent not a Country.

I am a US. Citizen born in Cuba and speak 3 languages, yet shed the same blood as all others that have died defending the veil of freedom that allows all of us to post freely our thoughts and ideas in this site and across the country, and I take offense to the 'political" categorization of our citizens.

As Americans we should treat each other as such, and realize that the real threat to our way of life is not being Black or White or Asian or Hispanic or anything else, but the envy that many radical yet rich and powerful countries foster against the virtues that make our country so great.

The virtues of being forgiving and tolerant of all the people that come here regardless of their race and color, and the opportunity to make their dreams come true in a free society.

God Bless America and All of its Citizens specially all the Hispanics and Latinos that are overseas defending our liberties and freedoms.

Posted by: AA at October 9, 2004 2:24 PM

hi, this in comment to zenrin. i agree that latino is currently being used as a shortening of latinoamericano, and so when using it in that conext Spain would not be considered latino; only hispanic. However the actual term Latino refers to all the cultures that use romances languages, encompassing south and central america (and any carribean nations to which it applies) as well as Spain, Italy, France, Portugal; to name a few. if anyone has any thoughts on this please comment.

Posted by: AA at October 9, 2004 2:27 PM

P.S. so when using the term Latino in this second context, it is actually it rather than Hispanic that has the broader reference.

Posted by: Waldemar Freyre at June 25, 2009 12:41 AM

I remember my mother using the term Hispano ( Hispanic) way back in the 50s. It was later adopted by the US government when it discovered that the term SSA ( Spanish surnamed Americans ) which they wanted to use, did not cover Spanish speaking people who had other than Spanish last names. The term Latin also describes Italians, and those countries who speak a Latin derived language.

Posted by: Anonymous at August 21, 2009 1:39 PM

para empezar yo no escribo bien ingles,pero lo entiendo.Estamos en el pais de los esteriotipos,en esto momentos hay cantidades de inmigrantes rusos,chinos,etc,no hablan una pizca de ingles y pasan desapercibidos como tales,por todos,policias,oficinas,usted y yo.Por cuando vemos en los medios de comunicacion,que latino es verse como Jenifer Lopez,Thalia,pones un canal de television "Latino"y el 100% de los que trabajan tienen ciertos rasgos,compras una revista,entras en la compu y continua la misma confusion.No van a creen pero aqui mismo en este pais hay gente que cree creyo que en latinoamerica no hay negros

Posted by: Luigi Pereira at December 15, 2009 9:28 AM

The Us government in the 70s coined this word Hispanic. This word has no meaning outside the US. Brazilians (like americans) are of any race imaginable! No country in L.A. calls their citizens Hispanics. Furhermore the term Anglo must not include all caucasians/ White Americans. Anglos are native or descendents of people from England. The vast majority of Americans share German, Dutch, Italian, Irish, Greek, Russian, Jewish, Spanish heritage. How can you call a second generation Italian Born in Boston ANGLO? The vast majority of them are white however it does not make them ANGLOS.

Posted by: Robert at January 12, 2011 1:46 PM

Plain and simple! No es tan deficil! Its not that Hard! If you don't want to offend anyone just say Latin!

Im Latin and I prefere to be called Latin or Latino! Hispanic offends most latinos/latins because we dont like the fact the government decided to make a new name to try and better catagorize us. Im pretty sure decendents of europe or anglo ppl or Caucasian ppl dont like to be called White.

So F.Y.I. Hispanic is not the same as Latin/Latino

 
Post a comment



(optional)
Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

 

HTML hints:
<strong>something</strong> to make something bold
<em>something</em> to make something italic
<blockquote>something</blockqoute> to quote something

 

Comment Notice:
R.BIRD & Company, Inc. reserves the right to monitor content posted on the Service, and to modify or remove any messages or postings that it deems, in its sole discretion, to be abusive, defamatory, in violation of the copyright, trademark right, or other intellectual property right of any third party, or otherwise inappropriate for the Service. Notwithstanding the foregoing, R.BIRD is not obligated to take any such actions, and will not be responsible or liable for content posted by any subscriber in any forum, message board, or other area within the Service.

Patterns: The iBook

 

Topics by Category

FAQ's

Links of interest

Keep in touch