Which word means what?And when should each word be used?
It can be confusing, especially for non-Hispanics, but here is a definitive glossary for these terms as they are currently used.
But first, a caveat: In the United States, “identity politics,” the natural outgrowth of the ideas championed by the nineteenth-century philosopher and misanthrope Herbert Spencer, rule the day: if Darwin sought to classify every creature into scientific families of genus and species, Spencer insisted that humans also be classified into groups that defined and constricted through orders and disorders. “Hispanic” is as much a product of Social Darwinism as is “Latino.”
Terms evolve over time, of course, and nomenclature to describe those in the United States who are immigrants from Latin America, of Spanish ancestry or the descendants of these groups is no different. “Spanish Americans,” used widely in the nineteenth century, gave way to “Spanish-speakers” and “Spanish-surnamed” for most of the twentieth century before “Hispanic” was introduced officially in 1970 by the Nixon administration, out of respect for the fact that the Spanish-speaking world, after nine years of deliberations, adopted, in 1935, the word “Hispanidad” as a universal affirmation of identity, which is commemorated on the “Día de la Hispanidad,” an international holiday celebrated each fall.
“Latino,” which, by using the Spanish word for “Latin,” can be viewed as inherently condescending—would we call Americans of Italian ancestry “Italianos” or those of French heritage “Français”? — emerged as a politically correct term in the 1990s. It has, in fact, replaced an array of words used to describe Hispanicsborn in the United States: Chicano and Mexican American, for instance, are now seldom used.
The same is true, of course, of other groups who have seen terms evolve over time: one can empathize with the staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Negro College Fund: who calls people of color “colored people,” and who calls blacks “Negros” this century? Those organizations, unfortunately, are stuck with terms that have fallen into disuse.
A simple way of remembering the difference is this: though every Latino is a Hispanic, not every Hispanic is a Latino. Hispanic is themore inclusive term.
Please note that Brazilians are Latins, not Latinos as "Latinos" is used when speaking English in the U.S. Brazilians are Latins because they speak Portuguese, which is a "Latin" language. There are, in fact, 23 Latin languages spoken in the world today. These are: Aragonese, Aromanian, Astruian-Leonese, Catalan, Corsican, Dalmatian, Daco-Romanian, Franco-Provencal, French, Friulian, Galician, Gallo-Wallon, Gascon, Istro-Romanian, Italian, Ladin, Lombard, Megleno-Romanian, Neapolitan-Sicilian, Portuguese, Romansh, Sardinian, Spanish, and Venetian.
For the purposes of this contemporary usage, these are the definitions used:
Hispanic: a person of Latin American or Iberian ancestry, fluent in Spanish. It is primarily used along the Eastern seaboard, and favored by those of Caribbean and South American ancestry or origin.English or Spanish can be their “native” language.
Latino: a U.S.-born Hispanic who is not fluent in Spanish and is engaged in social empowerment through Identity Politics. “Latino” is principally used west of the Mississippi, where it has displaced “Chicano” and “Mexican American.” English is probably their “native” language. “Empowerment” refers to increasing the political, social, and spiritual strength of an individual or a community, and it is associated with the development of confidence of that individual or community in their own abilities.
Latin: an abbreviation for “Latin American,” or “Latinoamericano” in Spanish (written as one word), a Latin is a person who was born in Latin America and migrated to the United States. Regardless of his or her immigration status, a Latin is a foreign-born worker for whom English is a “foreign” language and who lacks the cultural fluency taken for granted by those born and raised in the United States. Spanish, Portuguese, or an indigenous language is their “native” language.
These words are not interchangeable, notwithstanding what Hispanic and Latino groups might want to mislead themselves into thinking. The following sentence is true: Hispanic culture had a huge impact on Aztec society. The following sentence is false: Latino culture had a huge impact on Aztec society. For marketing and political reasons, however, the terms are often used interchangeably. The “National Association of Hispanic Journalists,” for instance, uses “Increasing the influence of Latinos in U.S. newsrooms” as a slogan.Shouldn’t that be the job of the National Association of Latino Journalists? The otherwise sensible Pew Hispanic Center — a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that provides information and conducts research on issues, perceptions, and trends affecting the Hispanics in the United States—joining the linguistic fray, uses “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably just as one finds the random corporate use of “his” and “her” to create the appearance of gender neutrality.
The PewHispanicCenter is not only intellectually lazy by resorting to such a cop-out, but awkwardness results in almost every report they issue, because words are consistently used incorrectly.There is something to be said for good form, with market-based caveats. If you were to ask me, I’d prefer that you’d say, “You haven’t seen anything yet.” But if you tell me that, for marketing purposes, you settled on the slogan “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” I would understand your reasoning: it may not be grammatically correct, but it ain’t gonna kill me to put up with slang.
It should also be pointed out that there are classist connotations to these terms. In the same way that the phrases “blue collar” and “white collar” telegraph certain generalizations about individuals, so do the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic.” It’s possible to criticize the use of code words to convey certain attributes, but, factually, a blue-collar worker is more likely to bowl and a white-collar employee is more inclined to play golf. Such is the way of the world. In this manner, a “Latino,” for the most part, is likely to be working class, did not graduate from college, a Democrat, would like to be a member of a union, is paid by the hour, and is not fully assimilated into the mainstream of American life. A “Hispanic,” on the other hand, is middle class, a college graduate, inclined to vote Republican, a salaried (professional or management) employee, and more likely than not to be acculturated to American society. Finally, many find the use of “Latino” when speaking in English to be both patronizing and a linguistic abomination, but it’s a crowd-pleaser, particularly among the politically active.
This all said, Hispanics, Latinos, and Latins are distinct individuals, who, at times, loathe one another, and, on occasion, seethe when grouped together. Say “Latino” to the wrong person, and an unintended insult results. Say “Hispanic” to the wrong person, and you will be dismissed as being “prejudiced.” It is important to remember that “Hispanic” and “Latino” can each be considered a pejorative, depending on the listener’s sensibilities. What can be said with certainty is that, intellectually, “Latino,” used when speaking in English, is the name given to the children of the Hispanic diaspora inthe United States. For now, in terms of nomenclature, it remains challenging, and there are no absolute rules; terminology is still evolving as this century unfolds.
Louis E. V. Nevaer
Latinoamérica versus Hispanoamérica
What is the proper way of saying “Latin America” in Spanish?
There are two equally proper ways of translating “Latin America.” One is “América Latina” and the other is “Latinoamérica.” Either term refers to the nations in the Western Hemisphere where a language derived from Latin is spoken. The languages are Spanish, Portuguese and French. (Nations where English and Dutch are spoken are not part of Latin America.)
If you want to refer only to those nations where Spanish is the official language, then the term for that is Hispanoamérica. Why is that you ask? The answer is that hispano simply means that which is related to the Spanish language. Mexico and Argentina are part of Hispanoamérica, but Brazil is not.
Ponder this: If Quebec were to break away from Canada and become an independent nation, it would be part of Latin America! But it wouldn’t be part of Hispanoamérica.
Finally, what if you want to exclude the French-speaking regions of Latin America, and also include Brazil?
There's a word for that: Iberoamérica.
Why is that you ask? Because "Ibero" means "that related to the Iberian peninsula." This includes Portugal. And so, Iberoamérica refers to the Spanish and Portuguese speaking nations of Latin America.
Speak BUSINESS SPANISH like an EXECUTIVE: Avoiding the Common Mistakes that Hold Latinos Back
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Whether you call yourself Hispanic or Latino, if you are living and working in the United States, you need to be fluent in Business Spanish.When you make language mistakes, you’re also making a bad impression. This book will help you —
— Be more competitive. Whether it’s Starbucks or IBM, candidates who are fluent in Spanish have the advantage. “Bilingual” jumps out on a resume, and makes recruiters take notice. CareerBuilders reports that 88% of employers are enthusiastic about multilingual candidates.
— Get Faster Promotions. The higher you go up the corporate ladder, the more managers and executives you find who are multilingual. Korn/Ferry International noted that 31% of executives speak a language other than English, and being fluent in BusinessSpanish is the #1 language of choice.
— Earn more money. Employees who are bilingual make more money. The Census Bureau reports that Americans who are fluent in another language average 4-6% more in earnings depending the industry in which they work. This is true —whether they’re in the medical profession, or work for an airline. In Some industries, such as banking and law, pay a premium paid if you master Business Spanish—and know financial or legal terms.
— Have more career choices. The world may not be your oyster, but Knowing Business Spanish makes you more valuable to employers throughout the United States. It also makes you “international” material— you can advancing more rapidly at companies with connections to Latin America, or have strong business with Latin America.
“It is simply a win-win situation, and this little book, which is written in a very approachable manner, with confidence, clarity and wit, is the first step in becoming fluent in Business Spanish—or in brushing up on your Business Spanish vocabulary.”
-- Rose Guilbault, Vice President, AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah