Latin America/Latino = Hispanic? Why?

Why do we call it Latin America, and why do we call someone of Hispanic background, a Latino? How did Latin get associated with people of Spanish decent, as opposed to people of French or Italy? - Jinx

My WAG: Perhaps because the inhabitants of Latin America speak Romance languages, Portugese and Spanish. I guess that would make the U.S. Germanic America, though.

pravnik is on the right track.
IIRC Latin America was a term coined by the French, thereby including French, Portuguese and Spanish speakers (they are all descended from Latin, a.k.a. Romance languages). Hispanic is, from my point of view, an incorrect term, since it refers exclusively to things Spanish (Spain - Hispania in Latin), and therefore incorrect when applied to people of Mexican and other Latin American countries or their descendants.
Note: This view is only prevalent in America and other English speaking countries. In Italy and France, they have no problem, as far as I can tell, about being called Latin countries, although it’s not very common to hear the term so applied.

Latin America- All the countries in the Americas colonized by one of the Latin (from the Romance languages) European countries (French, Italy, Portugal, and Spain).

Latinos- Anyone that speaks one of the different Romance languages.

Hispanic- Applies to people that speak Spanish and come from places colonized by Spain, which would be most of Latin America.

Latinos is more inclusive, Hispanic is more exclusive. Some groups prefer to be called Latinos, some prefer to be called Hispanic, some prefer neither. I do know that at my university, the institute of Latin American Studies incorporates Haiti, Brazil, and the other non-Spanish speaking Latin American countries in their courses.

That seems logical, and yet in practice it doesn’t work that way. I have never heard a descendant of Italian or French immigrants describe him- or herself, or be described, as Latino/a.

There was a case some years back where Congressman Tony Coelho, a descendant of Portuguese immigrants, sought admission to the Congressional Hispanic caucus. This presented two issues:

(1) Was Portugal encompassed by the term Hispanic? Coelho said that it was, because the Roman province of Hispania was Iberia, which includes Portugal.

(2) Was the term “Hispanic” properly applied to a “white” person whose ancestors immigrated directly from Europe, without a stopover in Latin America? In America we tend to base ethnicity on self-identification, so the caucus admitted Coelho on the ground that if he thought he was Hispanic, that was good enough for them.

If the answer to the first premis is yes, which now I realize it surely can be, then yes, he’s a Hispanic. When I said Hispanic applies to people that speak Spanish and come from places colonized by Spain, but I didn’t want it to mean that the person had to satisfy both conditions. If someone from Spain wants to call himself Hispanic when in the US, then they can. Same for the Portuguese, now that I realize they can be added in the Hispanic definition (although it is typically used for Spanish speakers).

This then begs the question is Guyana (ex-British colony) in latin America?

It is in South America, surrounded by Latin American countries…

Similar to Belize, that is in Central America and surrounded by Latin American countries.

French Guyana, I think, can be considered Latin American…

The definitions also depend on what the course is teaching. When I was taking a course of History of Latin American Literature, I had to read some essays by Jamaican authors because the unit at that time was about Caribbean authors, which include Jamaica and Belize.

Well Guyana is culturally in the same bloc as the ex-British/British carribean coutries (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, etc.) infact Guyana is one of the nations that the West Indies international cricket team is drawn from.

Yes, but it is not included as Latin American…although it can be included as Caribbean or South American. :slight_smile:

Originally, “Latin” as an ethnic designation goes back to at least the time of the Crusades. The Franks who invaded the Levant founded the “Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.” At the time, “Latin” referred to their using the Latin rite of the Mass, in contradistinction to the Eastern Orthodox and other Middle Eastern churches. Its narrowing to mean only ‘Hispanic’ is a much more recent development. The Franks were the original “Latins.” Therefore Haiti, Martinique, and French Guyana are just as much “Latin America” as Mexico, even though they are seldom mentioned in that connection. But why not “LE QUÉBEC”? J’oublie!

I know, but why—counter to all logic—is this? I was weirded out by the title of Gabriella Ferrari’s autobiography, Gringa Latina: A Woman of Two Worlds. She was born of Italian parents in Peru. How does being of Italian ancestry make her anything other than just Latina?

For example, Jerry Garcia, whose dad immigrated from Spain to California.

I have been given the impression that in ordinary modern American discourse, Latino and Hispanic are equivalent. However, I’ve heard that the Mexican-Americans in general tend to prefer Latino (and be more on the left), while Cuban-Americans (and Puerto Ricans?) in general tend to prefer Hispanic (and the Cubans in Florida are notoriously right-wing). The political/regional connotations that shade the meaning.

“If Quebec were to separate into a French-speaking country, it would probably not be regarded as a Latin American country for cultural reasons.”

This I do not understand. What cultural reasons? In what way is Québec less “Latin” than Haiti? OK, they have some resident English speakers… but so does Nicaragua.

Where I live, (El Paso TX) is about 80% Mexican American, and “Hispanic” and “Mexican-American” is heard a far more than “Latino”. This area isn’t all that politically conservative, but socially conservative. The same is true of New Mexico, Arizona, and much of Texas. Maybe it is not so much that the local Hispanics are conservative, perhaps the overall mood dictates a more conservative name in these areas. “Chicano” never caught on here like it did in California either in the 1970’s.

In places like northern New Mexico and parts of Texas and Arizona, many people identify very closely with their Spanish roots. For instance my mother’s family traces their ancestry from Spaniards and they claim to have lived in the same place since New Mexico and Texas were territories of Spain. So they like to use “Hispanic”. But a lot of people in larger cities there are more recent immigrants from Latin America and see themselves as “Latinos”, and have no direct connections to Spain. I am not saying all people who call themselves “Hispanics” feel exactly this way, but the Spanish descended people who were in these Hispanic areas first set the tone for those who came later from Mexico or Central America.

In the case of Cubans, don’t most Cuban-Americans trace themselves directly to Spain, and consider themselves to be “white” or at least whiter than mestizo and Afro-Latinos from other countries? I’ve only known a few Cuban-Americans, but they have given me that impression. That may explain it if they prefer “Hispanic” over Latino (which I do not know).

As I understand things, officially a “Hispanic” is someone from a nation with Spanish as its official language, or in the context of the United States - someone who’s family comes from a Spanish speaking background. In essence it is a linguistic category, even if we allow for the fact many people labelled Hispanics are not fluent in Spanish.

“Latino” is more of a geographic label, pertaining to anyone from Latin America. It is short for “Latinoamericano”.

Therefore a Spaniard is a Hispanic, but not a Latino. A Brazilian is a Latino but not a Hispanic. A Portuguese is neither. I am not saying this is correct or the way it always should be used, this is just more or less official usage.

None of these labels has anything to do with “Race”. A blond Argentine of German heritage, a Japanese Peruvian, or a Yoruba Afro-Cuban are just as Hispanic and Latino as Jennifer Lopez or Edward James Olmos.

In Spanish, latino as an abbreviation of latinoamericano looks exactly the same as the original name latino as in the Crusaders’ el reino latino de Jerusalen. So you can understand how they could be confused.

Guyana is an English speaking country (like Belize in Central America) and the primary ethnic groups are “Afroguyanese” and “Indoguyanese” - descendents of African slaves and East Indian indentured servants. There is political and cultural tension between these two main groups, and everybody else - Amerindians, Chinese and a few Caucasians - falls into “Other.” It’s a unique country with a Dutch, French and British history and somewhat more in common with Caribbean countries than other South American countries. I was there last week and was advised to stay in the hotel when not working because of the high rate of violent crimes there (possibly related to drug runners using the country as a transport route). Of course I ignored this advice. Even more dangerous I thought were the drivers, swerving around horse-drawn carts, tractors and pedestrians. Most of the traffic lights in busy intersections were out but according to my taxi driver, it’s not as bad as it was before, when they were showing green both ways. Great.

What was the question again?