Latino or Hispanic

Which is the preferred or PC term?

I live in a Puerto Rican neighborhood (about 80%) and they definitely prefer Latino.

A guy I know lives on the south side and the people are Mexican decent and they like Hispanic.

Is this accurate?

On the West Coast, “Latino” is the preferred term, regardless of country of origin, although most people using this term are Mexican or Central American.

“Hispanic” isn’t used very often in Southern California.

Sets and subsets.

The way I understand it, the term Latino would include people of Spanish descent and people of Portugese descent (Brazilians).

The term Hispanic would not include those who speak Portugese.

So, both Puerto Ricans and Mexicans are both Latinos and Hispanics.

I suppose you could make a case to include Italians in the Latino category, strictly speaking. But we won’t go there right now. :wink:

A Mexican-American professor I had once told me that she hated the term Hispanic, and preferred Latina. Since no one has ever told me that they prefer Hispanic to Latino/a, I use the latter.

I prefer Puerto Rican myself. Hispanic sounds like a name a gringo would make up. Latina is something a spanish person would say.

Too muddled these days. Obviously, latino is the hispanic word, but counterintuitively it might also be less “PC” depending on the context and community you’re speaking with. When I was little, Latino was often used [but not by my family] to refer to persons of mixed Spanish and native American descent, particularly in So. and Central American groups, and Cubans too; as opposed to persons descended from Spanish friars (or who fancied themselves as such), or from African slaves.

So while “latino” in some countries was used to differentiate, today one might either be seen as celebrating the mix of Spanish, Portuguese, African, Aztec, Inca, et al. blood; or as recalling the fact that there are/were severe distinctions drawn along ethnic lines and silly notions of purity, bordering on a caste system. Breaking down such division through language relies quite a bit on the listener’s ability to appreciate the ironic distance involved.

I never minded much one or the other, but I’d grant that Hispanic seems to me a more neutral term, particularly when speaking with persons unfamiliar with the difference between Portenos and Puerto Ricanos, much less the sociopolitical histories thereof.

Nobody has mentioned Xicano. I see that quite a bit here in Colorado specifically for those of Mexican descent. Alternately spelled Chicano was what I most frequently heasrd in Arizona, again for those of Mexican descent.

In Colorado, “beaners” was used disparaging for Mexicans. Also in a song in a Cheech and Chong movie.

I believe Chicano is only used to refer to American-born people of Mexican descent, so you would want to use it to refer to Puerto Ricans as mentioned in the OP.

You meant “you would not want to use it…” right?

The term preferred by Puerto Ricans is ‘Boricua’.

–The term I always heard for mixed Spanish and native American descent was mestizo.

I heard a woman Hispanic Latino must be called a Ladina, not a Latino, but it was on a radio program that may have been about a whole group of women of a certain particular origin that wanted to be called Ladinas.

The word ladino has two definitions:

  1. “[…]It refers to a Spanish dialect with some elements of Hebrew spoken by Sephardic Jews […]” (New World Dictionary - Second College Edition.

  2. It also refers to people of Half-Spanish and Half-Indian heritage or indio that speaks Spanish only. This word, IIRC, is used mostly in Central American by Indios in order to separate those who are full-blooded Indios from the Indios who have become assimilated or are half-half. In Mexico, the word “ladino” is hardly used (maybe in Chiapas or states close to Central America) and preference is “mestizo”.
    Regarding the word “Chicano” or “Xicano” (there is a whole political nationalist reason why “X”, but I don’t have the time right now to explain) it is only used used with Mexican-Americans.

As far as what to use, here are some rules of thumb:

(1) If the gathering is not political and you are not aware of the nationality make up of the crowd, “Hispanic” or “Latino” is fine, though “Hispanic” is more neutral.

(2) If you know the nationality of the group and it is a NOT a nationalist/Lefty group, use the appropiate titles such as Mexican-American, Hispanics, Puerto Rican-Americans, Colombian-Americans, Latinos, etc.

(3) If you know the nationality of the group and IS a very nationalist/Leftist group, use the appropriate “P.C.” titles such as Xicano, Puerto Rican, etc. If you don’t know the nationality of the group and it IS very nationalist/Leftist, use “Latino” & stay way clear of the usage of “Hispanic” since it’s seen as a US government invention to assimilate the individual organizations.
(4) If you know the nationality of the group and is a very conservative crowd, stay clear of ethnic labels or use Hispanic.
As with most labels, it is very fluid and much depends on how the long the person has lived in the US.


D’oh! I don’t know how I managed to flub that one…I even previewed!

In my Sociology class, we had a guest speaker who was from South America. According to him, Hispanic refers to anyone from a Spanish-speaking country; this includes Spain. Latino, on the other hand is a term for anyone from Latin America.

I’ve heard from some that Latino was degrading as is means “little man” or something like that? I don’t know?..

I just re-read my post and noticed that I did not address your question directly. Let me try again:

What is the preference, I think a lot depends on the background of the community and individual you are talking about. From my own experience, knowing Puerto Ricans that are either conservative pro-state hood and nationalist Puerto Ricans, they usually prefer just “Puerto Rican”, “Boricuas”, or if from N.Y. “New Yorican.” Again, some don’t mind being addressed as Latinos or Hispanics. As far as Mexican-Americans, that depends a lot on the number of years in the US, region, political background, etc. Recent immingrant usually prefer Mexican. Second year immigrants, Mexican-American, Chicano, Latino, Hispanic, or Mexican.

Latino does not mean “little man” at least not in formal Spanish. There may be a slang word somewhere in the Latino community or some other region of America (and I mean from Canada to Argentina), but Latino does not mean little mand and have never heard of such. Little man by the way in Spanish is “pequeño hombre” or “hombrecito.”