What does ‘Latino’ term mean?

What does ‘Latino’ term mean?

Certainly it is sad and shameful to hear or read that people who should know better – especially in the media – still insist on using the term “Latino” when referring to “Latin Americans”. This term is not merely culturally inappropriate, but it also has the unpleasant connotations.

The term “Latino” does not mean anything. But I think is important explaining why people, in particular journalists and broadcasters should stop using this term in a wrong context. Whether we like or not the real name for the people from any country of Latin America is simply: LATIN AMERICANS.

I have heard people from Latin America and from other parts of the world using the term “Latino” to describe events or just to explain things. These people did not think what does “LATINO term mean? Maybe it will sound rude but indeed is like calling all English-speaking “Anglo”, which is wrong isn’t it?

Personally, I have no problem with people calling me South American, Latin American, Hispanic or Latino. I am fully aware of these terms were created especially for those living in the U.S.A. But thinking carefully, if we should not call people Latino, so we should call them: Mexicans, Guatemalans, Costa Ricans, Peruvians, Argentineans, Ecuadorians…and so on…Or even a bit more formal: Mexican-Americans, Guatemalans-Americans, Costa Ricans-Americans, Peruvians-Americans, etc…

Then you will run into another “debate”, that you encounter both North and South of the border: We are ALL Americans; it is the name of the entire Continent (yes, there is North, South, and Central, though the latter is not fully recognized by some), so what give the citizens of the United States the right to be the only ones called “Americans”? Shouldn’t we call them instead American-Americans?

It is easy to talk and talk and never land on something concrete there are very logical and objective arguments that fully justify each way to name Hispanics/Latinos.

One of my strongest beliefs and pet peeves is that “whites” (or should I say Non-Hipanic/Latinos…) think of Hispanics/Latinos/etc, as an all-encompassing group, while there is SO much diversity among them, not only from country to country, but between the different regions in each country… Then after they have moved abroad or to the region in which they settle as well as their level of acculturation, bring out a whole new-fangled set of variables to consider.

For practical reasons I am comfortable going with the Hispanic/Latino name. Some must feel strongly against my choice and I fully respect that, but it would be otherwise too complicated to refer to these individuals by each of their own countries of origin… Then the name of this blog/weblog/website (I am guessing am also stepping into dangerous ground here) would be Learn Latin-Spanish…/ Learn Castilian/ Learn Spanish…., etc.

This is a Catch 22 situation: Such a diverse group of people, all gathered under one word, for whatever reason it may be (practicality in my case), and still we insist on  why “Anglos” don’t  recognize the diversity among us or even between them i.e.: Anglo-Canadians, Anglo-British, Anglo-Scottish, Anglo-Australians, Anglo-New Zealanders, etc.

Additionally, we can’t forget the “Spaniards” living in “Anglo-countries”. Are they Hispanic, Latin, Latino, European, Ibero-Europeans?

The name “Hispanic” could be traced to “descendants” of the Iberian or Hispanic Peninsula (comprised by Spain and Portugal) or to the use of the most common language (Spanish) spoken in this Peninsula (let’s not go there right now). Then the word “Latino” is a variation of “Latin” which refers to individuals coming from a country where Latin (the language) was once spoken… So the Italians, French, Romanians, Portuguese, and all other people that descent from Latin countries, who do not have Spanish as their primary language, and are living in Anglo-countries, could argue that they should be called “Latinos” or “Latin-Anglos”??… Wait, aren’t Latin Americans the ones that come from Central & South American as well as the Caribbean?

As far as the term “Anglo” is concerned, it is funny but I have noticed that Hispanics/Latinos do not have a problem calling any white “Anglo-Saxon” citizen an “Anglo”. Shouldn’t they call them English-Americans, German-Americans, Danish-Americans, Austrian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Scottish-Americans, Polish-Americans, etc…?

What about African-Americans? We should call them by their country of origin as well: Algerian-Americans, Egyptian-Americans, Tanzanian-Americans… Same situation applies for Asian-Americans, wouldn’t you agree? And how about those originally from the land down under… Australian-Americans, New Zealand-Americans?

I think this is certainly a hot topic right now, but it will eventually get resolved and we’ll have a term to use when referring to Latinos/Hispanics…

I hope you enjoyed these interpretations and analysis. This article was written only to be more aware when we refer about people from different cultures and linguistic groups. In the end, always it will be difference between people about all these terms.


About Oriella Escobar :)

Name: Oriella Escobar R. Country: Australia. Interests: Languages, Education, World's cultures, travelling, recipes, friendship, etc. Profession: Language Teacher (French, Spanish and English) Personal Quote: “What we know is a drop of water, what we ignore is the ocean” (Isaac Newton).
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