General Question

JonnyCeltics's avatar

Which term is more appropriate for business-speak, or, when is it appropriate to use "hispanic" or "latino/a"?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2690 points ) July 15th, 2011

I am putting together some copy for my company, and we are trying to name a certain sector of the business after the latino/hispanic community. I’ve been told that “latino” can often be used derogatorily. Thoughts?

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27 Answers

Blueroses's avatar

In my part of the country, hispanic refers to people of Mexican heritage while latino encompasses any Spanish speaking cultures. It’s more likely here to have hispanic be used in a negative context.

thorninmud's avatar

This is from the webpage of the Hispanic Student Center at Florida State University:

“Those who consider their heritage linked to Spain—- typically Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean people—- tend to feel more comfortable calling themselves Hispanic. It is the preferred term in Florida, where many Hispanics have embraced the word as a way to promote solidarity among various groups and bolster their business opportunities and political clout.
Many who identify themselves as Latino (men) or Latina (women) object to being called or classified Hispanic because they consider themselves native to the hemisphere and want no association with Spanish conquistadors who destroyed pre-Colombian civilizations. It’s considered especially offensive among Californians of Latin descent.
Typically people of Mexican, Central American and South American descent prefer Latino. The term is very popular in California, Illinois, New York and Texas—- states with large Latino populations. Many women in the group prefer the gender-specific term ’‘Latina’’ to the male ’‘Latino.’’ In some political circles, Latina is used to create a sense of unity and sisterhood.
The term is not favored among immigrants or descendants of Spanish-speaking homelands who live in Florida because they feel their ancestry is more closely linked with Spain than with Latin America.”

Porifera's avatar

Either one. IMO neither Hispanic nor Latin has a negative or derogatory connotation. I like Latin American better because it refers to the language we speak as well as the place we come from. I do not like Latino or Latina because in Spanish those words are singular. I remember back in the 70s they used to say Latin instead of Latino/a which made sense to me because it’s an English word, whereas Latino/a is Spanish and why use a Spanish word if you have an English equivalent. Why say Latino Community as opposed to Latin Community.

I am not in the US but my cousins who live in NYC say that they use Hispanic or Latino indistinctively. Here in Latin America we never refer to ourselves as Hispanic we always say we are Latin American. For us Hispanic is directly related to Spaniards and we don’t see ourselves that way.

tinyfaery's avatar

What part of the country are you in? In CA Latino is more appropriate. Only use Latina when referring to females solamentè.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Latino is the word I’d use for business. Hispanic is not a broad-base term.

DominicX's avatar

I was always under the impression that “Hispanic” referred only to Spanish-speaking people of the Americas and “Latino” referred to any Ibero-Romance speaking people of the Americas (including the Brazilians who speak Portuguese). So, in other words, it would be weird to call a Brazilian “Hispanic”. Then again, maybe some people of Latin America don’t want to be associated with Spain and instead prefer “Latino” because it refers to the languages and doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “of Spain” (which is what “Hispanic” literally means).

Either way, I’ve always been confused, but I tend to use “Latino” because that’s what my Latino friends say (here in California) and it seems more inclusive than “Hispanic”.

gailcalled's avatar

Could you use “Spanish-speaking community”? That covers every native Spanish speaker.

Porifera's avatar

@gailcalled Spanish-speaking community includes Spaniards whereas Latin (o/a ) as it is used in the US, refers to people that come from Latin America. (In Europe the term Latin refers to people from Italy, France, Spain.) I don’t think the OP is thinking about people from Spain too, because if he is, then Latinos is out of the question.

The term the OP should use depends on where he is in the US as some people here have sais in CA one term is favored over the other, same in Chicago, NYC, Florida, etc.

bob_'s avatar

I don’t like Latino for the same reason as @Porifera, it sounds silly to me when used as a plural. Either Hispanic or Latino are acceptable for your purpose, though.

@Porifera “In Europe the term Latin refers to people from Italy, France, Spain.”
And Portugal and maybe Romania :)

Porifera's avatar

@bob_ You’re absolutely right forgot people from Portugal. Also not sure about Romanians ;)) Great minds…

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@tinyfaery we are located in NYC

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
tinyfaery's avatar

@JonnyCeltics Maybe PM Simone de Beauvoir and ask her what is more appropriate.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Hispanic refers to Spanish speaking peoples (except Spain, go figure), usually just those who are indigenous peoples formerly conquered by Spain. It’s not just those from Mexico. Latino, in contrast, refers to people speaking other Latin-based languages, such as Portugese. Again, the usage is usually limited to those countries wherein indigenous populations were conquered by European ones. Therefore, Latino encompasses Hispanics.

bob_'s avatar

@incendiary_dan “except Spain”

That is not correct.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@bob_ Nothing in that link is contrary to what I said. In particular, the sentence “other government agencies adopt definitions that exclude people from Spain, since there is a distinct ethnic difference (indigenous American or European American)” seems to reinforce it. More to the point, I’ve never heard a person from Spain refer to themselves as anything other than “Spanish”.

bob_'s avatar

@incendiary_dan Yes, some, as in, the exception.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget currently defines “Hispanic or Latino” as “a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race”. The U.S. Department of Transportation defines Hispanic to include, “persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or others Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race.” This definition has been adopted by the Small Business Administration as well as many federal, state, and municipal agencies for the purposes of awarding government contracts to minority owned businesses. Still, other government agencies adopt definitions that exclude people from Spain, since there is a distinct ethnic difference (indigenous American or European American). Some others include people from Brazil, but not Spain or Portugal. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission encourages any individual who believes that he or she is Hispanic according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget definition (any Spanish culture or origin) to self-identify as Hispanic. The United States Department of Labor – Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs encourages the same self-identification.

gailcalled's avatar

@bob_ . ^^That certainly clarifies things.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@bob_ Still doesn’t match the reality of how the word is actually used. Whoopty shit, you found vaguely worded validating evidence on a site that anyone and their grandmother can modify. And even that you need to stretch to fit your meaning. I’m impressed. Really.

bob_'s avatar

@incendiary_dan * rolls eyes*

What-fucking-ever. I guess you’re right, since you know everything.

EDIT TO ADD: If the reference is what bothers you, here is the official source.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Or maybe as the descendant of those colonized by the Spanish I happen to have had to deal with this a lot, both in and out of my critical race studies. Just a thought.

bob_'s avatar

Or maybe as a Mexican that I am, I too happen to know a thing or two about it? Would you like to see my passport?

The OP asked what the more appropriate term was. I provided a government source. If you disagree with it, that’s cool.

Pandora's avatar

Hispanic refers to people who are from a country who speak spanish and whose culture is spanish. Latino, comes from the word latin, which would include all the romance speaking nationalities. Which are Italian, French, and even Portuguese.
Latino would be like lumping the scottish and english together. The Scottish speak english but they speak Gaelic as well and their culture is quite different.

Porifera's avatar

@Pandora The discussion here is centered on how Hispanic and Latino are used in the US. The use of those words in Latin America and Europe is somewhat diferent.

I find that once again people here are talking about two different things (the meaning and scope of the words themselves vs the usage of these words in the US), hence all the confusion.

incendiary_dan's avatar

And Scottish and English are both not Latin-based languages. English is Germanic with Latin influences, Scots is in the Celtic language family.

Pandora's avatar

@JonnyCeltics You wrote, I’ve been told that “latino” can often be used derogatorily. Thoughts?
In truth any word can be made to sound insulting if you use it in such away. I have seen articles written about the hispanic or latino community in newspapers and I have not found them offensive.
I did remember reading an article in a newpaper in Florida claiming that hispanics where to blame for the lower scores in the schools in Florida and it then went on to blame a particular group. The whole article was hardly impartial and would list the word hispanic several times when it wasn’t necessary.
I think for some the word hispanic may be considered a little derogatory because its too close to the word spic, which is purposely meant to be offensive. Latino or Latina is probably safer.
But people will make the ultimate decision on whether something is offensive or not based on the full context of the material.

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