I interrupt your enjoyment of the Carnival of Feminists to gripe about one of my biggest pet peeves.

I hate when people want to say "Latino" and instead say "Latin." I appreciate that you're trying to avoid using "Spanish" (see below). But Latin is a language, not a people.* So, please stop using it that way!

You can have a conversation in English and say Latino even though it's got a Spanish pronunciation. I promise, nobody will yell at you if you pronounce it kinda funny; we understand that Spanish isn't your first language. What they might yell at you about is calling them Latin.

Again, Latin is a language, not a people. It's a dead language at that.

I might as well mention that some people don't like the word "Hispanic." The whole "I'm nobody's panic" thing springs to mind. I don't really care about that (a lot of people don't). I realize it's derived from Hispania (meaning Spain) -- sound familiar? Hispaniola, anyone? -- so I don't care enough to gripe about that. It's up to you if you want to use it, just warning you that some might take offense.

But, either way, one more time, Latin is a language, not a people.

While I'm at it, I will say that Spanish is also a language and not technically a people. There are some lazy folks who decided to call people from Spain, Spanish. But technically they're Spaniards. Spanish is an adjective for things from Spain, as in Spanish people (people from Spain), Spanish food (food from Spain), etc. So you don't say to somebody from Spain that they are Spanish, but they are a Spanish person. It's tricky, I know, but I figure if I'm breaking this down for you, I might as well let you know the whole deal.

Raise your hand if you have a question, comment or concern and I'll be happy to answer.

*Now, I'm not ignorant. Technically, Latin is also a word that describes countries that speak languages that come from Latin (i.e. the romance languages or Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian & Romanian). But nobody uses it that way. And even if they did use it that way, I'd be saying Latin is a language and a descriptor for these countries... See, still not a people!


At Fri Oct 24, 09:53:00 AM Danny said...

Time for me to get some learning.

I've always understood Latino to mean specifically "male of Latin decent" with empahsis on the male while I understood Latina to mean specifically "female of Latin decent" with emphasis on the female. That's why I've always said Latin people instead of Latino.

Feels weird when I'm talking about a mixed groups to use Latino because it feels like I'm only addressing the men in said mixed group.

But if the proper way to refer to a mixed group is Latino then so be it.

At Sat Oct 25, 11:11:00 PM frau sally benz said...

You're right Danny, Latina is feminine and Latino is masculine. If you're talking about a group of people that's mixed, then Latinos (w/plural) is the standard way. It is sexist in that way (as are many languages -- think "hey guys" in English), but I think I've found more people who get annoyed by Latin rather than annoyed by Latino vs. Latina.

At Mon Oct 27, 08:13:00 PM Habladora said...

This post made me smile, btw. It has always surprised me how much people in the States seem to want to conflate language, ethnicity, and race into one big ball when it comes to Latin America - to invent one unified Latino identity and then name it after a country in Europe.

At Fri Oct 31, 02:18:00 PM Caitiecat said...

Speaking as someone from outside the US, I've always been a bit perplexed by the whole idea that people of Spanish background are in some way "not-white", until a friend of mine pointed out that the base of the objection seems to be against people with First Nations backgrounds from South and Central America - that he, and other friends from Spain, didn't seem to count as "Latino" or "Hispanic" - which seemed rather nonsensical to me, given the etymology! :)

The distinction doesn't seem to be one which is made here in Canada, at least not in an everyday way. It's just odd.

It's especially weird in an age where we can see, scientifically, that the most radically-differently-pigmented two people on the planet still share 99.something% of their DNA.

But, with you totally on the Latino/Latin thing. That's just dim.

(I'm Caitiecat from Shakesville, btw)

At Fri Oct 31, 06:16:00 PM frau sally benz said...

Hey CatieCat, thanks for stopping by!

I think the reason for what you're talking about (people from Spain not being referred to as Latino or Hispanic) might be a rejection of Spain as part of the "Latino world." Spain is in Europe, so it does have a different history than the countries in Latin America. They conquered Latin America, has been much wealthier on many levels, etc.

I don't really care and have no problem referring to them as Hispanic or Latino, if they so choose. The two people I've ever met from Spain did NOT want to be referred to that way. So there went that one.


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