Although there have been confusions regarding this issue even among Spanish speakers this is a matter that is not complicated at all. In order to clearly understand the two concepts it is convenient to really know what each one means so that we can compare and contrast them.
Even though Hispanics are all those Spanish speakers in the world, the term has been used mostly for those living in in the American continent. For instance, a hispanic can be a person that was born in the United States but does speak Spanish as his first language. Being this said, all Mexicans, Argentinians, Colombians, Salvadorians and people from all the Spanish speaking countries in Latin America are Hispanics too. Spaniards do not like to be called Hispanics and they rather go with the term “españoles” that would literally mean “Spanish”.
Besides being Hispanics all Spanish speakers in the American continent from Mexico as the north boundary to the south are also placed under the “Latinos” category which is a term not exclusively for Spanish speakers but for all those speakers of a Latin Language such as: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian but only in the American continent. However, the term “latino” is not merely taken from the Latin language but also from the “Latin American” phrase.
Since the United States has given the right to call itself “America” the Rest of the continent has become Latin American, and Canada. Nonetheless, it is just one continent and is the American continent from Canada to Argentina. But, this is the reason why, the word ‘Latino’ is exclusive for speakers of the languages above BUT, only if they were born anywhere in the #Latin American- region. That is to say, people from Brazil, and the French Guiana are Latinos as well. It is worth mentioning that even though some countries are included in the Latin American continent” they are not considered Latinos such as those people from Belize, and The Dutch & British Guianas as they do live in the Latin American territory but do not have an official language which roots come from Latin.
On the other hand, people from Portugal, Italy, France, Spain and Romania are not considered Latinos as they do not live in the Latin America territory. Again, the term Latino is mainly used because of the land but it is also related to the language which root should be attached to Latin; the mother of all Romance Languages. Therefore, Italians, Portuguese, French, Spaniards, and Romanians are not “Latinos”, some Romance Language speakers from Europe might used the word “Latin” (as it is in English) to refer to themselves or to point out the root of language, ancestry or identity where they come from, but not common at all to label them as Latinos.
As stated before, these are nothing but labels that our “society” has added to different communities based on race, nationalities, and languages in order to discriminate. So if for some the word “Latino” or “Hispano” sounds pejorative is not what it is. It could be actually seen as a sign of identity that defines a gathering of cultures that because of our same language we share many traditions and customs.
In sum, whether you are a Latino, Hispanic or not, we should not take bad the usage of these words that are but terms that represent full interesting concepts that go beyond and take in much more that many ignore. This is how I see it; what should matters is the diversity in cultures, languages and ethnicities that we have, how bored everything would be if we all look alike with the same language and same culture. Thus, remember that we do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.
Let’s embrace cultural diversity by learning languages throughout their cultures.
by JESUS CRUZ-BAUTISTA (2017) ©
████_Yo amo el español