Hispanic, Latino, Latinx…A Correction of Disinformation Perpetrated On Ethics Alarms!

I’m sure it wasn’t intentional,  but on October 25, in a thread in response to this post, the estimable and usually reliable commenter Still Spartan stated as fact, in no uncertain terms,

My point is simply that speech about race has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. When is the last time you’ve heard the word Oriental? Heck, we don’t even say Hispanic anymore. But we did 20 years ago….Most people now use the term Latina or Latino, and even that is being replaced with Latinx. 

Your host responded,

If [ “most people”], do,then they are mistaken. Latino is a subset of Hispanic (meaning those from Spanish-speaking nations or regions) , which is why most political organizations use Hispanic in their title. Actually, the various groups don’t particularly like being lumped together at all. Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans and others resent the generalizations. Just because one’s “crowd” does something doesn’t make it correct or virtuous, but it’s true that a shocking number of people reason that way.

I don’t mean to pick on Still Spartan, but as there is so much angst these days about misinformation being spread on social media and the web, I certainly don’t want Ethics Alarms to be part of the problem. And, I confess that it annoys me when someone curtly declares here something to be true here that I am fairly certain is not.

SS also suggested in the comment above that “Latinx” was replacing :Hispanic.” I was dubious about this too. By happenstance, a recent poll on the topic, the results of which you see in the graphic, was introduced thusly on Medium:

Over the past few months and years, several of our clients have noticed the term “Latinx” trending as a new ethnic label to describe Latinos. It has been used by academics, activists, and major companies, including NBC and Marvel, as well as politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren. We were curious about the appeal of “Latinx” among the country’s 52 million people of Latin American ancestry and decided to test its popularity.

While my colleagues and I are progressive on social issues, as researchers, we have to put aside our personal biases and render advice based on the best available empirical evidence. To examine the acceptance of “Latinx” our firm conducted a nationwide poll of Latinos using a 508-person sample that is demographically representative of Census figures, yielding a ± 5% margin of error with a 95% confidence interval.

We presented our respondents with seven of the most common terms used to describe Latinos and asked them to select the one that best describes them. When it came to “Latinx,” there was near unanimity. Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98% of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2% of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.

As I assumed, since the term is awkward and ugly. Ah, but when your politically correct bullying peers and friends grandstand using such terms to prove their virtue, who can resist?

As for “Hispanic” you will note that it is almost twice as popular as “Latino.”

As I thought.

Please make the appropriate corrections.



16 thoughts on “Hispanic, Latino, Latinx…A Correction of Disinformation Perpetrated On Ethics Alarms!

  1. As I understand it, Hispanic meant something like of Spanish origin. This creates major problems since people from Argentina have little in common from those from Mexico or Spain. It makes as about as much sense as using the term Anglo to describe Americans, British, Scots, and Canadians. I think the term Hispanic must have arose due to the eagerness of academics to put them together in an ethnic box.

  2. Latinx, which sounds like some distant cousin of a ferocious feline predator, is popular and growing on twitter.

    Unfortunately, twitter is good for headlines, links and snarky one liners…it isn’t good for analyzing popular opinion.

    • As with all things Twitter, it’s hard to judge whether anything there is truly “popular” or if it’s just that people “go along to get along”, not wishing to draw the attention of the mob of harpies that are always over there, slavering for a new scalp. “Latinx” and other Newspeak terms are used on Twitter as sort of a talisman to ward off the horde. Why risk using “hispanic” or – the ultimate crime – risk misgendering someone with “latino” or “latina”? Just use the made-up word and keep your head down.

      * If this were Twitter, I would now be suffering the wrath of the Church Of The Perpetually Offended for using the word “slavering”.

  3. I read an opinion piece several days ago that also addresses the issue from the perspective of white people trying to tell Latino people how to refer to themselves.


    My favorite part:

    “Rather than making Latinos feel included, progressives are implying the way our families speak is fundamentally inadequate for the United States and progressive American culture. This is offensive to the 85% of Hispanics who, like my parents, speak Spanish to their children and whose most treasured heirlooms are often family traditions and memories in Spanish. Mine include the mellifluous sound of the baritone voice of my “abuelo,” mom’s favorite boleros and dad’s military stories.

    Has their language joined the ranks of comedian Dave Chapelle, the Betsy Ross flag, and the interminable list of people and things that perturb our politically correct sensibilities?

    Ultimately, what Hispanic Americans who take pride in our heritage see in “Latinx” is progressive preening attempting to solve a nonexistent problem at the expense of a beautiful language that Chicanos and other Latinos endured corporal punishment and bigotry to defend. Liberals should also realize it is impossible to reconcile their professed values — like multiculturalism, education and pronoun autonomy — with the peculiar strain of 2019 progressivism that seeks to radically change our language, disregards linguistic practices, and disavows our right to determine how we are described.”

    • Ultimately, what Hispanic Americans who take pride in our heritage see in “Latinx” is progressive preening attempting to solve a nonexistent problem at the expense of a beautiful language that Chicanos and other Latinos endured corporal punishment and bigotry to defend. Liberals should also realize it is impossible to reconcile their professed values — like multiculturalism, education and pronoun autonomy — with the peculiar strain of 2019 progressivism that seeks to radically change our language, disregards linguistic practices, and disavows our right to determine how we are described.

      Feeling a bit — what is the word? — sarcastic this morning. But I have a definition of Latino I’d like to share: A Latino is one who has to go to 4 different stores to find toilet paper; who struggles to use it properly; and yet who riots when none can be found.

      Oh Dear, Oh Dear, I am getting no better and may be getting worse! My disease is progressive in that sense!

      I am very suspicious of that paragraph. Here is why. Mexican peasants are wonderful people in many ways. But Mexican peasant culture is not really anything to set up as admirable necessarily. But in the 1960s, and under the influence of the Marxian undermining spirit, it was suggested that Mexican peasants are somehow ‘great’, and Chicano ‘culture’ somehow wonderful and to be defended. Viva La Raza! [long live my people] and all that. I would not say that knowledge of one’s social and cultural trajectory is not important, but the way that Latinos and Chicanos armed themselves to go to battle in Sixties conflicts, can be critiqued.

      So the whole Latino and Chicano thing was ;progressive’ and revolutionary even, but now they are complaining about the core impetus of progressivism? Well, examine that for a minute. Progressivism and multi-culturalism is predicated on arrogant declarations about ‘preserving’ and ‘protecting’ a culture or a people, and yet in fact progressivism is a generally destructive movement because it undermines itself! If you want to preserve ‘the beautiful language’ and the wonderful Latino culture: stay in your own region and do that important work there.

      The person who wrote this paragraph is what? A Conservative Latino? A repentant progressive Latino? It is funny to observe people on the revolving wheel of Progressivism who put down their feet at some point saying *Enough!*, I’m tired of spinning! Give me some solidity!

      • Latino or Latinx (which sounds soft core porn to me) seem to be terms defining this disparate group as part of the oppressed class. Btw, growing up in Southern California I seem to remember white kids were more subject to corporal punishment from
        Latinos than the other way around.

  4. His·pan·ic (hĭ-spăn′ĭk)
    1. Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.
    2. Of or relating to a Spanish-speaking people or culture.
    1. A Spanish-speaking person.
    2. A US citizen or resident of Latin-American or Spanish ancestry.
    [Latin Hispānicus, from Hispānia, Spain.]

    Usage Note: Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino have slightly different ranges of meaning. Hispanic, from the Latin word for “Spain,” has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that might sometimes seem to have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means “Latin” but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American Spanish-speaking origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to Spanish-speaking residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can thus theoretically be called by either word. · Since the 1980s Latino has come to be much more prevalent than Hispanic in national media, but actual Americans of Spanish-speaking Latin American heritage are far from unified in their preferences. For some, Latino is a term of ethnic pride, evoking the broad mix of Latin American peoples, while Hispanic, tied etymologically to Spain rather than the Americas, has distasteful associations with conquest and colonization. But in recent polls of Americans of Spanish-speaking Latin American ancestry, Hispanic is still preferred over Latino among those expressing a preference, while those having no preference constitute a majority overall. See Usage Note at Chicano.

    Now, if you are asking for my pronouncement on the topic, given freely and with imperial gestures, the term hispanic is better. Simply because it does pertain to Spain, and Spain is the vehicle through which the New World was created. The word ‘Latino’ (and that strange word ‘Chicano’) have a more political inflection. While ‘Latino’ is really a language definition (Spanish is strongly derivative from Latin):

    With origins in the fall of the Rome, and rapid expansion through the conquest of the Americas, the Spanish language traces its history through the rise and fall of great empires. Spanish, along with others like French, Italian and Portuguese, is one of the Romance languages–a family of modern languages with foundations in Latin. Spanish derives many of its rules of grammar and syntax from Latin, and around 75% of Spanish words have Latin roots. The Spanish language has many other influences as well. Several other languages, including Greek, Arabic, and some of the languages of the native cultures of the Americas have contributed words to Spanish in its modern form.

    Languages in Spanish emerged as distinct dialects following years of invasion and settlement of the Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain and Portugal) throughout the Middle Ages. Parts of Spain were conquered by the Moors from Northern Africa and the Visigoths from Central Europe, and were then gradually reclaimed by Christians who spoke Vulgar Latin. Most scholars agree that modern Spanish was established in a standard written form in the 13th century in the Kingdom of Castile in the Spanish city of Toledo. Today, Castilian Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Spain, with several regional Spanish languages such as Basque and Catalan still spoken in their respective regions.

    The term ‘Latino’ got to be used for political and cultural reasons, I assume in the 60s. I have an interesting anecdote: I have a friend here who is of Chibcha ancestry:

    Chibcha is an extinct language of Colombia, spoken by the Muisca, one of the four advanced indigenous civilizations of the Americas. The Muisca inhabited the central highlands (Altiplano Cundiboyacense) of what today is the country of Colombia.

    She made a reference to El Dia de la Raza “Columbus Day” by saying “It commemorates the era they came and conquered us”. A conversation ensued and I suggested that she had the option: to see herself as either the conquered or as the conquerer (given that she was somatically just as ‘Hispanic’ as she was Indigenous).

    There is a great deal more to be gained by identification with the conquerer than with the conquered. That is, by identification with the conquered one identifies with culture that goes nowhere. You can try to find valuable content in Incan culture or Aztec culture but these were really advanced barbarisms (with very interesting aspects, I admit). OTOH, identification with Spanish culture and Hispania, one would have access to everything European, not only the pagan understructure of Europe, but the Greek and Judaic world as well as everything prior to that: Egypt and Sumaria.

    With one you go forward; with the other you go nowhere.

    Bonus comment: Why cannot Spartan be renamed Spartanx? 🙂 I’d like to see her in her regional and traditional costume too!

  5. The first time I saw “Latinx” it was maybe two years ago in an alumni publication from my law school (where else?). I remember being surprised that the publication would have such an obvious typo. Joke was on me…

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