Latino vs Hispanic: What are the Similarities and Differences?

Latino and Hispanic are frequently used interchangeably, yet they actually mean different things. Latino reference people that descend from people or are from Latin America. While Hispanic references people that speak Spanish or/and descend from Spanish-speaking populations.

In the United States today, the terms are frequently assumed as a racial category and often used for describing a race, in the same way that many people use to describe Asian, Black, or White.

However, populations that these terms describe are composed of different racial groups. So to use them as a racial category is inaccurate. Latino and Hispanic are actually descriptions of ethnicity, yet this is also a stretch since these terms represent extremely diverse people.

Hispanic or Latino: The Origin

The term Hispanic derived from a Latin word for “Spain”, while Latino is a Spanish derived word for Latin. But as an English word, it is probably the shortening for the Spanish word “Latinoamericano”, which when translated into English means “Latin American”.

Here are a few facts you should know about the term Hispanic:

– Hispanic is a term that is used for denoting the people and culture of countries that the Spanish Empire once ruled.

– Known collectively as Hispanic America, this is a definition that includes Mexico, most of the South and Central American countries, and close to all of the Greater Antilles.

– Hispanic is more frequently and broadly used in the state of Texas and Florida.

– It was adopted by the US government during the administration of Nixon.

Here are a few facts you should know about the term Latino:

– Latino specifically references people that live in the U.S, that is of Latin American nationality. This term also references their descendants born in the U.S. Latin America refers to the countries in North America and South America, including Central America and the Islands of the Caribbean, where the inhabitants mainly speak Romance languages.

– Latino is a term that is restricted to “immigrants” and their descendants from Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, or Romanian speaking countries in South, Central, and North America. It also includes French-speaking areas of French Guiana, Haiti, French West Indies, and French-speaking Canada.

– Latino is a term used more frequently on the West Coast, more specifically in California.

Since ethnicities can’t be identified correctly by the Latino/Hispanic labels mainly due to such a wide range of different cultural groups in South, Central, North America, and the Caribbean (which includes customs, music styles, traditions, and foods) some have indicated that the labels are regarded as “racial” since there are only single labels that represent their nationality and ethnicity accurately. These single labels immediately identify their foods, cultural traditions, customs, and more, for example, Guatemalan, Peruvian, Colombian, etc. Some of these examples include “Hispanic Food”, which often means Mexican food within the U.S., failing to provide a more accurate description of the different food types available in the Caribbean and the Americas.

What Does Hispanic Means And Where Did It Come From?

In the literal sense, Hispanics are a reference used for people who descend from a Spanish speaking lineage and/or speak Spanish.

The English word has evolved from “Hispanicus”, a Latin word reported as a reference that was used for people who lived in Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, today’s Spain), during the era of the Roman Empire.

Since “Hispanic” references what language a person speaks or a language that their descendants spoke, it references an “element of culture”. This also means that it is closer to defining ethnicity when used as one of the identity categories, that groups different people according to their “shared” common culture.

However, people from various ethnicities identify as Hispanic, which makes it broader than just race. For example, people from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico all come from varied cultural backgrounds, which often differ dramatically, except for their language and religion. Due to this, people that are considered Hispanic, either equate ethnicity to the country that they originate from or their descendants or with ethnic groups within a specific country.

What Does Latino Mean And Where Did It Come From

Unlike Hispanic that refers to a language, the term Latino references geography. It is commonly used to indicate that people are from Latin America or they are descended from Latin America. Latino is shortened from the Spanish phrase “Latinoamericano” to Latin American in English.

Similar to Hispanic, Latino doesn’t technically refer to a race. Any person from the Caribbean, South America, North America, or Central America are often described as Latino. Within this group, similar to Hispanics, there are many different races. Latinos are indigenous American, Black, White, mixed, Mestizo, and some are even of Asian descent.

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