Difference Between Hispanic and Latino

Hispanic vs Latino

The difference between Hispanic and Latino can be easily understood from the definition of each itself. Hispanic and Latino are frequently used to refer to the roots or cultural origins of a person. Hispanic refers to Spanish origin, though it has come to represent several cultures that were once a part of the Spanish Empire. Latino is another term that is used to refer to a person from any of the Latin American countries. Latina or Latino are somewhat similar and come from Latin American. There is a lot of confusion between Hispanic and Latino in US, because of the commonality in these two terms. Either of the two terms are used invariably to describe a person of Spanish culture whether he or she comes from Cuba, Mexico, South America, or Spain. However, that is not correct as the two words refer to two different aspects. Let us find out in this article, if there are any differences between Hispanic and Latino.

The combined term Hispanic or Latino was coined by the government of US to broaden the definition of a person from just Hispanic in 1997. Hispanic or Latino was introduced in an attempt to cover all ethnic groups living in the US having Spanish ancestry or those who spoke Spanish at home. However, the term did not include Brazilians, and surprisingly includes many races instead of just one. This means we can have blacks of Spanish origin, as well as, whites of Spanish origin in this classification.

Despite Hispanic or Latino having been accepted as a category, there are sociologists and anthropologists who are not sure if these two terms can be used interchangeably. They feel that these are culturally and ethnically, two different groups. We will see why they think so in this article.

Who is a Hispanic?

Hispanic refers to the language aspect. Hispanic is a broad term that contains all Spanish speaking people. Since such people come from both hemispheres and often have nothing else in common apart from Spanish language, it is hard to find any commonality between these communities. You are a Hispanic if your origin comes from a country where they speak Spanish. A large number of people get included in this category. That is why it is called a broader term.

If you are from Spain, then you are Hispanic. This is because, in Spain, they speak Spanish. If you are Mexican too you can be known as a Hispanic as they speak Spanish in Mexico.

Difference Between Hispanic and Latino

Who is a Latino?

Latino, on the other hand, refers to geography. Latino is a word in Spanish language that means Latin, but in the American context and language, it has come to refer to a shortened version of a Spanish word latino americano. This word is used to refer to people or communities of Latin American origin. So, Latino is a way to identify people from the Latin American region. If you are to be called a Latino, your origin should come from a Latin American country.

If you are Brazilian, you are a Latino. That is because Brazil is a Latin American country. If you are a Colombian you can be both a Hispanic and a Latino. You are Hispanic because in Colombia they speak Spanish. You are Latino because Colombia is a Latin American country.

 Hispanic vs Latino

What is the difference between Hispanic and Latino?

• Definition of Hispanic and Latino:

• Hispanic is someone who comes from a country that speaks Spanish.

• Latino is someone who comes from a Latin American country.

• Basis of the identity:

• Hispanics are identified based on their language, which is Spanish.

• Latinos are identified in reference to their geography; that is the location, which is Latin America.

• Examples:

• A person from Spain is Hispanic.

• A person from Brazil is Latino.

• A person from Colombia is both Hispanic and Latino.

Thus, it is clear that Hispanic should be used to refer to a person of Spanish origin living in America. What this implies is that a native of Spain living in US is a Hispanic, but not a Latino. Latino, on the other hand, refers to people of Latin American origin residing in US. So the use of the term Hispanic or Latino in US to broaden the category of people speaking Spanish language is not correct technically. However, it does not make much of a difference to those people who are of Spanish origin, but coming from Latin America as the common denominator among all such diverse groups is Spanish language.

Images Courtesy:

  1. Hispanic via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Latino by epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)