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Home > People > Culture > Countries > North America > US > People > Latino and Chicano Compared

Difference Between Latino and Chicano

Latino vs Chicano

The words Latino and Chicano are commonly used in US to refer to ethnic groups to reveal their ancestry or origins. Chicano is the word that is used by native people (read authorities) to distinguish ethnic origins of a person or a group from native people. Latino is a generic term that refers to people of Latin American descent or people who speak Spanish language or it’s variant. There are some similarities in the two terms as Chicano is used to talk about people of Mexican origin mostly while Latino is a term that is equally applied for Mexicans. There are many differences though between these two terms as will be clear after reading this article.

Both Chicano and Latino, when they were used initially, faced opposition from ethnic groups residing in US and having Latin American origins because they considered these terms as derogatory and a way devised by locals to single out people of various ethnic affiliations. Chicano was a word coined to refer to Americans of Mexican descent and it was deemed objectionable by these people but after a few years, they have accepted the term. Interestingly, and older people might recall that Mexican people, when they migrated to US were referred to as Mexicanos first, which got shortened as Xicanos or simply Chicanos. Though, it is not a derogatory term anymore, it should only be used to refer to people of Mexican origin in US.

To understand the reason behind Latino, one has to first look at the word Hispanic that refers to areas under Spanish influence (Spain conquered a large area at one time). In fact, all such areas were referred to as Hispania that can trace their origins to Spain. Mexico is one such country, but there are many more where Spanish language is still spoken. There are many in Central and South America where Spanish is spoken. Brazil is perhaps an exception to this Spanish domination in South America. This has to do with Portuguese,and not Spanish domination.

Latino is a term that refers to people speaking any of the romance language (French, Spanish, and Portuguese etc) in American territories or to all people who have origins in some Latin American country.

What is the difference between Latino and Chicano?

• All people of Mexican origin are referred to as Chicanos in US, and the word has come to be associated with ethnic pride today, though it was once considered derogatory by the Mexicans themselves

• Latino is a generic term used in US to refer to people speaking one of the romance languages (French, Portuguese, and Spanish etc) or having origins in any of the South American countries called Latin America

• Thus, all Chicanos are technically Latinos, but not all Latinos are Chicanos.


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  1. Difference Between Hispanic and Latino

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