What Does Hispanic Mean to You?

what-does-hispanic-meanAll of us referred to as “españoles, latinos, hispanos, centroamericanos or sudamericanos” are united by a common language: Spanish. But, as well as the other names, what does Hispanic mean, en reality? Firstly, let’s look at the diversity of the Spanish language.

The Spanish language is the second most spoken language in the world (even more than English), right after Mandarin Chinese. It is spoken in Spain, Spanish America, some parts of USA, in the occidental part of the Sahara, Equatorial Guinea and some parts of the Philippines. Spanish is also one of the most phonetic languages in the world!

As one can imagine, with such a vast expansion, the Spanish language enjoys many different accents along with varied vocabulary and expressions. But which one should you use?

The answer to that question is found in the answers to the following questions:

Where do you spend your holidays?

Which Spanish-speaking country do you enjoy the most?

Where do you own your holiday home?

Where are your Spanish-speaking friends from?

Or, simply, which one is nicer to your ears?

That’s the vocabulary, expressions and accent you need!


So what about the differences between these Spanish-Speaking people:

We have all heard the terms “español latino, hispanos and sudamericanos” but do we know what they refer to?


Latino:  refers to those people from Europe or America whose mother tongue comes from the Latin language. Is it hardly ever used for the French, Portuguese, Italians, Rumanians, Belgians or Swiss, although their language is also derived from Latin.

Hispano/Hispanic: refers to those people born in Hispania (Spain), in Spanish America, or in Spanish America living in the USA. Strictly speaking we could add also Portuguese people, since they were born in “Hispania” although, typically, it is used to refer to people from Spain and Spanish America.

Sudamericano: refers to those people only from South America. Brazilians may or may not want to include themselves in this group. (Another group would be Centroamericanos, which includes Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belice, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador).

You may hear some people claiming they are not Latinos, but rather Sudamericanos, or that they are not Hispanos, but rather Iberoamericanos. The connotations and ties that some of these terms bring with them could make them appealing or not for different individuals to use.

My advice? It’s probably best to refer to them as Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc.

… Cynthia Durán.