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'Latino, Si--Hispanic, No'

November 24, 1985

I applaud Del Olmo's sincere attempt to clarify the reference terms used for people of Latin-American culture or heritage, but his insistence that "Latino" accurately represents all such people is ill-advised. In fact, it only represents about half of them, since the word itself is the masculine form. To represent the other half one would have to add "Latina."

This is not a trifling matter, either, as the use of the masculine to represent all people reflects a bias in favor of the male. We have this in English, too, and those of us who care about language as well as fairness have been trying for years to root out this form of sexism.

As for Spanish-speaking people, I still prefer the term "Hispanic." I use it not to refer to any place of origin (Spain), but to the language (Spanish), which is a common denominator. The fact that it is an English word doesn't bother me, either, as I fully respect the many other similar English words used to describe such groups as Russians, French, Asians, and so forth.

GERALD JONES

Los Angeles

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