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'Latino, Si--Hispanic, No'

November 24, 1985

Unfortunately, the pearls of wisdom in Del Olmo's column are strung along a false and trivial cord, his attack on the good English word Hispanic. He finds it "ugly and imprecise." It may sound ugly to his ear, but it is not so at all in its connotation, and it is more precise than he imagines.

It does not denote, as he says, only "all United States residents of Latin American extraction." It includes also such residents of European Spanish extraction, and the peoples and cultures of Spain and Spanish America everywhere. The word has the blessing not only of the U.S. government, corporate America, and the news media (as Del Olmo admits), and though I admit these sponsors should be sufficient to condemn it, it also has the blessing of the academic world, as evidenced by the Hispanic Institute Library (an affiliate of Columbia University) and the Hispanic Society of America in New York.

It is no Johnny-come-lately among English words, tracing its ancestry back to the ancient world ( Hispania is the Latin for Spain), and a form of its use appears in English literature as early as 1584, according to the New English Dictionary.

Del Olmo's additional objections, that Hispanics do not call themselves Hispanic, and that they are, apart from Hispanic culture, a heterogeneous group, have no force against the English word Hispanic and its meaning.

JOHN H. RANDOLPH

Oxnard

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