HomeQ&AIs the term "Latin" offensive?

Is the term "Latin" offensive?

11
votes

I have recently been scolded on this site for using the word "Latin."

I study Latin, and that is actually why I wanted to learn Spanish, a language that formed from Latin and is spoken in much of Latin America.

This word is offensive?

On my last post, I was bleeped for using the word "desmadre"

I was told that also was offensive.

It is getting to the point were I cannot ask or answer any questions on this site because somebody is always telling me I am using dirty words (such as "latin" and "desmadre.")

Is there a list of words I cannot use? I have really liked this site... but I am tired of asking genuine questions, using normal words people say every day, only to get bleeped, deleted, and scolded.

7853 views
updated ABR 11, 2010
posted by Neago

13 Answers

7
votes

Latin to me is a perfectly acceptable and genuine word. I don't see what the problem might be with that. Perhaps someone may object to being called "Latin", but even then I wouldn't call it really offensive. I guess it would depend on intention and the situation - but other than that, it's just a word.

As for "desmadre" it is a slang word that means chaos. Perhaps it's not pretty, but it's not a foul word, either.

So, I'm not really sure what to tell you. If a senior member or an administrator gives you a warning, I'm sure they probably have good reason to do so. If you get told off by a junior member, and you don't think it's justified, you can try asking him/her what the problem is, or reporting your grievance directly to one of the administrators.

updated ABR 11, 2010
posted by Gekkosan
3
votes

I certainly don't think "Latin" is offensive at all.

Maybe some people would prefer to be called something different...Spanish, Hispanic, etc. maybe? Or maybe something more specific than the general "Latin," such as Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc?

updated ABR 12, 2010
posted by --Mariana--
Just Hispanic, because Spanish refers to Spain, not Portugal - Fidalgo, ABR 9, 2010
I was thinking maybe she called someone from Spain "Latin" and that person wanted to be called "Spanish" instead. (?) - --Mariana--, ABR 9, 2010
Latin includes Italian and others as well. - ocbizlaw, ABR 9, 2010
3
votes

Welcome to the world of "political correctness". There are words that are inherently insulting e.g. "stupid", "jerk", "ugly", "repulsive", "slob", since the basic meaning of the word is negative/disapproving. However, in recent years, huge numbers of words have become offensive, where they were not not so considered before, because some people, somewhere, have taken offense at them.

Most of the words that were used for decades/centuries to describe any kind of physical disability (e.g. blind, deaf, crippled, lame, retarded, etc.) are now viewed by (at least) some as, not merely descriptive but, rather, as disapproving.

Asian-Americans (or Amerasians [who used to be called, more simply, Eurasians]) now take offense at the term "oriental" (they prefer "Asian"). For years many major universities offered courses in "Oriental Studies" and one could reasonably say "I'm interested in "Oriental antiquities/languages/etc.".

In fact, many prejudices /discriminatory practices are, indeed, based on such things as language, country/place of origin/religious persuasion/etc. Should this mean, however, that any/all phrases that make such distinctions are derogatory? At various times and in various places in America's (the U.S.A., actually) history, there has been widespread discrimination against the English, the Irish, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Italians, Catholics, Indians (Amerindians), blacks (Negroes/Bloods/African-Americans/"people of color" [depending on the fashion of the moment], Mexicans {for most English speakers this can mean anyone who speaks Spanish]).

We've basically arrived at the point where people (at least in the U.S.A.) can say "I don't care what the word means, I don't like it (find it offensive)." A reasonable response would be "Don't be silly (oops, that's derogatory)!" You should take the time to learn what the word really means. It is unfortunate that you abuse/misuse your own language, but that's your problem not ours!

updated ABR 12, 2010
posted by samdie
3
votes

Ah... I see what the problem is!

This all comes from a thread where someone objected to a definition that Neago posted, that said (I'm reconstructing from the posts, since the original was erased): "Latin slang for short."

Eddy intervened in that disagreement as administrator, and declared that "Latin" is not an offensive term. I agree (and I should know - I am a Latino, and have had to deal with prejudice a few times in my life. i know when someone says something that is racially offensive, thank you).

However, the word Latin in this definition, as quoted here, is inappropriate simply because the term that was defined (Chaparrita) is not Latin. It's Spanish slang. And it means "shorty", because a Chaparro is a small tree, that's all.

So, badly used, in this context - yes. Offensive, no.

Now, how about we give this a rest and carry on to something more interesting, huh?

updated ABR 11, 2010
posted by Gekkosan
3
votes

I can't believe someone scolded you for just using the word latin. There must be more to the story, such as the context of how you used the word?

updated ABR 11, 2010
posted by cheeseisyummy
3
votes

I don't think either Latin or desmadre are offensive.

updated ABR 10, 2010
posted by ocbizlaw
1
vote

Por sí mismo el término latino no tiene nada de ofensivo, mas puede ser usado por ciertas personas para denotar desdén para los habitantes de Latinoamérica.

updated ABR 12, 2010
posted by AntMexico
1
vote

Reminds me of the same over here, sam.

Una persona ya no es negra, ciega o sorda, sino

de color (that is really stupid!!), invidente y disminuído auditivo y así muchos más...para qué hablarrolleyes

updated ABR 11, 2010
posted by 00494d19
What a pain in the @$$ political correctness is. - Yeser007, ABR 9, 2010
1
vote

Well, I'm sorry to have missed the discussion, and I hope the community will forgive me for dragging up an old(ish) post, but because I was the one who made the comment about "Latin," I do need to clarify some inaccuracies here.

I never stated that the term “Latin” is inherently offensive, nor did I intend to "scold" anyone. Of course the word in itself is not offensive. I didn't go on an angry rant, I didn't demand retractions and apologies, I didn't claim to be personally offended – I just offered up a piece of information. Had I thought that Neago's statement was offensive, I would have flagged it as such. I don't think Neago was trying to be offensive or ignorant, far from it. I never implied that either. I was more troubled by the fact that it was apparently copied from a source that is known for its inaccuracy and lack of cultural maturity.

My intent was simply to encourage giving thought to how we refer to each other and to ourselves. I think this is appropriate, particularly given this space: multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and interested in all things linguistic. Words don't grow on trees – they are creations of people. I don't pretend to tell anyone how think or what to say, but I do think it's good to at least consider the contexts, origins and histories of the terminology that we sometimes take for granted.

I don't want to go into painful detail on a topic that's, for the most part, finished, but I do want to say that the term "Latin," (apart from using the borrowed "Latino") when used to describe residents of the Americas, is considered old-fashioned and very inappropriate in many communities. Much of this has to do with the history of the term "Latin America" - for those interested in more detail on the topic, I highly recommend a book called The Idea of Latin America by Walter Mignolo. While it is dense reading, it's very valuable and highly regarded. It's a fantastic treatment of not only the term itself, but the evolution of the idea and geopolitical treatment of that region.

Anyway, does this mean the term “Latin” is inherently offensive, never to be uttered by a soul? Of course not. Indeed, many people who would fall under the definition of “Latin” have no problem with it. This is, again, why I never directly objected to Neago's statement. I was only providing additional information. If that's unwelcome here, then that's rather unfortunate.

updated ABR 11, 2010
posted by nuxita
Also: I need to make very clear that I did not edit anyone's answer in the original post. Neago did that. I have no editing powers. - nuxita, ABR 11, 2010
0
votes

Hi Neago

Please look at my post to the thread below concerning the use of Latin.

Latin

updated ABR 9, 2010
posted by Eddy
0
votes

Well, when it comes to ian-hill's post - I really can't see why is that. The word "Latino" shouldn't carry any negative connotations, unlike the word "Paki", for example, which is pretty offensive.

updated ABR 9, 2010
posted by bomberapolaca
0
votes

Was the word "latino" ?

I have noticed a sensitivity to this and noticed it is used as a negative adjective by some people.

updated ABR 9, 2010
posted by ian-hill
0
votes

Another case in point.

updated ABR 9, 2010
posted by sunshinzmommie
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