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‘Latine’: progressives’ new favourite buzzword

Will these 'Latine' voters side with Joe Biden again? Credit: Getty

April 13, 2024 - 5:10pm

“Latine,” a gender-neutral term for individuals of Latin American descent, is gaining popularity in academic, cultural, media circles, and other Left-wing institutions. The word uses the -e suffix to accommodate diverse gender identities, aligning with a broader movement for inclusive language, and is said to be popular among younger demographics.

Spanish has evolved over the centuries, marking its presence for over a thousand years, originating from Latin. Today, it is a global language with about 600 million speakers (including native and speakers as a second language), the world’s fourth-most spoken language overall after English, and the official language of 20 countries. Yet progressives have found the entire language problematic since Spanish words, such as “Latino” or “Latina,” are gendered depending on a person’s sex.

The push for a new gender neutral term comes after pushback of a failed rollout of the term “Latinx”. It emerged among these same progressive circles, with proponents arguing that it offers a more gender-neutral and inclusive alternative for LGBTQ individuals within the Hispanic community. Although Latinx was promoted by US academics as a gender-neutral option for Latinos, it faced criticism for its use of the letter “x,” which is linguistically unnatural in the Spanish language.

The term did not resonate with many Latinos, particularly those in working-class communities, and is seen as artificially imposed rather than organic. Various polls indicate that only a small percentage (2%-3%) of surveyed Latinos actually use the term, with some blaming its adoption by white progressives for alienating Latino voters. Additionally, the term fails to grapple with complaints about the catch-all nature of the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino,” which are criticised for oversimplifying diverse identities.

High-ranking figures have instructed against using “Latinx” in official communications, citing lack of support and disconnect from the broader Latino community. Last month, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ campaign arm, announced that his congressional staff is prohibited from using “Latinx” in official communications. In due course, a similar edict might be issued on use of the term “Latine”.

Recent polls show that Democratic President Joe Biden is losing favourability among the Latino community to his Republican rival, Donald Trump. The margin by which President Biden leads over former President Trump among all Latinos has decreased from 29 points, recorded during Biden’s initial year in office (53-24), to a mere nine points (41-32), a shift attributed to concerns surrounding inflation and crime. This is troubling news for Democrats as the 2024 elections advance.

Perhaps if Democrats want to win back the Latino vote they should drop the push for gender neutrality all together. The Spanish language is traditionally binary, which has upset progressives (even the word “non-binary” in Spanish would be “non-binaria” or “non-binario”, depending on the sex of the person).

Democrats have historically enjoyed a substantial advantage with Latino voters. But many working-class Latinos, particularly in swing states like Arizona and Nevada, are more concerned with economic issues such as inflation and the rising cost of living than with Democrats’ focus on gender and identity politics. The Biden administration’s failure to address these economic concerns could have costly consequences for Democrats in key electoral battlegrounds. Using trendy new terms like “Latine” will only serve to alienate them further.

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Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
1 month ago

And these people talk incessantly about decolonization? Repeating your mistake and expecting a different outcome is a sign of madness. When are these ‘intellectuals going to refurbish French? Or would that be too plebeian?Will ‘ohlala’ still be acceptable, or is that a micro-agression?

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
1 month ago

Latine has a better chance of success than the ridiculous lantinx.

John Wilson
John Wilson
1 month ago

Latine sounds a bit crapper. Latinx a bit paaper

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

Don’t these people ever get bored by their trivial lives? Or perhaps the meaningless hysteria is a sign that they are already in the grip of terminal ennui. I’m beginning to think Mao was onto something when he sent all those Chinese academics to the countryside to dig potatoes.

T Bone
T Bone
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being a public academic so long as the work is providing a tangible benefit to the public in a rational cost/benefit analysis. There’s too many people on the public dime in the West that are creating novel social theories with taxpayer dollars. There’s no reason to continue funding these socio-political departments especially when the social justice ideology is already getting bankrolled by monied interest.

Like every Communist, Mao was just destroying everything else so he could arbitrarily control it. Mao didn’t get much of anything right.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  T Bone

I didn’t really mean it, you know. British irony.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

No, they don’t. Sadly, for some academics this is their life’s work.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

What about the inclusive “Latinos and as”?

David B
David B
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Why not subordinate explicit inclusivity to it’s historically implicit version?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray


or the even more inclusive ’American’?

William Brand
William Brand
1 month ago

Woke is a phenomenon of Elite whites primarily of New England Puritan ancestry. Their attitude toward Latin America is one of contempt and patronage.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
1 month ago

Ya és hora que los malditos zurdistas nos dejen en paz con sus intentos de destruir la lengua española. ¥A la mierda estes gilipollas insuportables!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

P’al carĂĄjo!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

La verdad.

RM Parker
RM Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

De verdad, amigo.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
1 month ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

Las cosas podrian mejorar un poquito. Tuve un pequeno problema al aprender espanol y me di cuenta de que espanol no tiene un equivalente de ingles “parent”, entonces “my fathers” (mis padres) significa “my parents”. Todavia me siento incomodo cada vez que tengo que usar esa expresion.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
1 month ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

Why not leave languages and cultures alone? Everybody understands that ‘mis padres’ must include a mother, just as ‘mankind’ wouldn’t have got off the ground without encompassing both sexes. As in ‘mensch’.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
1 month ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

I love it! Swerve the censorbot with foreign obscenities!

Howard S.
Howard S.
1 month ago

The new word hasn’t apparently made it yet into Windows spell check. I put in the word, “Latine”, and spell check suggest the correct spelling as “latrine”. Maybe spell check is right after all.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard S.

Hahaha!

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard S.

Because Spanish speakers express themselves in a gendered language, it’s likely that they implicitly grasp what English speaking leftists do not: that gender is a grammatical concept, not a descriptor of people. I suggest we continue to ignore leftists who impose this error on the speakers of a language they probably speak poorly if it all. Disregard of “latinx” is already extinguishing the term; the same could be done with “latine.” In the meanwhile, I suggest calculated mispronunciation (if that’s even possible with this concocted word) of the term if you are compelled to speak it in public. Derision will diminish its effect. I suggest these pronunciations: â€œla-tine” (as in the tine of a fork), and “latin-ee” (to emphasize the inauthentic spelling). Or perhaps “lay-tine.” I rather like the last; it’s quite English and suggests the native language of the perpetrators. Other suggestions are welcome.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

Good idea. Scorn, derision and open contempt is exactly the right way to deal with the woke scum.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Remember Saul Alinsky’s Rule 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

Americans never pronounce words properly so they’re probably doing that already and not even noticing.

b blimbax
b blimbax
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard S.

The ‘r’ is silent.

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

I thought it read Latrine for a moment. That is where progressive ideas belong

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

Is the term gaining popularity among people who speak and understand Spanish?

b blimbax
b blimbax
1 month ago

Is there a single person, or some sort of established committee, to whom this “latine” suggestion can be traced? For all we know, it might just have been some idiot academic (please excuse the redundancy) who wrote a paper or a tweet or something.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  b blimbax

You could try L’AcadĂ©mie francaise, who have been struggling with Mme La Ministre vs Mme Le Ministre since 1997, and went all faint when somebody suggested La Ministrice. Maybe they have a US branch?

RM Parker
RM Parker
1 month ago

These people have adopted the advertiser’s trick, of inventing a problem for which – surprise! – they have the solution. Of course, there never was a problem, which is why try have to bully and hustle so hard to try and stimulate demand. Somehow I think this one is going to fail, but it won’t deter them right away.
As an aside, I have long wondered when the tiresome legions were going to come for heavily gendered languages such as Spanish. Now I know. Oh dear.

Point of Information
Point of Information
1 month ago

I have always wondered why anglophones who wish to express the ethnicity of a latin language speaker in (our germanic) neuter gender (the “it” in “he, she and it”) contrive to invent neologisms such as “Lantinx” or “Latine”.

It’s “Latin”.

Latin dance. Latin cuisine. A Latin congresswoman. No nonsense and no offence.

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
1 month ago

Because they are imperialistic (self-defined protective) anglophones who want to infiltrate into other languages and impose their ideas..!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Not saying this is a sufficiently important reason not to use the term ‘Latin’, but as somebody with an interest in antiquity and linguistics, it is legitimately somewhat annoying that it can be so awkward to search for stuff related to the Latin language or the geographical region of Latium.