A few years ago, i wrote to Merriam-Webster about their definition of "Hispanic" in the Collegiate. The current edition was the 10th, published in 1993. The full definition, leaving out only etymology and pronunciation, was:
- adjective (circa 1889) : of, relating to, or being a person of Latin American descent living in the U.S.; especially: one of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin - Hispanic (noun) - Hispanicism (noun) - Hispanicist (noun) - Hispanicize (transitive verb)

This seemed very incomplete to me, as i had always used and understood the word also to mean "of, relating to, or being" Spanish speaking or descended Latin Americans in general (not only those living in the U.S.), and Spanish people, culture, history, literature, etc. There were Hispanic explorers. There's the Hispanic world. There are Hispanic countries, Hispanic studies... The list goes on...

I asked numerous people what they thought and not one disagreed with me. I checked many other dictionaries, including numerous recent ones. They invariably had a sense relating to Spain, usually one to Spain and Portugal, newer editions to Latin America, and a few to "living in the U.S." I even checked older Collegiates. Their 9th edition (1983) definition, in full, is as follows:
- adj (1584) : of or relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain, Spain and Portugal, or Latin America - Hispanic n - Hispanicism n - Hispanicist n - Hispanicize vt
What ?! They removed* this and replaced it with a sense referring *only to persons of Latin American descent living in the U.S. ? Even if the older senses are in decline, they've long been in use and are found in literature. What was a young student to think if s/he read something about an Hispanic explorer and looked the word up in the Collegiate (or any of M-W's smaller and school dictionaries, as it turns out) ?
So i described all this to them, including my personal experience of the word, and sent several pages of representative citations i'd gathered from the internet, from all levels of speakers/writers, categorized by sense. Book titles, college courses... the evidence was overwhelming. By the time i was done, i was convinced my case was not even debatable. They had made a mistake and needed to correct it in their next edition.
Of course i couldn't have been the first to point this out to them. Surely they'd tell me they were aware of it and planned to fix it. But a few weeks later, i received an astonishing and bewildering reply from a PhD at Merriam. I wish i could find it now to refer to. It was a rambling, incoherent, rationalized defense which beat all around the bush and offered no cogent reason for removing the older sense.

When the 11th edition came out in 2003, it was about the first thing i checked: No change.
On the basis of this and some other experiences i've had with Merriam-Webster, i suspect they were protecting their reputation, strange as it may sound. They were trapped. They could not reintroduce the older sense without acknowledging a mistake on this conspicuous word. They had to let it ride and wait for the old sense to (presumably) die out eventually and hope that the removal would later be seen as forward-thinking.
Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ?
ER Lyon
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A few years ago, i wrote to Merriam-Webster about their definition of "Hispanic" in the Collegiate. The current edition was ... eventually and hope that the removal would later be seen as forward-thinking. Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ?

Your point seems sound M-W appears to have cut a definition that remains in other dictionaries and is not obsolete. It's a pity you can't find their "rambling, incoherent" explanation; perhaps we'd get a hint as to the reason. It's pretty hard to convince someone to change their stand if you don't know what it is.
My only speculation is that there is political-correctness type controversy surrounding this word; maybe they got a terric amount of flak from people who call themselves "Hispanic" and who, for some reason, despise the other meaning of the word or something along those lines. In your research, did you look into what those arguments are about? The American Heritage entry note makes several points about them.

Best Donna Richoux
On the basis of this and some other experiences i've had with Merriam-Webster, i suspect they were protecting their reputation, ... eventually and hope that the removal would later be seen as forward-thinking. Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ?

Do they really imagine that it will die out outside the US?

What do BrE speakers think it means, since they are closer to Spain? Wouldn't the primary connotation have to do with Spain?
And here in South Africa we are closer to Louth America than to either Spain or the USA, and I tend to think of "Hispanic" are relating to people there who are of hispanic origin and culture, as opoosed in Indian.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
A few years ago, i wrote to Merriam-Webster about their definition of "Hispanic" in the Collegiate. The current edition was ... hope that the removal would later be seen as forward-thinking. Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ? ER Lyon

Possibly:
(a) Your correspondent took it personally , defended the dictionary, and did not pass it up to the editors in charge but merely wrote back to you and filed your letter.
(b) You used lower case i in referring to yourself.

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
Needless to say, "Hispanic" is an adjectival form of a old name for Spain: Hispania. Understanding the origin of this toponym may be of interest to some readers.
Hispania is a "HiS" reflexive form of the Semitic noun "face" P N. That is, it is a (mirror image) reflection of the face.

The face on the anthropomorphic map of north Africa was the area around Carthage destroyed by Rome during the 3rd Punic War, the war against the "face".
Message # 5 on the BPMaps website contains this text:
I have found no pictures from this codex on the web, but the following text gives a perfect description. Yes, it really looks this weird: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/french/as-sa/ASSA-No8/NF3.html

Thanks to Elizabeth Ten (off list) we probably now have the picture that matches that weird description. See the text at: http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/LMwebpages/230mono.html and the map at:
http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/LMwebpages/230A.html <<
Here is that weird description:

Renaissance commonplaces about the connections between the microcosm and the macrocosm take on greater relevance when read in the context of what Gandelman called "The Mediterranean as a Sea of Sin" in light of an anthropomorphic map by Opicinus de Canistris (1984, Fig. 1; 1991:
85). He explains: "One sees 'the woman', mulier, whose head and noseconstitute the coastline of North Africa (present Morocco and the Cape of Tanger), thrusting her nose toward the ear of 'the man', vir, whose head is constituted by Spain and whose armed hands correspond to the Italian peninsula and Greece. According to the inscriptions deciphered by (Georg) Salomon, what she says is: venite commiscemini nobiscum, 'come, copulate with me!' Opicinus represents the world as a gigantic and geographical copulation" (Gandelman, 1984: 245).
Petr Kazil - Urban Adventure in Rotterdam
http://www.euronet.nl/users/kazil/
<<
There seems to be an anthropomorphic map of a male body in Asia minor. I call it "Hermes". I call the female anthropomorphic map in north Africa "Aphrodite". These two bodies are connected, literally, at Sinai, a part of her body that contains the Desert of Zin, as in Hebrew Zayin = weapon, a euphemism for the male member.
Anyone who is interested in this ancient cartographic technique should join the BPMaps (Yahoo) discussion group at
/
Best regards,
Israel "izzy" Cohen
BPMaps moderator
A few years ago, i wrote to Merriam-Webster about their ... as forward-thinking. Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ?

Your point seems sound M-W appears to have cut a definition that remains in other dictionaries and is not ... to the reason. It's pretty hard to convince someone to change their stand if you don't know what it is.

I knew this would happen. I will find it eventually. All i can tell you now, whether anyone believes it or not, is that the letter did not sensibly address my points. I realize that sounds unbelievable. If i do find it, i'd love to find out if anyone else can find anything enlightening to the issue. I will probable share it with individuals rather than the group, and without the name, because i do have compunctions about displaying it publically.
My only speculation is that there is political-correctness type controversy surrounding this word; maybe they got a terric amount of flak from people who call themselves "Hispanic" and who, for some reason, despise the other meaning of the word or something along those lines.

He didn't say anything about it. I think of M-W as being above that, more than some others. If they would do that, wouldn't they have compromised "***" ?
In your research, did you look into what those arguments are about? The American Heritage entry note makes several points about them.

Yes, i recall that. Some comments were made in the recent a/an thread.

ER Lyon
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A few years ago, i wrote to Merriam-Webster about their ... as forward-thinking. Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ?

Possibly: (a) Your correspondent took it personally , defended the dictionary, and did not pass it up to the editors in charge but merely wrote back to you and filed your letter.

Or shredded it, perhaps ?
As many of you know, M-W welcomes questions and comments to their Language Research Service. In my experience, they will always reply. On three occasions, one of the usual staff editors wrote telling me they were referring my letter to so-and-so (this person). I take it he's either a higher-up, considered more qualified, or a PR man.

One time he replied to my letter asking why they removed "zymurgy", which i thought was well enough used, being related to beer and wine brewing which was a home hobby among many, was the title of a national magazine on the subject, and was used frequently on the internet. It was in all the usual major dictionaries and every other college dictionary, conspicuous for often being the last word. His reply was responsive and reasonable, with a touch of attitude. He told me they don't go by internet usage, dismissed the hobby and magazine as specialized, and said the word's Nexus count was low.
(b) You used lower case i in referring to yourself.

I don't write to them that way. Sometimes i'm practical, more formal.

ER Lyon
A few years ago, i wrote to Merriam-Webster about their ... as forward-thinking. Or has anyone a more plausible explanation ?

Possibly: (a) Your correspondent took it personally , defended the dictionary, and did not pass it up to the editors in charge but merely wrote back to you and filed your letter.

Or shredded it maybe ?
I'm sure many of you know that M-W welcomes letters with questions or comments to their Language Resaerch Service, and someone on that staff, at least in my experience, will always reply. In this case, and a couple of others, a staffer wrote telling me they were referring my letter to so-and-so (this person). I take it this PhD is either a higher-up, considered more qualified, or a PR person.

One other time previously i had received a letter from this person. I had written to ask why they removed "zymurgy" which i thought was well enough used because it relates to beer and wine brewing, a home hobby among many, there were many internet hits, and there was a magazine of that name devoted to the hobby. It is in every other college dictionary and all the usual major dictionaries, notable for often being the last word. His reply was responsive and reasonable. He told me they don't go by internet usage, dismissed the magazine and the hobby as specialized, and said the word's Nexus count was low.
(b) You used lower case i in referring to yourself.

I don't write to them that way. I'm practical sometimes, more formal.
ER Lyon
Possibly: (a) Your correspondent took it personally , defended the ... but merely wrote back to you and filed your letter.

Or shredded it, perhaps ?

Yep. Hope you kept a copy.
As many of you know, M-W welcomes questions and comments to their Language Research Service. In my experience, they will ... my letter to so-and-so (this person). I take it he's either a higher-up, considered more qualified, or a PR man.

Perhaps you could enquire.
One time he replied to my letter asking why they removed "zymurgy", which i thought was well enough used, being ... don't go by internet usage, dismissed the hobby and magazine as specialized, and said the word's Nexus count was low.

I think internet usage in general is a poor guide. There are some sites that are exceptions, such as official sites of print publishers and other large media distributors, that could be valid exceptions.

The government-owned television broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has an excellent news page, for example, in which some care is taken to write good English.
(b) You used lower case i in referring to yourself.

I don't write to them that way. Sometimes i'm practical, more formal.

I didn't for a second imagine it. I hoped you'd know I was stirring (light-heartedly).

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
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