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28-Jul-2016 16:55

,” by Ilan Stavans, which has drawn a lot of attention from the [email protected] community.In the article, Stavans attempts to trace the etymology of the term Chicano while simultaneously using it to psychoanalyze that community. I won’t address the bigger issue with his assessment—I’ll leave that to veteranos who’ll undoubtedly pick his fallacious argument apart.Rather, this post will hopefully serve to put to rest the erroneous notion, repeated by Stavans, that the terms Chicana and Chicano are no older than the mid 20-century.In his piece, Stavans claims to have “researched” the origin of the term Chicano and discredits the accepted explanation among many [email protected] that it’s derived from the Nahuatl pronunciation of Mexicano.The fact is that the letter “x” was substituted for “sh” by the early chroniclers due to the absence of that sound in Spanish.In time, some words with the “x” were Hispanicized with the letter “j” while others were transformed by the Spanish equivalent of “sh” to the “ch.” Hence, Me(shi)cano is thought to have been shortened to Chicano over the centuries. Stavans is skeptical of that story, and perhaps rightly so.-century map called “Desegno del Discoperto Della Nova Franza,” Venice, 1566, by Bolognino Zaltieri, that contains the term “Chicana” (link).As it turns out, there are other 16th century maps that also contain this term.

Vento, (1998) that briefly talks about the early explorer maps.[3] In referring to the etymology of the term Chicano, Vento says that: “One only has to look at a map to discover the archeological ruins of ‘Chicanna’ in southern Mexico to verify its pre-Colombian origin.”[4] He doesn’t provide a map or source for his claim, but his statement shows that at least since 1998, someone was aware that the term Chicana had ancient origins dating prior to 1848.

Although contrary to my findings, he places “Chicanna” in southern Mexico.

However, he ignores the principle of “Occam’s razor” and proceeds to complicate it even further.

Astonishingly, Stavans states with absolute confidence that “the original appearance of [1] Had he dug a little deeper, Stavans would have discovered that in fact, the earliest known example of the term Chicano in print (in the United States) was in 1926, by a former immigrant laborer turned writer, Daniel Venegas.[2] So much for research.

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This is important for many reasons, one of them being the continued debate over the etymology and antiquity of the term Chicana and Chicano.

The following map update was sparked by a recent article, “Do Chicanos Have an Inferiority Complex?