Chicano

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The terms Chicano and Chicana (also spelled Xicana) were originally used by Americans in reference to U.S. citizens of Mexican descent, particularly those who are indigenous to the American states belonging to Mexico prior to the Mexican-American War. Historically, they can be viewed as descendants of Spanish-speaking Native Americans who were more integrated into Spanish colonial Mexican culture.

The term began to be widely used during the Chicano Movement, mainly among Mexican Americans, especially in the movement's peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


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Etymology

The origin of the word "chicano" is a shorterned form of Mexicano (Mexican in Spanish). Mexico as spoken in its original Nahuatl and by the Spaniards at the time of the conquest was pronounced originally with a "sh" sound as opposed to current pronunciation and transcribed with an "x" as was the usage in Spanish at the time. The difference between the pronunciation and spelling of chicano and mexicano stems from the fact that the modern-day Spanish language experienced a change in pronunciation regarding a majority of words containing the "x" (e.g. México, Ximenez, Xavier, Xarabe). The "sh" sound was dropped and in most, but not all, cases accompanied by a change of spelling (x to j). The word Chicano in the US was evidently not affected by this change.

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