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I'm updating a list of employees for a client and came across one labeled as "Spanish Speaking." I'd like to replace that with the appropriate word or words in Spanish.

The three options I've found are:

  • Habla Español
  • Hispanohablante
  • Hispanoparlante

But I'm not sure which one is correct, or if it even matters using English is fine. I'm trying to be both politically and linguistically correct.

I don't know if it matters in this context, but this client is likely to only be dealing with native Spanish speakers either from Mexico or the US.

  • Hispanohablante is more common in Spain. I think hispanoparlante is preferred in Mexico but I'm not sure. Besides that, all three forms are grammatically correct but only the two last options are nouns/adjectives, while the first is a clause. Also, remember demonyms are never capitalized in Spanish. – Yay Mar 3 '16 at 22:01
  • @Yay Why are they never capitalized? I'm both curious, and I might need an argument for the client. I'm going to use the word as a continuation of the employee's title or a stand-alone line beneath. Would it still not be capitalized? – VampDuc Mar 3 '16 at 22:04
  • Nope. I cannot tell you why, it's just the rules. Adjectives aren't capitalized except when they are a part of a name (Puerto Rico, Estrella Polar, Biblioteca Nacional, Edad Media), or, occasionally, in certain titles (Isabel la Católica, Atila el Huno, el Cid Campeador), but not when they are a mere demonym. For an authoritative reference, see this entry on Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (only in Spanish). – Yay Mar 3 '16 at 22:23
  • Hispanohablante is preferred here in Mexico. – SergioCarlosFG Mar 3 '16 at 22:46
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All work, but you need a de in front of habla española (note the gender) because that's a noun phrase rather than an adjective. You'll also hear the variants de habla hispana and de habla castellana, in addition to extra adjectival option hispanófono.

Based on Google's N-Grams, we can see that de habla [hispana/española/castellana] has historically been the most common structure, although hispanohablante is definitely rising in popularity. N-Grams doesn't distinguish by country, but I don't really ever hear hispanoparlante these days from anyone, and hear hispanohablante and the de habla X regularly enough that none strikes me as odd.

You can also do the same with most other languages:

  • Portuguese: lusohablante, lusoparlante, lusófono, or de habla portuguesa
  • French: francohablante, francoparlante, francófono, de habla francesa
  • Chinese: sinohablante, sinoparlante, sinófono, de habla china
  • German: germanohablante, germanoparlante, germanófono, de habla alemana
  • Italian: italohablante, italoparlante, italófono, de habla italiana
  • English: anglohablante, angloparlante, anglófono, de habla inglesa

Note that the adjectival forms will use a compositional element based on the Latin form of the language's name, rather than an adjective, and so is often a teeny bit different (and other times very different) from the language's normal adjectival form.

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