etymology of chicano

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Apr 28 13:48:25 UTC 2013

On Apr 28, 2013, at 5:14 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> My recollection from the '60s is that "chicano" - as it was reported on in
> the news - was once almost always in mildly derogatory contexts. I recall
> my surprise when I first heard it used neutrally (ca1970?).

my recollection as well.  and the first OED2 cite, from 1947 Arizona, is somewhat disparaging in tone:

  1947   _Arizona Q._ Summer 12   From the center of downtown Tucson the ground the banks of the Santa Cruz river. Here lies the sprawling section of the city known as El Hoyo... Its inhabitants are _chicanos_ who raise hell on Saturday night.

but with the rise of chicano consciousness, the word was quickly reclaimed.  we have the first Chicano Studies program (at Cal State Los Angeles) in 1968, followed by many others (under a variety of names, most incorporating _chicano_), and the first reference in the OED to the "Chicano movement", in 1969.  from the draft additions of August 2007:

  _Chicano movement_ n. U.S. (now chiefly hist.) a movement seeking political, social, and cultural recognition for Chicanos.
The movement rose to prominence in the late 1960s and 1970s in association with the broader civil rights movement in the United States at that time.


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