Is the word "indigenous" a bit impolite?


New Member
Español - Andalú
Hi! I am talking about languages and I want to state "languages existing in America prior to the Spanish colonization". As I consider the colonization a sore point, I want to be as politically correct as posible, so my question is: which terminology is better: "Indigenous languages of the Americas" or "Native languages of the Americas"? I would have liked to use indigenous just because it is a more evocative adjective but suddenly I wasn't sure if there is some kind of implicit prejudiced or xenophobic meaning in it. Could you help me?
Thanks in advance!
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It's fine. It has no particular connotation to me, and 'indigenous' seems to be the standard scholarly and political term.


    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Attitudes about this language seem to shift fairly rapidly (for instance, I was told not long ago by an Alaska Native that "Indian" was now preferred over "Native American" - but that was certainly not the case a few decades ago). At the moment, "indigenous" is a word used by the politically conscious in the United States to refer to non-colonist populations, or "first peoples." With that in mind, I'd say that your use of "Indigenous languages of the Americas" is not only non-xenophobic, or neutral; it's the preferred terminology.
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