Oriental/Asian (name for people)


Senior Member
The purpose of this thread is to find a proper translation into Spanish of the terms Oriental and Asian with regards to people.

the following information was extracted fro the Wikipedia entry for "Orient".

American English: "Oriental" is believed by some to be antiquated, pejorative, and disparaging due to its Eurocentric usage in the United States.

British English: In British English, the term Oriental is not considered to be a pejorative or offensive word, and refers to people from East and Southeast Asia. Asian is generally used only to mean people from South Asia.

Australian English: In Australian English, the term "Asian" generally refers to people of East Asian descent, such as those of Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese or Chinese descent. This term however also extends to other Mongoloids, such as those of Filipino and Thai descent. Persons of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and most other South Asian descent are referred to by their respective demonym, but without explicit knowledge, those people are indeterminately inferred as "Indian."
The word Oriental, in place of Asian, is seldom used in colloquial conversation in Australia and is understood, but considered anachronistic rather than offensive.

Canadian English:
In Canadian English, as with Australian English and Hiberno-English, "Asian" most often refers to people of eastern or southeastern Asian descent. It can be expanded, however, such as when referring to colonial times, to include South Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka, as is common usage by South Asians themselves. In Canada persons of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan descent by their respective demonym but without explicit knowledge, are indeterminately inferred as "Indian." In modern Canadian usage, according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the term "Oriental" is considered offensive when applied to a person of East Asian ancestry.

Now, what is the proper translation of "Oriental" and "Asian" into Spanish, and which term is preferred.
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  • donbeto

    Senior Member
    Eng (Canada)
    I'll start with the easy one first. Asian would be asiático.

    Oriental, well that might be the same word. It's either that, or oriental. I'll defer to what my Spanish colleagues say.


    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    It's true that in North America "Oriental" is considered offensive. But in Spanish it's not, so you can just say oriental.
    Being myself Oriental, I don't consider it Eurocentric, as even ourselves defines ourselves as such in Chinese.

    Unfortunately, in many Spanish-speaking countries East Asians are called chinos or japas.


    Senior Member
    British English
    The purpose of this thread is to find a proper translation into Spanish of the terms Oriental and Asian with regards to people.

    Oriental: oriental, del extremo oriente, del lejano oriente.
    Asian: asiático

    Neither of these terms are considered to be pejorative or offensive , and refer to people from The Far East.

    Unfortunately, in many Spanish-speaking countries East Asians are called chinos or japas.
    There is not only a large number of full-blooded Chinese in Spain, but a relatively large percentage has some Chinese ancestry, since Chinese immigrants have been here for a long time.
    Spaniards call someone 'chino' (Chinese), even if they are Korean or Japanese, if they have slanted eyes.
    In my experience, they don't mean to be offensive towards Asians at all.
    Later, if the Asian person says 'I'm Japanese/Vietnamese/Thai', then people will remember that and refer to him/her as Japanese, Vietnamese or Thai.
    By the way, it's 'Japo', not 'Japa' ('Jap' in English) and, again, it's not meant to be offensive.


    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    Concuerdo con el punto de vista de loudspeaker en cuanto al uso en España. Oriental y asiático son términos muy neutros y, en mi zona, es raro oírlos aplicados a personas en contextos coloquiales, por lo imprecisos que son. El término chino no me parece ofensivo, pero a veces quizá es algo desdeñoso, ya que se aplica por defecto a todo aquel que tenga rasgos orientales. Con este sentido, la palabra ofensiva en mi tierra suele ser chinaco. Japo también es corriente y no me parece ofensivo, es sólo un acortamiento coloquial.

    Un saludo
    Just from personal experience (I'm Chinese, born in New York), I've never heard "Oriental" used pejoratively, though I've been told it often is. I also use it occasionally to describe people from what I considered the the Orient (China, North and South Korea, Mongolia, Japan). The term "Asian," in my opinion, also includes Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, the Philippines, India, Russia, and more, so I've always considered it much more ambiguous.

    But this is just my experience.

    Espero que le ayuda.
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