Easily Confused Words: Chicano vs. Chicago

Chicano and Chicago are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Chicano (pronounced “chee-kawn-oh”) is a proper noun. It means a Mexican-American male; Chicana (“chee-con-ah”) is the female version of the word. This term came into prominence in the 1960s during the Mexican Civil Rights movement headed by Cesar Chavez. [Click the Chavez link to learn more. There’s also a list of Chicano literature here. List of famous people here.]

Chicago (pronounced “shih-kawg-oh”) is a proper noun. It means the most populous city in the state of Illinois. It’s metro area has a population of approximately 10 million, making it the third largest one in the US behind New York and Los Angeles.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Chihiro had only one week off from work. She planned to spend it taking in some culture in Chicago. She was trying to plan her itinerary. She asked her smartphone assistant app, “Does Chicago have a Chicano Art Museum?” The phone responded, “Yes. It is at 1852 W 19th St. They are open 10am-5pm daily.” 

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