Language in Argentina



Cafe in Buenos Aires

Although Argentina's official language is Spanish, Argentinian Spanish is different from the Spanish spoken in Spain. In some ways it sounds more like Italian than Spanish. There are also many other languages spoken in Argentina, including Italian, German, English and French. Indigenous languages that are spoken today include Mapuche, Guarani, Aymara, Toba and Quechua.

Did you know?

 

In the Chubut Valley in Patagonia there is a Welsh settlement founded in 1865. For four generations, the settlers spoke Welsh, but the language is now dying out in this area.

 

You can distinguish Argentinians from other Latin Americans by their use of "che". It comes from the language used by the Mapuche and means "man." It is used as people in Canada might say, "hey" or "you know" or "eh." For example, an Argentinian might say, "Che, vení" ("Hey you, come here") to get someone's attention.

Another important difference between the Argentinean way of speaking Spanish and the Spanish spoken in Spain is the use of "vos" instead of "tu" ( you ) and a very strong pronunciation of "y" and "ll" as "sh".

A special slang, called lunfardo, originated in the slum neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. Today most Argentinians are familiar with at least a few words of lunfardo. Lunfardo contains elements of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other languages, but with a distinctive twist. One of the most common ways to change a word is to reverse the syllables. For example, in lunfardo, "tango" becomes "gotan."

Argentinians love to discuss two topics, sports (especially fútbol) and politics. Most people have strong opinions on these subjects and will discuss them with a passion. It is not unusual to find several conversations going on at once at a social gathering.