How many Kardinaele from Argentina in Spanish

Spanish in Argentina - Argentinian Spanish?

But now I want to know exactly!

In this interview I squeeze Spanish teacher Mercedes about the peculiarities of "Argentine" Spanish. Because I keep getting emails from blog readers who would like to take a language course here. But then the alarm bells ring: Spanish in Argentina? They speak so funny!

  • Is that "real" Spanish at all?
  • Will I be understood in other Spanish-speaking countries if I attend a language course in Buenos Aires?
  • What are the peculiarities & differences of "Argentine" Spanish?
  • Which grammar topics do Germans find particularly difficult in class?
  • How do I learn good Spanish as quickly as possible?

You can get to the bottom of these and other questions here.

Mercedes, please introduce yourself briefly!

My name is Mercedes and I studied literature and linguistics at the University of Buenos Aires. Since then, I've always worked in areas related to language, writing, or teaching. I have been teaching Spanish as a foreign language since 2011. I have also given a grammar course for teachers teaching Spanish as a foreign language.

1. The "Argentine" Spanish - does it even exist?

A simple question with a complicated answer. The concept of "Argentine" comes mainly from the political arena, not the cultural one.

The real question is:

  • Are national borders also cultural borders?

The differences between Brazil and Argentina are striking because the two countries have very different histories: They belonged to different empires with different laws, architectural styles and languages.

Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay was fought over by both sides and you can see the differences in the construction in the historic city center.

Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, on the other hand, have a common history. Some of these countries also share a common geography (e.g. the Chaco region, the "Puna" plateau) up to common languages ​​like Spanish, Guaraní, Quechua, Coya etc. State borders are therefore artificial borders.

  • "Argentine Spanish": People speak differently in the south than in the north

"Argentine Spanish" would mean that you can do one within the country Homogeneity of language and its use - and it is not. There are significant differences between the Spanish spoken in Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego and that spoken in Misiones in northeast Argentina.

Nevertheless, we all understand each other when we speak Spanish.

  • "Latin American Spanish"?

But if the relationship between language and country is so important (“THE Argentine Spanish”), why not speak of Latin American Spanish? At least there would be one continental criterion - in contrast to Spanish from Spain. “Latin American” would thus be defined as

  • a Spanish without "vosotros"(2nd person plural, this is only used in Spain),
  • with a different vocabulary,
  • another story,
  • another culture etc.

2. Is it understood in other countries if you speak “Argentine” Spanish?

First of all, I would say - and underline this in bold - that Spanish is ONE language.

That means it

  • uniform rules that are above the use of certain dialects and structures
  • a certain vocabulary that is understood by all,
  • there are uniform forms and structures of dialogue & uniform forms of expression

In this sense, the Spanish spoken in Argentina is not tied to national borders.

"Argentine Spanish" is understood wherever Spanish is spoken

Noticeable in Argentina - and therefore perhaps also the frequency of the question - is that accentor the pronunciation (although this is also not the same in all of Argentina). Some say the pronunciation is picturesque, others laugh at it.

I am referring primarily to the debate in the Río de la Plata area (Border river between Argentina and Uruguay).

3. What are the specifics of Río de la Plata Spanish?

  • The "Y" and "ll" become like here"sch" spokenwhich ensures that you are immediately recognized as an Argentinian / Uruguayan everywhere.
  • the usage of "Vos" instead of "tú" (you). This has mainly to do with Argentina's history, immigration, especially Italian, which changed the language - some say enriched it.


Then there is the famous one "Che", which is used in Argentina and which gave its name to the hero of the Cuban revolution: Ernesto "Che" Guevara. This word comes from the Guaraní, a northern native language spoken in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

We use it here in very different contexts:

  • as greeting,
  • as one Kind of friendly salutation,
  • as introduction,
  • to give a statement a certain (amicable, mitigating) importance to give etc.

Partly be here too completely different words used as in Spain: suitcase means here "valija", in Spain "maleta“.

You could also attach the Lunfardo (see question 7)

4. What is the "correct" Spanish now?

I ask you a counter question:

Does Spanish belong to the Spaniards? Does language have an owner?

You can't just speak of “one language” in Spain - there is Basque, Catalan, Galician, Aranese and numerous regional dialects.

So what does the question of speaking Spanish imply? There is a story behind it, one History of domination.

There is a huge area on the other side of the world where Spanish is spoken as well. Does that mean that an incorrect language or a variety of a "correct" language is spoken in America?

Yes, the pronunciation is partly different, varies depending on the region, the words change, there are dialects everywhere, the language mixes with other languages.

But all in all it remains A language - also for the Real Academia Española (comparable to the Duden).

And there is no right or wrong!

To make this clear: Let's move away from Spanish, would one say that the English spoken in the USA, Australia, Canada or New Zealand is wrong or no English?

The "correct" language is and remains an ideological phenomenon.

The Iberian Peninsula is thatCradle of the Spanish language. But children do not remain children, they grow, become fully fledged, become adults.

5. You often have German-speaking students. Is there a topic that we Germans find difficult across the board?

I had and still have many German students. I have to admit that Mother tongue influences the learning of a foreign language has - positive as well as negative. Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't learn a certain language.

German is not a Romance language such as French, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian or Spanish. As a result, there are certain differences in structure and vocabulary.

  • There are 4 pasts in Spanish

The structure and use of the past is very complex in Spanish. There are at least four pasts (perfect, indefinido, imperfect, past perfect, and a few variations) and each is used with a specific intention in a specific context.

The big difference to Germanic languages ​​lies in the use of Indefinido and Past tense.

Usually students find it difficult to learn how to use the past and they are desperate to memorize rules. It's difficult, but not impossible.

And when they have mastered it to some extent, the next monster knocks on the door: the one Subjunctive.

This corresponds to in in some cases the German subjunctive, in others not at all. Learning the subjunctive means dealing intensively with constructions and structures that are typical of the Spanish language.

For example, students usually say: “La ciudad de Buenos Aires tiene muchos museos y teatros.Eso me gusta.”(Buenos Aires has a lot of museums and theaters. I like that).

This sentence is grammatically correct, but a native speaker would use a different structure here: "Me gusta que la ciudad de Buenos Aires tenga (that's the Subjunctive) muchos museos y teatros“(I like that Buenos Aires has a lot of museums and theaters).

This is just a simple example, the subjunctive is very complex.

But the Germans have one big advantage: They know the grammar. They know what a subject is, what a verb and above all what a subordinate clause is. This helps a lot in learning and understanding the subjunctive.

I could also address other topics such as ser and estar (Note: there are 2 words for the verb "to be" in Spanish). But the greatest difficulties lie with the past and the subjunctive.

6. I'm learning Spanish at a language school in Buenos Aires and I feel like I'm making good progress. Then I meet with Argentines and I don't understand a word. Why is that?

This is an old discussion that always comes up when learning foreign languages.

For example, I once traveled to Berlin. At that time I already knew a little German. During the first few days I felt like a penguin in the desert because I couldn't understand a word.

Think of a language like a cake with many layers

First, there is the difference between Grammar / written language and spoken language:

  • Language and grammar based on standardized rules. These are abstract.
  • In contrast, the use of a language, i.e. the spoken language, one concrete and real situation, namely the Communication of people. This means that you use certain sentences in a certain context, plus local use of language, dialect, stylistic devices such as exaggeration, etc.

The teaching of a language is based on standardized models, but the real interaction is not.

If you then consider that there are many regions where Spanish is very different from other regions, we are faced with a problem.

The Río de la Plata Spanish differs largely from standardized Spanish in:

  • the pronunciation,
  • the use of Lunfardo,
  • the speed and melody

In class, of course, the teacher uses easily understandable and memorable words, speaks slowly and clearly.

In "real" life the circumstances are almost the opposite: You talk to native speakerswho have no didactic understanding, who use vocabulary with which they are familiar (e.g. Lunfardo) and who usually speak very quickly.

Tip: Don't rest on your "classroom Spanish"!

That's why I always recommend to my students not resting on the Spanish they learn in class, but also to listen to the radio and watch TV so that they can familiarize themselves with the real uses of the language here. And also to talk a lot with the people here.

All in all, of course, it is and remains Spanish, with the rules that you learn in class.

Lunfardo is a jargon of the Río de la Plata area, mainly by the tango was spread. Lunfardo is today from the Porteños (Resident of Buenos Aires) used in spoken Spanish as a kind of code of complicity.

The Lunfardo also count

  • Native American wordslike "che", which has its origin in the Guaraní,
  • and Neologisms (Word creations)
  • as many words that were clearly coined by the immigrants.

An example: In Spanish means worktrabajar", in Italian "lavorare". Here is often "laburary" instead of "trabajar“Used.

Lunfardo originated in the lower classes and prisons and spread with the tango. Today you can also find Lunfardo in rock and pop songs, in literature etc.

One might think Lunfardo is out of date, but it is not. On the contrary, it is widespread, is passed on through the generations and is constantly changing.

Origin of the words - how the "bondi" came to Argentina

Often it is also interesting that Origin of words to pursue.

The word "bondi"Is a good example:

"Bus" means in Argentina "colectivo", but in Buenos Aires you often hear"bondi". This word comes from Brazilian Portuguese, a language whose words do not end with a plosive sound (p, t, k, b, d, g).

The English founded the railway company "Bond" in Brazil. This name was unpronounceable, so that the inhabitants nicknamed it "bondi" - and so the "bondi" finally sailed to the Río de la Plata.

8. How long does it take to speak perfect Spanish?

Counter question: What is “perfect Spanish”?

When speaking Spanish perfectly means that you have to correctly apply and follow every rule of the Real Academia Española, then not even the native speakers speak perfect Spanish.

I'll come back to that Use of language back.

The spoken language is full of words, phrases and phrases that match the break rules.

So if we assume that means “perfect Spanish”, too to break the rules and to know when and where this is possible without making serious mistakes when we are writing a text or talking and the other person not only understands what we are saying, but also what we are saying wantthen we can use the term "speak Spanish perfectly" on that basis.

It depends a lot on yourself to be able to speak like a native speaker. For some it might take six months. These are those who have a very good feeling and understanding of grammar and an enormous talent for imitation. These conditions are of course enviable. At the other extreme, for example, a person who has lived in a Spanish-speaking country for 25 years and still cannot express themselves completely correctly and / or has poor pronunciation. In this case there is some adjustment resistance.

Speaking "perfect Spanish" depends above all on your own abilities.

Also note that the The learning process is never linear. In between there is always again

  • Highs and lows
  • Setbacks,
  • too much input that cannot be processed
  • and “bug contagion” (for example, when talking to other non-native speakers).

Overcoming these phases depends on the skills and perseverance of each person and on the time they give themselves to make these changes.

9. Your tips for learning a foreign language quickly and in depth?

For me, learning a new language means one too new view of things to get; to understand the world that surrounds you a little better. Every language has its complexity and its richness, including the “easy languages”.

My first tip is that Not to force learning process and progressbecause that usually ends in an inner resistance to the language. A foreign language is not the mother tongue. Accepting this is sometimes difficult and frustrating. The subjunctive is a clear example of this. Many students simply memorize the structures that require the subjunctive and then suddenly find out in the further learning process that these structures lead into infinity and that new ones are always added.

One should much time take to learn that and not despair in the process. It is possible to learn and apply all of this. It just takes a lot of practice and time.

  • 2. Soak everything up like a sponge & imitate the locals

My second tip is to always perk up your ears and soak everything up like a sponge. That means listening to how the locals speak and trying to imitate it. This is how you learn a lot of expressions that are worth gold.

  • 3. Find a balance between grammar, vocabulary & practical application

Third, it is important to have one Balance between learning grammar and vocabulary to find.

There is no point in knowing the complete grammar and theory, but not being able to apply them in practice - and vice versa. Often the students understand the grammar quite quickly and want to move on to the next topic / language level straight away. So you have an advanced level on paper in a short time. In terms of vocabulary and expression, however, you are still at a beginner level. So it's important to get into Patience and perseverance to practice.

  • 4. Continue learning independently

Fourth, I recommend that what is learned in class to continue learning independently with topics that interest you. For example Movies, books, magazines, newspaper articles, crossword puzzles etc. be. Everything in Spanish, of course. This is extremely helpful in the learning process and arouses curiosity.

Finally, I'll go back to an old saying: Practice creates masters!

10. There is a lot of cursing in Buenos Aires. What's this all about and where do I learn to curse like a local?

Hahaha, that's what you like the most ... Admittedly, me too.

It's true, the Río de la Plata Spanish offers a wide range to order express strong feelings. This is definitely an enrichment because you can reproduce a feeling as vividly as the situation demands.

  • Do you want to learn to curse? Go to the stadium!

The problem is that you can't teach that in class, you have to learn “correct” Spanish there. But there are dictionaries, stories and other forms of learning typical swear words. A good way is to use ins Stadion to go. In less than ten minutes, you'll learn the swear words we use the most.

The swear words I like the most are the ones that make me laugh or really let off steam.

  • The art of exaggeration - typically Argentinian!

If you want to curse like a local, you have to Art of exaggeration dominate. In order for this to have an appropriate effect, it is important to use an original expression or a familiar one in a new context so that the swear word gets across correctly.

Exaggeration is an important part of Argentine culture in general. This either makes everything untrustworthy, ridiculed, confirmed or simply a venerable mess.

There are no gray areas. And the swear words express just that.

Dear Mercedes, thank you very much for your time and the detailed answer to the questions.

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