Languages in Argentina

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Languages in Argentina

The official language is Spanish. Generally, most people speak Spanish correctly, albeit using a local dialect, Castellano Rioplatense, which is subtly different from both the language of Spain and that of Central America. Most notably, the pronoun "tu" is replaced by "vos", and the you plural pronoun "vosotros" replaced with "ustedes", the latter being common throughout Latin America. Besides, there are separate verb conjugations, sometimes significantly different for irregular verbs in present tense and informal commands. Additionally, people from each city pronounce words differently too! In this way, people from Buenos Aires speak differently compared to those from Spain and other Spanish speaking countries; example: chicken in Spanish (pollo) is pronounced PO-zhO or PO-SHO by the "Porteños" (residents of Buenos Aires), with the SH sound harder than in Spanish; unlike most other Spanish speakers of South America who pronounces it PO-yo. However, all Argentinians learn standard Castillian Spanish in school, so while not the first language of choice, people would generally be competent enough to communicate.

Rioplatense Spanish is also heavily influenced by Italian, even frequently being mistaken for it: it is a result of the large influx of Italian immigrants. Hand gestures derived from Italy are extremely common, and many colloquialisms are borrowed from Italian (for example: instead of saying "cerveza", which means beer, youngsters find "birra" cooler, which is in Italian). Most locals can readily understand most Spanish dialects, as well as Portuguese or Italian (especially due to its similarity to the local Spanish). English is mandatory in high school and usually understood in at least a basic level in tourists' areas. German and French can be understood and to some extent spoken by small fractions of the population. A few places in Patagonia near Rawson have native Welsh speakers. Words borrowed from aboriginal languages include: quechua, guarani, mataco, che, mate and others.

The interjection "che loco" are extremely common and mean approximately the same as English "hey!". It can also be employed as a phrase known to someone you don't remember their names. Ex: "Escucháme, Che,..." Sometimes it is peppered through out the speech, similar to the English phrase "you killa man." Nonetheless, communication will not be a problem for any Spanish speaker.

Argentines will communicate with each other using lunfardo, a street dialect or slang. It is used together with Spanish by replacing nouns with their synonyms in lunfardo. As opposed to changing the original meaning, it just makes the phrase more colourful. An important aspect of lunfardo is that it is only spoken. For example, one knows the word dinero (money), but may use the word "guita" in order to refer to the same things. Lunfardo is composed of about 5,000 words, many of which do not appear in the dictionary.

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