Argentina and Chile
Conquest and Colonisation:
Settlement of Argentina and Chile
• Spanish presence in
Argentina from 1516: origins
of settlers to each region
begins to shape dialects
• Spanish arrival in Chile 1540
• Settlement of Chile difficult natural geography and
conflict with natives. Not
complete until late 17th
Century, centralised
Colonial Period
• Argentina
– Constant reshuffling of settlements and jurisdiction
– Southern Pampas settled from Buenos Aires
– Steady growth of Buenos Aires as a commercial
hub from late 18th century
• Chile
– Originally formed part of the Viceroyalty of Lima as
its ‘founders’ had ventured south from Peru
– Frontier garrison against Mapuche and European
enemies: Vast standing army aided linguistic
Independence & Mass immigration
Independence from Spain during early 19th century
– Mass immigration from Europe throughout 19th and early 20th
centuries leading to development of dialects.
– Most significantly Italian but also Spanish, Russian, Syrian, Lebanese,
French, English
→ Lunfardo and Rioplatense
– Flourishing economy and population
– Mixing of nationalities transformed language, especially lexicon
– Strong influence of French romanticism on Argentinan oral and written
discourse gave way to many lexical borrowings
– Late 19th century expansion into Peru and Bolivia following the War of the
– Similar waves of European immigration but with no such significant
impact on language due to less concentrated population and no one
major immigration group
– More recent immigration mostly from other Latin American countries,
adding to homogenisation of dialects.
– More linguistic mixing with native languages than in Argentina
• Alvar, Manuel, Manual de dialectología hispánica: El
español de América Barcelona: Editorial Ariel 1996
• Lewis, Daniel K., The History of Argentina USA:
Palgrave Macmillan 2003
• Lipski, John, Latin American Spanish, London:
Longman 1994
• Rojas Mayer, Elena M., El diálogo en el español de
América: Estudio pragmalingüística-histórico Madrid:
Iberoamericana 1998
• Confederación de Entidades Argentino Árabes:
Phonetic, Intonation,
Conjugation and Lexicon
• Rioplatense Spanish is mainly based in the
cities bordering El Río de la Plata, thus Buenos
Aires, Santa Fe, la Plata and Rosario in
Argentina, but also Montevideo in Uruguay and
the respective suburbs of these cities.
• Classified as a dialect of Spanish.
• Spanish is the official language in Argentina,
spoken by almost the entire population (+40
• Another 25 vernacular languages, both alive and
extinct exist in various regions. The most
important, spoken by over 1 million people &
product of the internal migrations in Perú, Bolivia
and Paraguay are:
• Guaraní (spoken in the provinces of Corrientes,
Misiones, Chaco, Formosa, Entre Ríos); made
up of 6 dialects
• Quichua, of the Quechua family; made up of 2
dialects: Quechua sudboliviano & Quichua
• Aimara (spoken in Jujuy, Northern Salta and by
Peruvian and Bolivian immigrants)
1- Main shibboleth in Argentine Spanish: the
yeísmo, where the sounds represented by ll
(the palatal lateral /ʎ/) and y (historically the
palatal approximant /j/) have fused into one.
This merged phoneme is generally
pronounced as a postalveolar fricative, either
voiced [ʒ] in the central and western parts of
the dialect region (this phenomenon is called
zheísmo) or voiceless [ʃ] in porteño, which is
the Spanish spoken in and around Buenos
Aires (called sheísmo).
The pronunciation of y, ll is always an obstruent
consonant, very different from a glide [i].
Lleno [ʒéno] ; yerba (mate leaves) [ʒérβa] = postalveolar
whilst hielo [ʝélo]; hierba (grass) [ʝérβa]= glide
• Words like se calló and se cayó become
• Pronunciations such as [ʒélo] for hielo are
frowned upon in Standard Argentinian as a
sign of low cultural level
• This occurs especially amongst the porteños,
the name given to the inhabitants of Buenos
Aires. As you go further north or south of the
Capital, this phonetic feature becomes less
2- Aspiration of the fricative ‘s’ when when
followed by another consonant, E.g. viste
(vihte), fuiste (fuihte), es que (eh que)
Esto es lo mismo is pronounced something
like [ˈɛ ˈɛh lɔ ˈmih.mɔ]
• Pronunciation of the ‘s’ when at the end of a
word. E.g. Vos, muchos, casas
 Clear differentiation between singulars and
3- In some areas, speakers tend to drop the
final r sound in verb infinitives. This elision is
considered a feature of uneducated speakers
in some places, but it is widespread in others,
at least in rapid speech
• Particular intonation pattern: The ‘Long Fall’ = a high
tone on the most prominent syllable of a phrase and a
fall to a low tone within that same syllable, which creates
its melodic sound
 CHARACTERISTICS of the long fall: (typical but not
1) falling pitch on a single nuclear syllable (navegar,
concurso, publicados)
2) substantial lengthening of the nuclear syllable (lindo,
medio, ríos)
• The salient syllable is often greatly exaggerated in
duration, sometimes lasting 5 times the length of the
other syllables in a word
• Spanish stressed syllables are usually not more than
50% longer than unstressed ones
Where does this intonation contour come from?
• There is at least one romance language
known as robustly non-syllable-timed, which
instead has a very noticeable lengthening of
stressed syllables, either by lengthening the
stressed vowel* , or lengthening the
consonant closing the syllable*’ : Italian
* fantastica ;
*’ bello, fratello, impercepibile, terribile (down
• Argentinian in many aspects follows
intonation patterns of the Italian dialects and
the porteños speak with an intonation that
most closely resembles Neapolitan
-Prestigious variety of Argentinian Spanish
- Prior to the wave of Italian immigration, the porteño accent
was more similar to that of Spain, particularly Andalucía
• Voseo (absence of ‘tu’, replaced by ‘vos’)
• Absence of ‘vosotros’, replaced by ‘ustedes’
& respective declinations
• Modified form of imperative (eg. Vos, hablá
más despacio; ¡andáte! ; ¡mirá! ;
¡escucháme! ; vení acá)
• In the preterite, an s is often added, for
instance (vos) perdistes. This corresponds to
the classical vos conjugation found in
literature.  Compare Iberian Spanish form
vosotros perdisteis. (This form is often
deemed incorrect)
About 9000 Rioplatense words, which in many cases are not
used or understood anywhere else. Most differences concern
fruits, garments and everyday objects, which have an immense
influence from Italian. For example:
fresas -> frutillas
piña -> ananá (ananas in Italian)
melocotón -> durazno
maleta -> valija (valigia in Italian)
(For a complete list:
• ‘Puede considerarse como el idioma del
tango argentino’.
• It was born together with tango in the brothels
at the end of the 19th century.
• Some say ‘lunfardo’ was the word used by
theives to classify themselves. The ‘fardo’
was what they called the big sheet that
robbers wrapped their goods in.
• Others say it comes from the French lumbard
which referred to those who came from the
Italian region of Lombardy.
• Many of the words in its vocabulary come from Italian,
especially from the Genovese dialect. Others are
formed by inverting the order of letters (loca=colifa;
pantalón = lompa)
Bacán/ barulio = noise (baccano in Italian)
Quilombo = a mess
Laburo = job (lavoro in Italian)
Birome = pen (biro in Italian)
Tener fiaca = to feel tired, without energy (in Italian
‘sentirsi fiacco’)
Mina = chica
Pibe = chico
Che = tío, colega
Re = muy
Recanchero/ bárbaro = cool
Boludo = tonto, colega
Es un embole = es muy aburrido
• Orlando Alba, Zonificación dialectal del español en América, in
César Hernández Alonso (ed.), Historia Presente del español
de América, (1992, Pabecal: Junta de Castilla y León)
• Manuel Alvar, Manual de la dialectología hispana: el español
de América (1966, Barcelona)
• José Ignacio Hualde , The sounds of Spanish
• Ellen M. Kaisse, The Long Fall, An intonational melody of
Argentinian Spanish, , extracted from Current Issues in
Linguistic Theory: Features and Interfaces in Romance, edited
by Julia Herschelsohn, Enrique Mallén, Karen Zagona
• Christoph Gabriel, Ingo Feldhausen, Andrea Peškova,
Contrastive and neutral focus in porteño Spanish, University of
Hamburg, IRom Collaborative Research Center 538
“Multilingualism”, Project H9.
• There is little variation in
high level Chilean across
the 2000 mile territory
• However, there is more
variation in the vernacular.
• The dialect of prestige is
that of the SantiagoValparaíso area.
• Greater influence of
indigenous languages
than in Argentina
Differences around Chile:
Other Languages
• 17 million Chileans, 14 million speak
Chilean Spanish as their first language.
• Chile is characterised by 9 other living
languages – principally Mapudungun
and Quechua – and 7 extinct ones.
Phonological Differences
• Lenz believed differences in Chilean Spanish could
be attributed to the influence of the Mapuches – not
been proved.
• The relative homogeneity of Chilean Spanish is
attributed to nature of Spanish of colonisers –
generally rustic.
• Most of the differences found in Chilean Spanish are
present in other Spanish American dialects
• Chilean differentiation is due to different social,
political and administrative life in the colonial era.
Main Phonological Features
• Syllable and word final /s/ is reduced to an aspiration [h] or lost
• Along border with Bolivia, there is some retention of sibilant [s]
is found among Aymara speakers
• In Cautín, /s/ is systematically lost due to interference of
• Word final /n/ is alveolar - bien. Velarization is found only in
extreme northern Chile – old Peru
• Neutralizing syllable-final liquids happens in lowest classes - /l/
and /r/
• Urban working classes occasionally drop the word-final /r/,
particularly in verbal infinitives
Main Phonological Features
• Most of Chile has neutralized /λ/ and /y/ in favour of a
palatal fricative [y] – calle, cayó
• Some lleísmo in rural areas of southern Chile
• Some Aymara speakers of extreme north-eastern
Chile do retain /λ/, but they are properly regarded as
speakers of a macro-Bolivian dialect of Spanish
• Cautín - /l/ features in Spanish words, probably due
to the existence of a similar sound in Mapundugun.
Main Phonological Features
• The posterior fricative /x/ acquires a palatal pronunciation
[ç] before front vowels (e and i), at times approaching a
diphthongized [çj] – mujer
• /x/ is weak aspiration in extreme southern Chile
• Suppression of d in –ado
• Chilean /č/ is routinely cited as a distinguishing feature of
the dialect, in view of its frequent prepalatal articulation,
approximating [ts]. There is a fricative pronunciation of /č/
in southern Chile.
• In much of Chile, the multiple /rr/ is given a groove
fricative articulation/assibilation - perro
Morphological Differences
• Unique use of vos
• both vos and tú exist, but tú predominates.
• Vos carried social stigma, however it is
currently being regained by younger
• Hybrid forms have evolved: tus and yos due
to hypercorrection and mixing tuteo and
voseo, and cross-combinations e.g. tú tenís
and vos tienes
Morphological Differences
• Flexibility of verb morphology used with
both vos and tú
• Endings are –ar = -ái - cantái
• -er + -ir = ís – sabís/venís
• Cautín – tú is the only form of address
• There is also a predominance of the
futuro atlántico: ir a
Lexical Differences
• Anglicisms due to the influence of the
British in the mining industry
• The extreme geography and isolation of
many areas has caused considerable
regionalization of daily vocabulary
Lexical Differences
Arrechunches – personal possessions
Chiches – money
Gallo – guy
Fome – boring
Futre – well-dressed individual/member
of the élite
• Acaso = vale
Influences from other
• The main influence of indigenous languages is in the
• Influence of Peru on northern Chile
• North-eastern Chile and Bolivia – blending of speech,
especially among Aymara speakers - small but
stable Aymara-speaking community.
• Mapuches were the principal indigenous group of
Chile – central region, successfully resisted the
Spanish colonisers for many years. Driven further
south by Spanish.
• Initially an Incan presence in Northern Chile, but not
very strong.
• Extreme Western areas of Argentina share Chilean
characteristics – Mendoza, San Juan etc – due to
these formerly forming part of Chile.
Influences from other
• Still unsure about the extent of the influence of
Mapuche/Araucano on Chilean Spanish
• Mapuche still spoken in communities in Southern
Chile, sometimes predominates over Spanish, but the
language is receding.
• Other small indigenous groups that had been present
in Chile have ceased to exist.
• Not a very strong African presence, but some black
slaves were imported throughout the colonial period.
Unsure about the extent of African influence on
Chilean Spanish.
• Easter Island and Chiloé Island are also
characterised by differences.
Influences from other
Quechua-influenced lexicon:
guaso: rústico, campesino de Chile
chuchoca: maíz cocido y seco
huachalomo: lonja de carne
chacra: granja
garúa: llovizna
pampa: cualquiera llanura que no tiene
vegetación arbórea
Influences from other
• Mapuche-influenced lexicon:
• cahuín: reunión de gente para beber y
embriagarse; comentario, boche
• guata: panza, barriga
• un pichintún: un poco, una pequeña
• Alvar, M., Manual de dialectología hispánica:
El español de América, (Barcelona: Editorial
Ariel, 1996)
• Lipski, J., Latin American Spanish, (London:
Longman, 1994)
• Moreno de Alba, J. G., El español de
América, (México : Fondo de Cultura
Económica, 1988)
• Carlos Solé, 1991. (what prestige and status
the Argentine variety of Spanish had)
• 1) Rate their forms of Spanish against other
• 2) language in terms of their own identity
• 59% - consider the Argentine dialect to be
‘mal español’
• 48% believe that Spanish is spoken better
outside of Argentina
Value given to the speech variety of
Buenos Aires as opposed to other
varieties of Spanish
• Although the status of the language is
not perceived to be too high compared
with that of Peninsula Spanish Solé’s
study shows that the Argentine variety
of Spanish is very important in
expressing their identity
• 83% of the population consider it to be a
marker of national identity.
• B.A. grew to be the second largest city
in the western hemisphere and the
social and cultural focal point for much
of South America.
• Rural dialects “have a greater tendency
to represent poorer, less educated and
less mobile populations.” (Mar-Molinero
The use of voseo
• Stigmatized in the late C19th after it fell
out of use in Spain
• Nowadays although overt (pronominal)
voseo is stigmatized some studies show
an increasing acceptance of verbal
• Authentic/overt Voseo was not
completely eradicated – class
• Voseo was “becoming more accepted by younger
speakers while becoming less of a target of
stigmatization by older speakers of the upper class”
• 3 reasons
1)Dissolution of hierarchy
2)Young desire to break from linguistic pattern of
their parents
3)Increacing importance of schools/universities to
spread the form.
Torrejón looks at Brown and Gilmans (1960) criteria of
solidarity and equality and states that the forms of
address are becoming “more simplified and
Bishop and Michnowicz results
• Usted used by and large to pan-Hispanic norms
(i.e. power differentials)
• But – informal pronouns generally used more
• Tuteo reported more than verbal voseo
• General avoidance of voseo with strangers and
• V-Shaped distribution of voseo across age and
social class groups
• Cross tabulation of age and social status show
the adoption of voseo by the professional class
to be a recent phenomenon
B+M’s data confirms Torrejón’s informal
• Verbal voseo most prevalent among the
• Sharp divide between older speakers
• However, a possible stigmatization of
verbal voseo could lead to less reported
frequency on the linguistic survey
• “Although verbal voseo remains a
stigmatized form in Chile, it is less
stigmatized among men, young speakers
and working class and professional class
speakers” (B+M pp.426)
Labov 1966 – ‘Covert
• “Use of a stigmatized nonstandard
variety by a specific group to indicate
solidarity or identification with that
• - negative image of the use of verbal
voseo but it is preserved as part of the
Chilean linguistic trait – way to signal
group identity.
• Bishop. K & Michnowicz. J, Forms of
Address in Chilean Spanish, Hispania
Vol.93, Number 3, September 2010,
pp.413-429. John Hopkins University
• Mar-Molinero. C, The Spanish Speaking
World: a practical introduction to
Sociolinguistics. (containing information
on Carlos Solé’s study)
• Lipski, Latin American Spanish

Argentina and Chile - University of Birmingham