As you know Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world used by approximately 475 million people which makes it second only to Mandarin Chinese, in terms of native speakers. Nevertheless, each country usually has its particular differences, expressions, idioms, and linguistic loans. In this article, we are going to focus on a linguistic variety used in a large part of Argentina and all of Uruguay called Rioplatense Spanish. Nevertheless, it is not the only one spoken in the country.
So what differentiates Rioplatense Spanish from other varieties of Spanish?
1.- It is the most prominent dialect to employ voseo in both speech and writing
The most characteristic phenomenon of Rioplatense Spanish is the use of a special form for the second person singular, which especially alters the conjugation in the present. So instead of tú; you, we use vos (another equivalent for “you” singular in English). This form is used in many places in Latin America but Argentina is the one that uses it the most both in speech and writing.
2.- "Vesre": Words spoken backward
Another interesting characteristic of Rioplatense Spanish is that the order of the syllables or letters of some specific words is changed without altering the meaning. The changes can be small or large, sometimes making it extremely difficult to recognize the original word. This phenomenon is known as the "vesre" (reves which means backward by changing the order of the syllables). Here we share some common examples:
garpar (pagar) (to pay)
lleca (calle) (street)
ñoba (baño) (bathroom)
telo (hotel) (motel)
jermu (mujer) (woman)
jebru (bruja) (witch)
3.- The famous “sh” :Yeísmo Rehilado
The double LL and the Y with consonants are pronounced as “sh” as in the word “show”. This varies quite a lot as in most of the places where Spanish is spoken, native users pronounce it differently. The difference is that the air, instead of going out through the sides, does so through the central area of the tongue.
4.-Words that are used but have other meanings in other spanish speaking countries
bife: It’s used as a synonym of bife but also in our slang we say “dar un bife” or “estar a los bifes” which here means “to slap”.
Una piña: in many countries it means pineapple but we use it as punch. We say “dar una piña”; to push someone or “comerse una piña”; be punched by someone.
Chorro: literally means Waterjet but we use it as a synonym for “thief” or “robber”.
Un mango: Literally is the fruit but we use it as a synonym for money. For example no tengo un mango; I don’t have money.
Una banda: Literally means a band, but we use it as a synonym of lot or a lot . For example: Tengo una banda de sueño; I am really sleepy.
Mina: Means literally Mine but we use it as a synonym of woman, e.g. ¡Qué linda mina!; what a beautiful woman!
5.-More than Italian influence
Due to the massive immigration of Italians towards Argentina in the last century many ‘’Italianisms’’ have been incorporated into the local slang called Lunfardo. One characteristic example is the word “laburo” from the Italian word “lavoro” which means 'work'.
Despite the fact that the European settlements decimated Native American populations before 1810, and also during the expansion into Patagonia (after 1870), the interaction between Spanish and several of the native languages has left visible traces. Words from Guarani, Quechua and others were incorporated into the local form of Spanish and even from neighboring countries, especially Brazilian Portuguese. Incorporations of other languages, especially European, including French and English have also taken place. To sum up, lunfardo incorporates a large number of components into its lexicon.
6.-Duplication of the direct object
In Rioplatense Spanish, the direct object may appear accompanied by the corresponding unstressed personal pronouns (lo, la, los, las) in cases that are not allowed in other variants, as in "Lo vimos a Carlos; We saw Carlos" or "La encontraste a Marcela?; Did you find Marcela?" However, not all practitioners of this variety use this form.
7.- Preferential use of specific tenses
In this variation the native speakers prefer to use the preterito indefinido (similar to past simple) e.g. canté; I sang, over and the pretérito perfecto compuesto (similar to present perfect) e.g. he cantado;I have sung , to refer to past actions. This does not mean that we exclusively use only one of them but there is a preferential inclination towards the first.
Also in terms of grammatical tenses we prefer the futuro perifrastico; periphrastic future e.g. voy a cantar; I'm going to sing over the simple future e.g. cantaré; I'll sing.
8.- Aspiration or fall of the S and strongly rhythmic intonation pattern:
When there is an ‘S’ at the end of a word and a consonant in the next, the sound of the ‘S’ is smoothened. In the case that the word that follows is a vowel, the S is connected to the following vowel as if it was the same word. Furthermore, particularly marked in Buenos Aires, there is a strongly rhythmic intonation pattern thanks to the frequent elision of vowels in diphthongs.
To sum up every linguistic variety of a language has its own characteristic features and Rioplatense Spanish is not an exception. The famous ‘sh’, revered words, contracted words, metaphoric uses are only a part of the numerous phenomena that make our variety so unique and beautiful, enriching the Spanish language as all of its varieties do! So, what´s your favorite variety in Spanish? Which one is the most beautiful for you? What do you think about the differences between this variety and some others?