Rioplatense Spanish

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Main urban centers of Rioplatense Spanish.

Rioplatense Spanish (Spanish: español rioplatense, although locally known as castellano rioplatense) is a dialectal variant (or simply, "a dialect")[1][2][3], of the Spanish language which is mainly spoken in the areas in and around the Río de la Plata basin (or River Plate region), between Argentina and Uruguay.[4] The usual word employed to name the Spanish language in this region is castellano (Castilian) and seldom español (Spanish) as in other parts of Latin America. The term español is only employed when talking to foreigners who may not be familiar with the local dialect.

Note that, while the article refers to Rioplatense Spanish as a single dialect, there are distinguishable differences among the varieties spoken in Argentina and in Uruguay, as described below.


[edit] Location

Rioplatense is mainly based in the cities of Buenos Aires, La Plata, Rosario (Argentina), and Montevideo (Uruguay), the four most populated cities in the dialectal area, along with their respective suburbs and the areas in between. This regional form of Spanish is also found in other areas, not geographically close but culturally influenced by those population centers (e.g., in parts of Paraguay). Rioplatense is the standard in audiovisual media in Argentina and Uruguay. To the northeast exists the hybrid Riverense Portuñol.

[edit] Influences on the language

The Spaniards brought their language to the area during the Spanish colonization in the region. Originally part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Río de la Plata basin had its status lifted to Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776.

Until the massive immigration to the region started in the 1870s, the language of the Río de la Plata had virtually no influence from other languages and varied mainly by the means of localisms. Argentines and Uruguayans often state that their populations, like those of the United States and Canada, comprise people of relatively recent European descent, the largest immigrant groups being those who came from Spain and Italy.

[edit] European immigration

Several languages influenced the criollo Spanish of the time, because of the diversity of settlers and immigrants to Argentina and Uruguay:

  • 1870–1890: mainly Spanish, Basque, Galician and Northern Italian speakers and some from France, Germany, and other European countries.
  • 1910–1945: Again from Spain, Southern Italy and in smaller numbers from across Europe; Jewish immigration, mainly from Russia and Poland from the 1910s until after World War II was also large.
  • English speakers, from Britain and Ireland, were not as great in numbers as the Italians but were influential in industry, business, education and agriculture. In the case of the English immigrants, they were certainly influential within the upper middle class.

[edit] Influence of indigenous populations in Argentina

Native American populations were decimated during the early settlement (before 1810), and also during the expansion into Patagonia (after 1870). However, 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 some have even reached English.

Some words of American origin commonly used in Rioplatense Spanish are:

  • From Quechua: gaucho (orig. wakcha "poor person"); pochoclo ("popcorn")
  • From Guarani: pororó (also "popcorn")
See Influences on the Spanish language for a more comprehensive review of borrowings into all dialects of Spanish.

[edit] Linguistic features

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

[edit] Vocabulary

Differences between dialects of Spanish are numerous; about 9,000 Rioplatense words[citation needed] are not used or, in many cases, even understood elsewhere. These include many terms from the basic vocabulary, such as words for fruits, garments, foodstuffs, car parts, etc., as well as local slang.

The vocabularies of both varieties are further diverging as Rioplatense Spanish tends to borrow (or calque) technical words from American English, while Peninsular Spanish tends to borrow or calque them from British English or French.

Selected vocabulary differences
Rioplatense Castilian Andalusian Mexican Chilean English (US/UK)
durazno melocotón melocotón durazno durazno peach
damasco albaricoque albaricoque chabacano damasco apricot
frutilla fresa fresa fresa frutilla strawberry
papa patata patata papa papa potato
poroto judía/alubia habichuelas frijol poroto bean
suéter / pulóver jersey jersey suéter chaleco / sweater sweater / pullover
moño moño pajarita moño humita bowtie
auto / coche coche carro coche auto car
celular móvil móvil celular celular cell phone / mobile
computadora ordenador ordenador computadora computador computer
baúl (del auto) maletero maletero cajuela maleta (del auto) (car) trunk / boot
valija maleta maleta maleta maleta luggage or suitcase
pollera falda falda falda pollera / falda skirt
ricota requesón requesón requesón ricota ricotta cheese
remera playera playera playera playera T-shirt

[edit] Phonology

Rioplatense Spanish distinguishes itself from other dialects of Spanish by the pronunciation of certain consonants.

  • Like many other dialects, Rioplatense features yeísmo: 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 and around Buenos Aires (called sheísmo) These are the sounds in English measure and mission, or the French j and ch, respectively. That is, in Rioplatense, se cayó "he fell down" is homophonous with se calló "he became silent".
  • The fricative /s/ has a tendency to become 'aspirated' before another consonant (the resulting sound depending on what the consonant is, although stating it's a voiceless glottal fricative, [h], would give a clear idea of the mechanism) or simply in all syllable-final positions in less educated speech. This change may be realized only at the word level or it may also cross word boundaries. That is, esto es lo mismo "this is the same" is pronounced something like ['ɛ 'ɛh lɔ 'mih.mɔ], but in las águilas azules "the blue eagles", /s/ in las and águilas might remain [s] as it's not followed by a consonant [las 'a.ɰi.las a.'su.lɛs], or become [h] (the exact pronunciation is largely an individual choice.)
  • 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.

Aspiration of s, together with loss of final r and some common instances of diphthong simplification, tend to produce a noticeable simplification of the syllable structure, giving Rioplatense a distinct fluid consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel rhythm:

Si querés irte, andate. Yo no te voy a parar.
"If you want to go then go. I'm not going to stop you."
siqueresirte_v1.ogg [si keˌɾɛʰ ˈite anˈdate - ʃo no te βoj a paˈɾa]

NOTE: In this example, not to pronounce the 'r' in "irte" and "parar" is considered less educated speech.

[edit] Intonation

Preliminary research has shown that Rioplatense Spanish, and particularly the speech of the city of Buenos Aires, has intonation patterns that resemble those of Italian dialects, and differ markedly from the patterns of other Argentine forms of Spanish.[5] This correlates well with immigration patterns. Argentina, and particularly Buenos Aires, had huge numbers of Italian settlers since the 19th century.

According to a study conducted by National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, and published in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (ISSN 1366-7289) [6], Buenos Aires residents speak with an intonation most closely resembling Neapolitan. The researchers note that this is relatively recent phenomenon, starting in the beginning of the 20th century with the main wave of Southern Italian immigration. Before that, the porteño accent was more similar to that of Spain, especially Andalusia.[7]

[edit] Pronouns and verb conjugation

One of the features of the Argentine and Uruguayan speaking style is the voseo: the usage of the pronoun vos for the second person singular, instead of . In other Spanish-speaking regions where voseo is used, it is typically considered a nonstandard lower-class sociolectic or regional variant; whereas in Argentina, voseo is standard. Vos is used with forms of the verb that resemble those of the second person plural (vosotros) in traditional (Spain's) Peninsular Spanish.

The second person plural pronoun, which is vosotros in Spain, is replaced with ustedes in Rioplatense, like most other Latin American dialects. While usted is the formal second person singular pronoun, its plural ustedes has a neutral connotation and can be used to address friends and acquaintances as well as in more formal occasions (see T-V distinction). Ustedes takes a grammatically third person plural verb.

As an example, see the conjugation table for the verb amar in the present tense, indicative mode:

Inflection of amar
Person/Number Peninsular Rioplatense
1st sing. yo amo yo amo
2nd sing. tú amas vos amás or tú amás¹
3rd sing. él ama él ama
1st plural nosotros amamos nosotros amamos
2nd plural vosotros amáis ²ustedes aman
3rd plural ellos aman ellos aman
(¹) Tú amás is only used in Uruguay, where it coexists with Vos amás. However, and vos are not interchangeably used, but rather vos denotes a more intimate relationship between the parties in conversation. In formal speech, usted ama.
(²) Ustedes is used throughout all of Latin America for both the familiar and formal. In Spain, it is used only in formal speech for the second person plural.

Although apparently there is just a stress shift (from amas to amás), the origin of such a stress is the loss of the diphthong of the ancient vos inflection from vos amáis to vos amás. This can be better seen with the verb "to be": from vos sois to vos sos. In vowel-alternating verbs like perder and morir, the stress shift also triggers a change of the vowel in the root:

Inflection of perder
Peninsular Rioplatense
yo pierdo yo pierdo
tú pierdes vos perdés or tú perdés
él pierde él pierde
nosotros perdemos nosotros perdemos
vosotros perdéis ustedes pierden
ellos pierden ellos pierden

For the -ir verbs, the Peninsular vosotros forms end in -ís, so there is no diphthong to simplify, and Rioplatense vos employs the same form: instead of tú vives, vos vivís; instead of tú vienes, vos venís (note the alternation).

Usage of the imperative in a Buenos Aires public-service announcement.

The imperative forms for vos are identical to the plural imperative forms in Peninsular minus the final -d (stress remains the same):

  • Hablá más fuerte, por favor. "Speak louder, please." (habla in Peninsular)
  • Comé un poco de torta. "Eat some cake." (come in Peninsular)
  • Vení para acá. "Come over here." (ven in Peninsular)

The plural imperative uses the ustedes form (i. e. the third person plural subjunctive, as corresponding to ellos).

As for the subjunctive forms of vos verbs, while they tend to take the conjugation, some speakers do use the classical vos conjugation, employing the vosotros form minus the i in the final diphthong. Many consider only the subjunctive forms to be correct.

  • Espero que veas or Espero que veás "I hope you can see" (Peninsular veáis)
  • Lo que quieras or (less used) Lo que querás "Whatever you want" (Peninsular queráis)

In the preterite tense, 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. However, it is often deemed incorrect.

Other verb forms coincide with after the i is omitted (the vos forms are the same as ).

  • Si salieras "If you went out" (Peninsular salierais)

[edit] Usage

In the old times, vos was used as a respectful term. In Rioplatense, as in most other dialects which employ voseo, this pronoun has become informal, shoving out the use of (compare you in English, which used to be formal singular but has replaced and obliterated the former informal singular pronoun thou). It is used especially for addressing friends and family members (regardless of age), but may also include most acquaintances, such as coworkers, friends of one's friends, etc.

[edit] Usage of tenses

Although literary works use the full spectrum of verb inflections, in Rioplatense (as well as many other Spanish dialects), the future tense has been replaced by a verbal phrase (periphrasis) in the spoken language.

This verb phrase is formed by the verb ir ("go") followed by the preposition a and the main verb in the infinitive. This is akin to the English phrase going to + infinitive verb. For example:

  • Creo que descansaré un pocoCreo que voy a descansar un poco
  • Mañana me visitará mi madreMañana me va a visitar mi madre
  • Iré a visitarla mañanaVoy a ir a visitarla mañana

The present perfect tense (Spanish: Pretérito perfecto compuesto), just like pretérito anterior, is rarely used, so it's replaced for simple past.

  • Juan no ha llegadoJuan no llegó todavía
  • El torneo ha comenzadoEl torneo comenzó

[edit] References

  1. ^ Orlando Alba, Zonificación dialectal del español en América ("Classification of the Spanish Language within Dialectal Zones in America"), in: César Hernández Alonso (ed.), "Historia presente del español de América", Pabecal: Junta de Castilla y León, 1992.
  2. ^ Jiří Černý, "Algunas observaciones sobre el español hablado en América" ("Some Observations about the Spanish Spoken in America"). Acta Universitatis Palackianae Olomucencis, Facultas Philosophica Philologica 74, pp. 39-48, 2002.
  3. ^ Alvar, Manuel, "Manual de dialectología hispánica. El español de América", ("Handbook of Hispanic Dialectology. Spanish Language in America."). Barcelona 1996.
  4. ^ Resnick, Melvyn: Phonological Variants and Dialects Identification in Latin American Spanish. The Hague 1975.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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