Every language has its variations from region to region – English being perhaps one of the prime examples with vastly differing accents up and down the British Isles and indeed around the world. Spanish too, is spoken in many countries and, despite the work of the Royal Spanish Academy to standardise the language, it has its own variations from one country to the next. Nowhere are these differences more marked than in Argentina.
In a previous blog, we looked at the use of Vos in Argentina but there are other significant differences in the way Argentinians speak which set them apart from their Spanish counterparts and even their Latin American neighbours.
The most notable of these differences is the way the ‘y’ sound is pronounced. If you’ve taken a Spanish language course (or even if you haven’t!) you probably already know that usually this sounds like the English letter ‘e’. So the word yo (meaning ‘I’) sounds like ‘ee-oh’. The double L (as in paella or tortilla) also has the same sound in most Spanish-speaking countries. Not so in Argentina, where it has a ‘sh’ sound, so yo becomes ‘sho-oh’, lluvia (meaning rain) instead of the usual pronunciation of ‘ee-uh-via’ becomes ‘sh-uh-via’ and so on.
Argentinian Spanish lacks the lisp of mainland Spain, tends to be spoken at a faster pace and has lots of slang words. One of the most common you will hear is ‘Che’ (as in Guevara – so nicknamed because he was born in Argentina) which means something like ‘hey’, but there are lots of other words which are particular to Argentina. Want to order a beer? Don’t ask for cerveza but birra. If you intend to visit Argentina and practise your Spanish, listen carefully for the differences!