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Argentine Spanish and 7 typical Argentine words

Tuesday November 05, 2013 - Posted by to Latin American Culture & Food
Living and experiencing argentine

Argentine Spanish and 7 typical Argentine words

As I studied Spanish in Spain for almost a year before my stay in Buenos Aires, I speak Spanish with a “Spanish” accent.

When choosing where to do my internship, I chose Argentina. I had always been curious about the Argentine culture and I would be immersed in good, clear and slow Spanish, that’s what I thought. The moment I arrived in Buenos Aires, I realized how wrong I was! I arrived to a country with a totally different “Spanish”, not clear, good and slow at all! As a way of surviving and out of interested – I started to analyze the Argentine Spanish most Argentine people are so proud off. And now I love it too!

One of the major causes of the different Spanish is the history of the country: except for the Spanish immigrants, in Argentina mainly Italian immigrants arrived, millions of them. And all those immigrants created their own “Spanish”, a kind of “Spatalian”. That’s how the Spanish language of the conquistadores was turned into that new language, with that typical ‘Argentine sound’.

Buenos Aires is a great destination to learn Spanish . Please do not be worried about not learning ‘the correct Spanish’, as you will!

But the pronunciation is slightly different in Buenos Aires and there are many typical Argentine words that will enrich your  Spanish Langauge Immersion experience only more!


Learn spanish in Buenos Aires


Here’s a short list of the most interesting words I have heard while learning Spanish in Buenos Aires:


    1. ‘ll’ as ‘sh’
      Argentineans have a very noticeable ‘sh’ pronunciation of the ‘ll’ and the ‘y’ sound, different from the pronunciations of other Latin Americans and Spaniards.  For example ‘Yo me llamo’; will be pronounced as: ‘Sho me Shamo’.


    1. Tu? Vos! Vosotros? Ustedes!
      You can forget the whole ‘vosotros sois’ verb conjugation because it becomes ‘ustedes son‘ all over South America. But on top of that, the Argentines converted ‘tu’ into ‘vos’! And because of the pronunciation, this ‘vos’ will also change some verb conjugations. So if you were used to ‘tu eres’, just forget about that. Here in Buenos Aires we say: ‘vos sos’.


    1. Slang
      While living in Buenos Aires, I’ve heard a whole lot of Spanish that I never learned in my Spanish class or during my year in Spain before; many words are not in my dictionary! Argentine Spanish is loaded with slang that will take you probably years to understand and speak it. The slang in Buenos Aires is called ‘’lunfardo’ and this is – again! – another language.
      One example of ‘common slang’: when you learned Spanish elsewhere (anywhere except in Argentina) you probably use the word coger, meaning: to grab, take or pick up. It is a frequently used word, but in Argentina it’s not. Be aware because “coger” in Argentina means: to have sex! When I just arrived in Buenos Aires I wanted to “coger” a train, but when they started laughing, I just realized I just experienced a very embarrassing moment… So, a useful tip: always use “tomar”, that’s safer.



Tango - Bueno Aires



    1. Listo, claro, dale
      Argentinean people constantly use the word “sí” as in “yes, indeed, ok” and if that weren’t enough: you’ll constantly hear the words instead of or next to that ‘si’: “claro“, “listo“, “dale”, finally all meaning: “si”.


    1. Che!
      The nickname of the famous Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Guevara is “el Che” because the word “che” is constantly used by Argentine people to attract attention and I have no doubts that Ernesto Guevara must have used it a million times before he ended up being called ‘el Che”.
      According to my Argentine friends you use “Che, vos!”, when you want to say: “hey you!” or “hey’. But more than that, I have the feeling that 85% of all phrases spoken by Argentine people, start with “che”, regardless of what the phrase is really about.


    1. Scold in a affective way
      You will probably be slightly shocked when someone calls you “hey, asshole”, or “hey, piece of shit”, without any particular reason. But depending on the context, this is quite normal in Argentina. Often used is the word ‘boludo’ (male) and ‘boluda’ (female). Another word you’ll hear very often when talking to Argentines is ‘negro’ (black). And there are almost no black people in Buenos Aires. So just so you know: in Buenos Aires also you can be “negro”’!



Living and experiencing Argentina



    1. Exaggerate
      Everything is very, very beautiful in Argentina: a person, a situation, a plan, a street, a building…. … You will constantly hear ‘!Que lindo!’. If you end up using it yourself, remember to stretch the ‘i’. “Que liiiiiiiiiiindo!!!


One last comment about my internship in Buenos Aires.

Living and experiencing Argentina is a totally different experience for a woman than for a man. Especially as a foreign girl or “extranjera”, local people will treat as if you were if you were a famous person. Believe me, being out at the nightclub Porteños – as the native people of Buenos Aires are called – will tell you endless times how beautiful you are and you might even be asked to marry a few of them during Spanish course in Buenos Aires. Really nice, those Argentine men. And, very good in exaggerating.


Learn more about our Spanish courses in Argentina.

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4 thoughts on “Argentine Spanish and 7 typical Argentine words

  1. Marcus

    I studied Spanish in Argentina a few years ago and this is all very true. However, I did not speak any word of Spanish when I arrived so I could not – and still cannot – compare very well. Thanks!


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