Home > Language > Quiero hablar italiano, no español!

Quiero hablar italiano, no español!

All my life I have wanted to learn to speak Italian but never found the time to dedicate to it. So, I was thrilled to learn that up to 60% of the Argentine population has descended from Italian ancestry. The Spanish spoken in Argentina has been influenced by Italian language too. In the past few weeks whilst planning to go to Argentina, I lied to myself that I will learn Italian over there. 

Recently I decided to test out my (made up) hypothesis that people in Buenos Aires speak Italian, by googling this. What I found out was that the portenos speak a very local dialect called Rioplatense (literally from the Rio Plate area). Rioplatense is really based on castillian but influenced heavily by all sorts of Europeans, mainly Italians. This dialect is unlike any other dialects in the Spanish speaking world because the intonation used is distinctly Italian. The only reason Italian is not the Argentine national language despite mass immigration of Italians in the late 19th century, is because at that time Italians spoke their own local dialects. It’s only more recently that Italians speak in what we now know the language to be – unified Italian. Rioplatense also borrowed words from the native Indians and the word gaucho is a good example!

I guess learning Italian will not really help me in Buenos Aires. So, here I am listening to my Spanish podcasts instead of learning Italian. E la vita!

  1. October 27, 2010 at 09:17

    Just been reading about Gotan Project, a band I really like and realised that their name is a play on words – Tango Project. The play on words is where the first and second syllables of a word are swapped which is called ‘vesre’ in Rioplatense which in itself is a swap because ‘reves’ means reverse in Spanish!

  2. Hywel Davies
    October 27, 2010 at 16:23

    This is way better than Craig’s blog

  3. Liisa
    October 28, 2010 at 12:59

    So exciting! Are you shopped and packed yet?
    Love Gotan Project, Christian gave me their CD years ago when we used to go tango dancing upstairs from a grotty pub in Camberwell, still listen to it.
    Can’t wait to hear all the news from travels
    L x

    • October 28, 2010 at 13:45

      Hello! Lovely to hear from you. Hope Ali’s party went well. Are there any photos? Sorry couldn’t make it!

  4. November 8, 2010 at 01:09

    Most Porteños use many LUNFARDO words. These words were taken from Italian and combined with castellano. Tango lyrics are filled with Lunfardo. For example beer in italian is birra-many Porteños say birra when talking about liter of beer.

    • November 8, 2010 at 12:00

      Thanks. It’s likely to be a pretty unique dialect I reckon!

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