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Vamos a aprender!

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

This week saw us start Spanish school in Palermo – five weeks of Mon-Fri half days with homework! If it wasn’t for the fact that Craig started mooing at waitresses in a local parilla (see the entry for 6 January 2010 on the Rioplatense page), I may have thought we don’t need to learn the language.

The first few days have been intense to say the least memorising dozens of variants of personal pronouns and verb conjugations. Yesterday, a number of us in the class felt we were lagging behind and that perhaps the teacher was going too fast. Today, after presenting our homework, roleplays in the class and games with weird dice, everyone felt they had got past that sinking feeling.

Tomorrow is the last day of the week and for three of our class of six. The Dutch couple and the Norwegian lady are absorbing as much as their brain would allow them so they can practice their newfound tongue on their onward journeys. The rest of us three still have another four weeks to go! I wonder who will join us next week??

Quiero hablar italiano, no español!

October 26, 2010 7 comments

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!

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