Learning Spanish Variations


Jul 11, 2006

Given that Argentinian Spanish is a bit different than other forms of the language, and that instruction in the Argentinian version isn't widely available, what would be acceptable or unacceptable alternatives? Would standard Mexican Spanish be more accepted in Argentina than Castilan form Spain? I have access to tutors who speak both Mexican and Castilian Spanish. What would you suggest?


Thanks for all the information, nashorama. Argentina is one of the only Latin American countries I have any interest in visiting. I also might like to visit Chile as well as Spain. I was just afraid European Spanish might be too different from what is spoken in Argentina. I knew someone from Argentina years ago who told me if I spoke European Spanish in BA, I would be "stoned" by the residents. I am not sure if he was joking.

Anyway, I want to make sure I go in with a working knowledge of the language and not have to spend too much time in a language school.

Thanks Again
What your Argentine friend was probably referring to (when mentioning a possible stoning) was the lisping of z and c sounds that occur in Spain. Most Latin Americans consider that to be "comical" and probably even more so if a non-native speaker was doing it and then mixing that with the accent from their home country. I think that if you learned Spanish or Castellano as spoken in Spain it would give you a base that would allow you to go wherever you want in the Latin American world and be confortable. You would learn the Vosotros forms which would actually give you an insight into the development of the "Vos" form as used here. I was watching a program on Cable about a month ago about a book fair in Spain. The topic of the show was that most people in Spain do not read Latin American writers. Most of the people at the fair were buying classics written by American and European writers which were translated into Iberian Spanish. When asked why many of them answered that "Latin Americans don't know how to speak Spanish". They included Argentines in their list of non-Spanish speakers and one lady said that she can't even understand the Spanish of Borges. I had my first immersion experience in Costa Rica and after explaining this to my Argentine teacher the first thing that came out of her mouth is that " Costa Ricans don't know how to speak Spanish." When I lived in New York city my Puerto Rican friends would always tell me that Dominicans and Cubans don't know how to speak Spanish. I was at a jazz club called Thelonius Bar the other night and I met this girl from Puerto Rico. She was talking about how she was having a great time here in Buenos Aires and how comfortable it was for her to be here because she already knows Spanish. About 15 minutes later the waiter comes over to take her order and he can't understand a word she's saying. These experiences have lead me to realize that I just need to do my best to learn what I can learn with the understanding that there is no "right way" and that the learning will never stop.


Seriously, don't bother learning Spanish from Spain if you're planning on spending most of your time in south america. The 'lisping' will get you laughed at and you'll also have to learn a whole extra part of every verb-the 'vosotros' form and all that goes with it. Stick to the mexican teacher and then let the argentine variation slowly take over if you spend a lot of time here. Personally i think you're way better off learning 'south american' spanish (that is, no lisping and 'ustedes' instead of 'vosotros') as it's a much easier form to learn because a) there's less to learn and b) the accent and pronunciation is easier. Argentines will never mock the way somebody speaks from another latin american country (although there might be occasional mis-understandings because of the same words having different meanings in other countries or common slang terms not being the same all over) but they will happily mock a spaniard. The phrase "todos los gallegos son una mierda' is also something you will most likely hear quite often, especially from argentines who work for a spanish owned company like aerolineas argentinas or telefonica.

Then again, it depends where you're from- if you're from the UK or ireland then when you return home you're more likely to speak spanish with spaniards, in which case they'll laugh at you for speaking like one of those primitive immigrants who are ruining their country and stealing their jobs. If you from the US you'll probably never speak spanish with a spaniard.
Yes, but 'vos' is used as a replacement for the singular 'tu' not for the plural 'vosotros'. So if you learn spanish spanish you'll have to learn the 'vosotros' (pretty much redundant in all of latin america) and then also the 'vos' forms. 2 extra conjugations instead of merely slowly replacing your tuteo with a voseo. and if you travel outside of argentina it's best to tuteo anyway as something that's guaranteed to get a laugh (trust me) is speaking argentine spanish with a foreign accent in chile, peru etc.
Although dropthezero is partially correct, (Porteños use vos in place of tu), his enthusiasm is a bit off. It's obvious he did not attend primary school in Argentina. The core grammar of Spanish has not changed in more than 400 years. Even though a 5 year-old Argentine intuitively knows to use vos instead of tu, he is still taught all six forms of verb formation in school because, despite what many think, Argentina is not culturally cut off from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. Cervantes' famous work is still a mainstay in Argentine education as well as books by countless non Argentine authors. The stacks of books by non-Spanish authors found in bookstores and libraries have been translated into standard Spanish, not "lunfardo." Even La Nación and Clarín, the two main BsAs papers, publish in grammatically formal Spanish, voseo be damned. Therefore, if a 5 year-old Argentine has to learn to recognize all six verbal conjugations, it may be a good idea that you also learn them; if for nothing else, to distinguish between the written and spoken language. Then you'll be able to move about in most Spanish-speaking societies accomodating local regionalisms without depending upon expats from English-speaking countries giving you unneccesary advice and possibly pretending they have less of a gringo accent than you. However, here in Argentina you will not have a "gringo" accent but a "shankee" accent; even if you are from the United Kingdom.
Once you arrive in Buenos Aires it won't take you long to recognize and mimic the local dialect. For example, when I call my family in Méxcio, D.F. my mother always prefaces our conversations with "¿Qué pasó tu castellano?" as a reminder to speak correctly, the way as I was raised.
And that's don midlifebear to the rest of you