Yes, Argentine spanish is polite...

#1
A poster on the smoking ban topic questioned my view that argentine spanish is polite. i thought i´d open up another topic to discuss this. this is my response to what he wrote.
Yes, i speak pretty much fluent Spanish, and can switch between
Chilean and Argentine intonation and pronunciation when i need to as
well (despite having an english accent at the same time...). I've learnt my spanish in a few different countries and so am able to compare differences in the way they speak in ecuador and chile or argentina and peru for example.
Argentine
Spanish is the politest Spanish around. Argentines are famous in Latin
America for being over the top polite and not nearly as direct when
talking as most other Spanish speakers. My chilean girlfriend sometimes
gets exasperated by the amount of time it takes an Argentine to ask the
time. "Disculpáme, serias tan amable de decirme la hora por favor¨she
was asked the other day. ¨Why can´t they just ask what they want
instead of going round in circles for so long? I had to stop in the
street and just missed my bus due to the time it took her to ask me
that ´, she asked me when she got home...in Chile, Peru and Ecuador
you´d simply ask ¨¿Tienes la hora?¨, no please, no conditional tense. Direct and to the point. Not necessarily rude but also not as polite as the way an Argentine would often ask.
When you walk into a shop
here, you are invariably greeted by a ´Buen dia´, ´Buenas tardes´,
´Como estas´or ´Que tal´ and then by ¿Én que te puedo ayudar? Cualquier
cosa, me avisás, ok? When you get into a lift, it´s common to say ´Buen dia/buenas tardes and hasta luego on leaving.When someone knocks you in the street, most of the time they'll apologise. I Santiago and Lima it's pretty much a sport to see how many people you can knock over when walking around and a 'sorry' will never be uttered. These
are forms of politeness (expressions, not just usted) that are simply
not used in many other Spanish speaking countries. It certainly doesn´t
happen in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and much of Spain.Usted
is not the be all and end all of being polite. Using usted does not
mean, de facto, that you are being polite. In fact, many spanish speakers only use
usted when they are angry and are insulting the other person. In parts
of many countries, usted is used unilaterally instead of ´tu. friends,
family members, everyone is addressed as usted. In most of spain, usted
is used only in the most formal of occassions.The argentine use
of expressions and phrases to be polite rather echoes british english.
british english is less direct than US english. that doesn´t mean that
americans are being rude when they talk, just that to the british
they´re more direct which is something we´re not used to in england. In
the same way, chileans are sometimes seen as being rude here in argentina due to
the directness of their speech. They´re not being rude, they´re just
speaking in the way they´re used to but to argentines that way of
speaking is too direct and to them, rude. Many non-spanish
speakers and spanish learners think argentines are rude and blunt
because they haven´t experienced spanish in other countries. Spanish is
a more direct language than english and that can take some getting used to for
native english speakers. Not always needing to say ´please´ all the time is one
thing that often confuses many learners.Anyway, i thought i´d respond
to the poster´s comment. I´ve heard so many expats complaining about
how rude argentines and porteños in particular are and it is simply not
true. it´s one part of the argentine culture that i, as a nice polite
english boy, really appreciate. Visit santiago, lima, la paz or quito
and you´ll understand.
 
#2
I agree with your comments about basic courtesy. You did not comment, however, on my remark that Argentine Spanish is full of expletives and vulgaritries. The kind of crude speech that is now commonly heard here used to be limited to the uneducated, thus the astonishment of my friend who had been away for a decade and came back to hear words and expressions from the mouths of "educated" people who had never talked that way before. As for American/British speech I believe you generalise too much. I have met many Britons who are quite brusque in their speech and often very coarse. I've also met many Americans who are subtle, articulate and highly courteous. It would seem to have something to do with education and cultural background. Not all Americans are alike any more than all Britons are alike. As regards "usted", I know a number of elderly Argentines who are very annoyed at the decline of formality in Argentina. They expect to be addressed with respect and that means being addressed with "usted" when spoken to by people who are family or friends.
 
#3
Language and society grows and changes. I'm sure there were people annoyed about the loss of 'thee' and 'thou' in English but that's what happens. Words become out-dated and defunct and ways of talking change. My mother swears more than my grandmother did and i swear more than my mother. Does that mean i'm rude, coarse or vulgar? To people of my own age, no. To older people, possibly. Language is a living thing that changes with time and most people adapt along with it.
I don't find Argentine Spanish to be any more littered with expletives than any other form of Spanish. I do find that Argentine Spanish has a more colourful and wider range of vocabularly and expressions than most other forms (except Chilean Spanish which is a law unto itself) but i don't think that they're actually used more regularly than the more limited ranges of other Spanish speakers. Also, people not using 'usted' to the same extent as before doesn't make Argentines rude. It's a natural progression of the language and as your friend has been away during that progression the change has come as a shock. As i mentioned before, 'usted' in Spain is almost obsolete in many parts of the country in the spoken form of the language. 20 years ago i'd hazard a bet it was far more common. it doesn't mean the person is being discourteous, it's just his normal, modern way of speaking.
As for the UK/US english generalisations. Yes they're generalisations but it's generally true that uk english is more long winded and polite and english people are more attuned to the difference in politeness in saying, for example, 'would', 'could' and 'can' . I've worked with US english teachers in England (teaching foreigners english) who just didn't understand why the uk text books we were using put so much emphasis on the tiny differences in meaning between certain phrases relating to manners and politeness. Witness any nunmber of US comedies poking fun at the stuffy, polite english 'guest'. the most recent one that comes to mind is "Friends" when ross gets married in england and phoebe has to talk to the mother in-law, please, please, please, please, please.we could spend hours debating the relative merits of being polite in 2006 and being polite in 1950 but times change. remember, it was once the height of scandal for a lady to show her ankles...
 
#4
"realba" said:
As for the UK/US english generalisations. Yes they're generalisations but it's generally true that uk english is more long winded and polite and english people are more attuned to the difference in politeness in saying, for example, 'would', 'could' and 'can' . I've worked with US english teachers in England (teaching foreigners english) who just didn't understand why the uk text books we were using put so much emphasis on the tiny differences in meaning between certain phrases relating to manners and politeness. Witness any nunmber of US comedies poking fun at the stuffy, polite english 'guest'. the most recent one that comes to mind is "Friends" when ross gets married in england and phoebe has to talk to the mother in-law, please, please, please, please, please.
The late Enoch Powell once said that only the English could really speak English and maybe he had a point. Educated Englishmen employ the English language with a subtlety and nuance that no-one else can match. The Americans tend to use the langauge a bit more literally. My old English teacher used to point out the difference in the following manner: an English writer would tend to write, "He had good leg," whereas an American writer would tend to write, "He had good legs." I also contend -- among other things -- that the English tend to use more idioms and phrasal verbs than their cousins across the pond, and this makes for comparative richness of expression.
 
#5
American TV comedies poking fun at the British invariably try to imitate a type of old fashioned Oxbridge accent that has become passe in today's multi-racial, multi-cultural Britain. It's a kind of broad humor that plays well to the masses and to stereotypes. At the same time, British TV does much the same by exaggerating American nasal accents and portraying Americans as uncultured. I don't believe that anecdotal examples of Americans who do not know the subleties of their own language prove any point. The rich history of American literature speaks for itself.
 
#6
there's no reason to be defensive. No one's attacking Americans or american literature but merely stating that there are differences between british english and american english. americans are extremely well known as being more direct than the english when speaking. the comedy stereotypes simply exagerate an undeniable fact. it doesn't mean that americans are being deliberately rude or obnoxious, it's just a different way of using the english language.
 
#7
I wasn't being defensive; I was disputing your suggestions that Americans lack linguistic subtlety. Americans are no more a monolithic group than are the British. It is very hard to stereotype the British nowadays. The UK is a multi-cultural, multi-racial nation. As you pointed out, we are not living in the 1950's. The attitudes and values that prevailed in the UK half a century ago have changed. The British were easier to satirize when they were more traditionally "British" (i.e. white Anglo-Saxon Protestant).
 
#8
Horacew2006 is the only 1 who seems to know a little bit abt Argentine Spanish.
He is right: Argentine Spanish is full of expletives, crude speech, vulgarities, and lots of ---nonsense--- screaming and yelling!!!. Just turn on local TV.
I am a native Spanish-speaker, so I know what I am talking abt.
Cheers!
 
#10
Listen this is a joke by someone that argentine spanish is polite. If you call using more swear words per sentence than greeks italians cockneys polite then it is.
But saying that portenos never mean malice with their swear words it is 99 percent of time a term of endearment that to a foreigners ears sounds offensive but in reality it is not