Argentinian Shpanish

Argentinian Spanish is to Spanish what Irish English is to English: thickly and endearingly accented with an unmatched musicality. And depending on the thickness of the accent it ranges from nice to listen to to marginally comprehensible.

In Argentina double ls and ys are pronounced like “sh”. Elsewhere they sound as “ya” or “ja”. The effect is a slightly slippery sound when Argentinians speak that could easily be misinterpreted as they trying to get everyone to settle down and be quiet: “sh, sh, sh…”.

True to the Italian heritage of many, if not most Argentinians, the accent has taken on the sing-song syncopated cadence of Italian. That’s the lyrical, musical bit.

Argentinians also do some funny stuff with grammar. Most Spanish speakers say for the informal form of you whereas Argentinians say vos. They also change the matching conjugation, maybe, we hypothesise, so the emphasis better matches that classic Italian cadence. These changes aren’t just slang, or informal, they’re also written in formal Argentinian Spanish. I can’t think of an example where there is such a significant and formal deviation in English. Americanised spelling pales in comparison.

Variation in Spanish

Much to my initial frustration when leaving Colombia, Spanish varies considerably more between regions than English. The vocab changes noticeably. It’s similar to how we say rubbish in New Zealand and in the US they tend to say trash but the variation is much more pronounced. And while Argentinian Spanish is probably the most marked accent differentiation, there are plenty of others too. What amounts is a language that is definitely mutually intelligible, but, to a learner, feels like a constantly changing and evolving thing.

Still, if I had to pick an accent to take on, it would totally be Argentinian – sho shamo Jose, vamos a la plasha.

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