Rio Platense

Apparently, I have a Spanish accent… Not all the time (that would be odd), but when I am speaking Spanish.

Now this assertion can only have been made outside of Spain, because there are a good few folk in Spain who might want to disagree; but that’s another story…

I have been told about my accent a few times over the last week – and you may have worked out from other posts that I am currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The reason they think I have a Spanish accent is because they do not; the local version of Spanish is called Rio Platense and seems to be very local to Buenos Aires, it contains verbal quirks that apparently are not even shared with the rest of Argentina (I will find out later if this part is true).

One of the changes you notice first is the introduction of the sound ‘xsho’ instead of the Castillian ‘ll’; so calle (ca’ye = street) becomes cache, pollo (po’yo = chicken) becomes pocho and so on.
There are others in this vein: yo (I) becomes xcho, but also some more fundamental changes: I have not heard anyone say buenos dias; its all buen dia – which is beginning to sound a bit like the Portuguese greeting.
The xsh sound is also Portuguese, so I think we can see what is beginning to happen here; its all merging, and in a way that is not happening in Spain and Portugal – in fact Spain is having the opposite effect – with the rise of local languages.

English has had these changes for years, and if anything has been even more corrupted; simply because for many English speakers it is not their first language. I don’t think this corruption is a bad thing; languages are living things, change is what keeps them alive, but this is the first time I have really experienced this degree of variation in a language that is not my native tongue.

There are some other Spanish words that change as you cross the Atlantic; in much the same way that the North American use of the word fanny can cause hilarity with a UK audience, the Spanish verb coger can cause offence in South America; in Spain it means ‘to catch’ as in catch a train, catch a taxi etc; in South America it means fuck…

One explanation for this change of usage comes from the days of the Conquistadors. The Conquistadors used the word when they were catching the native population, the native population had a different view of the proceedings.


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