Languages of Argentina

Languages of Argentina

The spoken languages of Argentina number at least 40 although Spanish is dominant. Others include native and other immigrant languages; two languages are extinct and others are endangered, spoken by elderly people whose descendants do not speak the languages.Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. [ Online version: Languages of Argentina,] Retrieved on 2007-01-02.]

More than one million speakers


Argentina is predominantly a Spanish-speaking country with 33 million speakers—the fourth largest after Mexico, Spain, and Colombia.Fact|date=February 2007 Based on the 2001 census and 2006 population figures, there may be as many as 40 million Spanish language speakers.Fact|date=February 2007 Argentines pronounce Spanish, which they call "castellano", with a distinctive Italian accent—a legacy inherited from European immigration. Argentines are amongst the few Spanish-speaking countries (like El Salvador and Honduras) that universally use what known as "voseo"—the use of the pronoun "vos" instead of "tú" (the familiar "you"). The most prevalent dialect is "Rioplatense", whose speakers are located primarily in the basin of the Río de la Plata. A phonetic study conducted by the Laboratory for Sensory Investigations of CONICET and the University of TorontoFact|date=February 2007 showed that the accent of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires (known as "porteños") is closer to the Neapolitan dialect of Italian than any other spoken language. Italian immigration influenced "Lunfardo", the slang spoken in the Río de la Plata region, permeating the vernacular vocabulary of other regions as well.

The ISO639 code for Argentinian Spanish is "es-AR".


Argentina has more than 1,500,000 Italian speakers; this tongue is the second most spoken language in the nation. Italian immigration from the beginning of the 20th century made a lasting and significant impact on the pronunciation and vernacular of the nation's spoken Spanish, giving it an Italian flare. In fact, Italian has contributed so much to Rioplatense that many foreigners mistake it for Italian [Ethnologue [] ]


Standard German is spoken by between 400,000 and 500,000 [WorldLanguage [ website] . Retrieved on 2007-01-29] Argentines of German ancestry, though it has also been stated that the there could be as much as 1,800,000. [ [ "Rápida recuperación económica tras la grave crisis"] ] German today, is the third or fourth most spoken language in Argentina.

Levantine Arabic

There are sources of around one million Levantine Arabic speakers in Argentina, as a result of immigration from the Middle East, mostly from Israel, Palestine and Lebanon.

More than 100,000 speakers

South Bolivian Quechua is a Quechuan language spoken by some 800,000 peoples. [ website] . There are 70,000 estimated speakers in Salta Province. The language is also known as Central Bolivian Quechua, which has six dialects. It is classified as a Quechua II language and is referred to as Quechua IIC by linguists.

Yiddish is Spoken by 200,000 people [WorldLanguage [ website] . Retrieved on 2007-01-29] and Mapudungun is spoken by 100,000 Mapuche people in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Buenos Aires, and La Pampa. [Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. [ Online version: Mapudungun,] Retrieved on 2007-01-02]

More than 1,000 speakers

Welsh language is spoken by over 35,000 people in the Chubut province. [Ethnologue [] ]

Chinese language is spoken by at least half of the over 60,000 chinese immigrants, mostly in Buenos Aires. [ [ Jóvenes Argenchinos] 22 September 2006]

Mocoví is spoken by 4,525 people in Santa Fé, while Mbyá Guaraní has 3,000 speakers in the northeast. Pilagá is spoken by about 2,000 people in the Chaco. There are 1,500 Iyo'wujwa Chorote speakers, 50% of whom are monolingual; Iyo'wujwa Chorote is spoken in the Chaco region and along the Pilcomayo river. [Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. [ Online version: Chorote, Iyo'wujwa,] Retrieved on 2007-01-02]

More than 100 speakers

Several native American languages spoken in Argentina by the native people (1% of the population) are declining at rates that may result in only a handful of speakers within a generation.Fact|date=February 2007 Kaiwá has 512 speakers, Nivaclé 200, Plautdietsch 140, Tapieté and Wichí Lhamtés Nocten only 100. These indigenous languages have suffered slow linguistic and cultural genocide.

Endangered languages

Some Argentine languages are critically endangered, spoken only by a handful of isolated elderly people whose children don't speak the language; they are likely to become dead languages once the remaining speakers die. Vilela has about 20 speakers; Puelche has 5 or 6 speakers; Tehuelche has 4 speakers as of the year 2000, out of about 200 ethnic Tehuelche people, (2000 W. Adelaar); and Selknam (also known as Ona) has 1 to 3 speakers (1991) and is nearly extinct; full blooded Ona people are already extinct.

Extinct languages

Abipón and Chané are now extinct languages that were spoken by people indigenous to Argentina before European contact; Chané was spoken in the Salta Province.

Cocoliche, a Spanish-Italian creole, was spoken mainly by first and second-generation immigrants from Italy, but is no longer in daily use; it is sometimes used in comedy. Some Cocoliche terms were adopted into Lunfardo slang.Fact|date=February 2007

Other languages

Catalan-Valencian-Balear, Turoyo, Ukrainian, and Vlax-Romani are all reportedly spoken, but the number of speakers are not known. Many Aymará speakers have migrated to Argentina for sugar mill and other work; of more than 2.2 million speakers globally, many are in Argentina. [Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. [ Online version: Aymara, Central,] Retrieved on 2007-01-02] There are Mandarin-, Cantonese-, Japanese-, Korean-, and Russian-speaking immigrant communities. Chiripá is also spoken. [Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. [ Online version: Chiripá,] Retrieved on 2007-01-02] There are also notable communities of Afrikaans speakers, who emigrated from South Africa during or after the Boer War.

See also

* List of indigenous languages in Argentina


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