Argentine words and their meaning

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Argentine words

Brief history of Argentine words

Have you ever heard of Lunfardo? Many Argentine words come from it.

Lunfardo is a type of popular speech that emerged in Argentina and Uruguay at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in the port areas of the Río de la Plata. It contains contributions by different immigrant populations, especially Italian, and words of indigenous, African, and Gaucho origin, which already existed in Argentina.  The most closed Lunfardo began as a prison language used by inmates so that the guards would not understand them, and it spread among immigrants and the lower class of Buenos Aires. Lunfardo is characterized by its peculiar vocabulary and its use of metaphors and metonymies. According to figures published by the Argentine Ministry of Culture in 2017,  there are about six thousand Lunfardo terms and approximately 70 new words are added every year. Actually, these are dynamic figures since new terms are added while others fall into disuse. Lunfardo Day is celebrated on September 5.

Argentine phrases and words

Argentina is a nation with a strong Spanish and Italian cultural influence. Argentines are known for their ability to socialize and adapt to any society. The Spanish language in Argentina develops in a particular way, with curious and peculiar expressions. Here are 10 Argentine expressions with their meaning, but you can find many more in this Lunfardo Dictionary.

  • Che: this word is used colloquially to refer to a person. It is similar to “amigo” in other Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Boludo/a: it is a very common expression in Argentina and is used in colloquial registers to address someone or, on many occasions, to insult them.
  • Guacho/a: used to refer to someone in a derogatory way, with the meaning of orphan or illegitimate child.
  • Laburar: means “to work.” It is a word widely used in Argentina to refer to labor activity. It comes from the Italian “lavoro.”
  • Chamullar: is the act of seducing or trying to persuade someone through words. It comes from Caló.
  • Guita: refers to money. It is a word widely used in Argentina to talk about money in general. It comes from Spanish.
  • Pibe/a: is a colloquial way of referring to a child or young person. It is similar to “chico/a” in other Spanish-speaking countries. It comes from Italian.
  • Morfar: means “to eat.” It is a word widely used in Argentina to refer to the action of ingesting food. It also comes from Italian.
  • Birra: is a colloquial way of referring to beer. It is similar to “cerveza” in other Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Fiaca: Refers to laziness or lack of energy. It is a word widely used in Argentina to describe the feeling of not wanting to do anything.

These are just some of the many Argentine expressions that you can find in the Lunfardo Dictionary. Each of them has its particular meaning and context, which makes them unique and characteristic of the Argentine language.

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Characteristics of Argentine words

Rioplatense Spanish is the language spoken in Argentina, which is very similar to the Spanish spoken in Uruguay, with words and intonation specific to the country. Argentine words are considered some of the most specific words in the Spanish language.  

Lunfardo, on the other hand, is a fundamental component of the Argentine language. This slang has been incorporated into popular culture and is used in different fields, such as tango and theater. Lunfardo has enriched the Argentine vocabulary and has given rise to unique and amusing expressions.

As mentioned before, Argentine words also reflect the influence of the different migratory currents that arrived in the country, especially Italian immigration. Many words and expressions have Italian roots and are part of the everyday vocabulary of Argentines.

In short, the Argentine words that make up Lunfardo are the result of a combination of cultural and linguistic influences. Knowing these words and their meaning will allow you to immerse yourself in the richness and diversity of Argentine Spanish.

We hope this article has helped you learn more about the unique language of Argentina. Feel free to share it with your friends and enrich your vocabulary with these interesting Argentine words and expressions.

At iDISC, a translation company, we specialize in providing professional translation services that allow you to communicate effectively in any language. Feel free to contact us for more information about our translation services and how we can help you break down language barriers.

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