Several languages are spoken throughout Argentina, although none of them have been given official status at a national level. Spanish, however, is the most widely spoken in the country and is considered the de facto official language. Spanish belongs to the Indo-European language family under the Ibero-Romance and Castilian subgroups. This language is the second most widely spoken native language in the world. Its alphabet is the same as that used for the English language with the addition of the letter ñ and the use of accent marks over vowels in certain words. Some official regional languages spoken in Argentina include the Indigenous languages: Quechua, Guaraní, and Araucano.
Nearly the entire population of Argentina, approximately 40.9 million individuals, speaks Spanish as a native or second language. This is followed by Italian, which more than 1.5 million individuals cite as their mother tongue, making it the second most widely spoken native language in the country. The third most widely spoken language is Levantine Arabic, which is used by around 1 million immigrants from countries in the Middle East. Quechua, an Indigenous language, is spoken by around 800,000 individuals. Approximately 10% of these speakers live in the province of Salta. German is the fifth most widely spoken language and is reported to be used by between 400,000 and 500,000 individuals.
The Spanish used in Argentina can be understood by the vast majority of Spanish-speakers around the world. It does, however, have a unique accent and pronounce usage. The accent in Argentina, for example, is particularly strong in the y sound (like in the English word yogurt). In Argentina, this sound is expressed with a sh or zhe sound so that yogurt becomes shogurt or zhogurt. Additionally, in most Spanish-speaking countries, people use the pronoun tú to express you (informally). In Argentina, however, speakers use vos, from the voseo form. This also changes the verb conjugation. For example, tú puedes (which means you can) becomes vos podes in Argentina.
Argentina is home to large numbers of Indigenous individuals and foreign immigrants. These residents speak a number of minority languages, including: Yiddish (200,000 speakers), Mapudungun (100,000), Chinese (60,000), Japanese (32,000), and Welsh (5,000). Unfortunately, many of the Indigenous languages in Argentina are considered endangered. In fact, only about 1% of the population speaks a native language and some of these languages have less than 100 speakers. Most of these endangered languages are spoken only by the eldest members of the community and have not been learned by the younger generations.
This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018
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