November 29, 2014 ·

How to Better Understand Local Spanish in Buenos Aires



Among many students who have come to learn Spanish in Buenos Aires, they all have one common comment and that is Argentines, especially porteños (those from the big city Buenos Aires), speak really fast and it’s hard to understand. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires many years ago with the little Spanish I had in my pocket, I didn’t get bothered too much by the speed because I just thought I wasn’t good enough. As I slowly increased my Spanish fluency over the years, I do realize that porteños seem to speak a lot faster than others but that isn’t just because of the speed, it has a lot to do with the words they use too. One thing obvious is that they love to shorten a lot of their frequently-used words.

Let me explain.

In order to get their ideas across faster, Argentines love to abbreviate words by shortening or combining them. One term you’d hear regularly when it comes to food is “chori” for chorizo (beef sausage)/choripan (beef sausage with bread) and “chimi” for chimichurri (THE sauce to go with the meat), as you know how much we love our choripan with chimi! Others like common objects: “compu” for computadora (computer), “pelu” for peluquería (hair salon), “zapa” for zapatillas (runners/sneakers. Don’t confuse with zapatos which mean shoes in general)… the list goes on.

Of course not every word will be/can be shortened, that’d just sound too ridiculous, but there’s definitely a pattern. Once you start paying attention, you’ll get to catch on quickly. To further demonstrate and with more examples, here is a typical conversation scenario between 2 friends run into each other:

JORGE – ¡Ey! ¡Hola Rami! ¿Cómo andás?
RAMIRO – ¡Hola Jorge! ¿Cómo estás? Hace mucho tiempo que no te veo en mi barrio. ¿Qué onda?
J–  Todo bien. Voy a buscar a mi novia para ir al cine. Tengo entradas para la nueva peli[cular] con Ricardo Darín. y ¿vos, qué vas a hacer?
R – Nada interesante. Tengo que comprar una mochi[la] (backpack) para my hijo porque este finde (fin de semana) me voy con mi familia para Mardel (Mar del Plata) a descansar un poco sin el celu[lar] y sin la compu[tadora].
J– Genial. Necesitabas unas vacaciones.
R– Sí, porque en el trabajo me volvieron loco este año. Estoy cansado de tanta tecnología. A mi mujer y a mi nos pareció que estaría bueno si les mostramos a los chicos una vida más tranqui[la]. Unos días juntos sin tanta tele[visión].
J– Claro, así ellos también van a poder descansar del cole[gio] (this refers to primary or secondary schools).
R– Sí, porque en esta época del año los profes[ores] se ponen muy estrictos con los examenes. ¿Viste? Che Rami, cambiando el tema, ¿Contame cómo vas con la facu[ltad] (university)?
J– Bárbaro. Aprobé todo los examenes y me queda sólo un cuatri[mestre] para recibirme.
R– Te felicito. ¡Me alegra! Uy, casí olvidé que tengo que pasar por el súper[mercado] también para comprar carne para esta noche. Si no, me va a matar mi mujer.
J– jaja. Dale. ¡Qué tengan un buen viaje! Mandame un mail después contándome como te fue, porfa (por favor).
R– Dale. ¡Cuidate amigo!

Now that you know this little tip, hope it’ll help you to ‘listen’ better and able to catch more words from a fast talking Argentine. You may realize you can understand more than you thought!





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