November 8, 2023 ·

Decoding the Local Spanish in Buenos Aires: A Handy Guide


Decoding the Local Spanish in Buenos Aires: A Handy Guide

Anecdotes from numerous international students studying Spanish in Buenos Aires often highlight a common issue: the locals, particularly those from the metropolis, talk rapidly and use a unique lingo that can be difficult to comprehend. This article aims to unravel this language enigma, offering insights and tips on how to better understand and communicate with Porteños, the residents of Buenos Aires.

1. The Pace of Speech

Porteños are known for their brisk speech. Initially, one might dismiss this as a lack of linguistic proficiency, but as your fluency in Spanish grows, you begin to understand that the pace isn’t the only factor. The vocabulary used by the locals also plays a significant role.

“The pace of speech is just one part of the language puzzle in Buenos Aires. The local lingo and vocabulary add another layer of complexity.”

2. Word Shortening: A Porteño Trait

Porteños tend to abbreviate frequently-used words, enabling them to convey their thoughts more swiftly. This linguistic phenomenon is one of the reasons why their speech may seem faster than usual.

2.1. Food Terminology

In the culinary realm, ‘chori’ is a common term for chorizo (beef sausage)/choripan (beef sausage with bread), and ‘chimi’ is short for chimichurri, the quintessential Argentine sauce.Examples:
– Chori = Chorizo/Choripan
– Chimi = Chimichurri

2.2. Everyday Objects

Likewise, ‘compu’ is an abbreviation for computadora (computer), ‘pelu’ for peluquería (hair salon), and ‘zapa’ for zapatillas (runners/sneakers). Note that ‘zapa’ should not be confused with ‘zapatos,’ which refers to shoes in general.Examples:
– Compu = Computadora
– Pelu = Peluquería
– Zapa = Zapatillas

3. Recognizing the Pattern

While not all words can or will be abbreviated, recognizing the pattern in Porteño speech can help one understand the language better. Let’s explore this through a hypothetical conversation between two friends, Jorge and Ramiro.


3.1. The Conversation

JORGE – ¡Ey! ¡Hola Rami! ¿Cómo andás?
RAMIRO – ¡Hola Jorge! ¿Cómo estás? Hace mucho tiempo que no te veo en mi barrio. ¿Qué onda?
JORGE – 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?
RAMIRO – 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].
JORGE – Genial. Necesitabas unas vacaciones.
RAMIRO – 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].
JORGE – Claro, así ellos también van a poder descansar del cole[gio] (this refers to primary or secondary schools).
RAMIRO – 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)?
JORGE – Bárbaro. Aprobé todo los examenes y me queda sólo un cuatri[mestre] para recibirme.
RAMIRO – 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.
JORGE – jaja. Dale. ¡Qué tengan un buen viaje! Mandame un mail después contándome como te fue, porfa (por favor).
RAMIRO – Dale. ¡Cuidate amigo!

4. The Key to Understanding

Armed with this knowledge of Porteño speech, you may find that you can understand more than you initially thought. The next time you engage in a conversation with a local, try to recognize these patterns and abbreviations. Keep practicing, and your comprehension will surely improve over time.

For those who wish to further improve their Spanish skills, consider taking immersive Spanish courses in Argentina at Vamos Academy.

“The key to language proficiency is practice and immersion. Keep listening, keep speaking, and you will surely improve.”

5. Join the Conversation

Stay updated with our latest events and learn more about Buenos Aires by browsing our blog. Join us on to engage in exciting discussions and practice your Spanish skills.

To understand and speak like a local, one needs to adapt to the pace, the vocabulary, and the unique linguistic traits of Buenos Aires. This guide aims to provide a starting point for this linguistic journey, helping you decode the local Spanish and engage in meaningful conversations with Porteños. Happy learning!

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