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Off topic: language and national identity in South America
Thread poster: xxxJon O
xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:39
Dutch to English
+ ...
Feb 20, 2007

I have a question that relates broadly to my PhD research and not knowing much about the sociolinguistic situation in South America I'd be interested to hear from anyone who does.

My question is this:
'To what extent are there nationally recognisable varieties of Spanish in South America? How possible is it, say, to tell a Colombian from an Ecuadorian, from a Peruvian etc on the basis of accent or word-use?'

Many thanks

Jon


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 01:39
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Chileans drop the final "s" Feb 20, 2007

Chilean Spanish is easily recognizable as Chileans, unless in very formal circumstances, drop the final "s". (Actually they replace it with a small puff of air that may or may not be heard).

There is also the telltale "poh" which comes from "pues". This is largely a filler word and can be heard frequently in informal conversation.

Lesser known but just as unique is the Chilean "voseo", which is a familiar second person form of address. It usually (but not always) takes the "tú" personal pronoun. A classic example is "¿Cómo estái?" which is like saying "How ya doin" in informal US English.

For many more examples of this nature, I recommend "How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle".

HTH

Reed


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Vanessa Rivera Rivier  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 00:39
Italian to English
+ ...
Yes... Feb 20, 2007

Just as there are differences in accent an word usage in English speaking countries...Really, is it even plausible to consider that 548,000,000+ people speak one language in exactly the same way? Think about the regional differences in accent only inside the UK.


I am from Puerto Rico and I can tell just from listening to a person if they are from Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina etc...(Don't ask me how, I just know, it's probably because of all those telenovelas!) Some countries such as Argentina even have their own verb conjugations. There are also some vocabulary differences which lead to interestingly funny (and sometimes kinky) misunderstandings, but somehow we all manage to understand each other.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:39
French to Spanish
+ ...
Yes... Feb 20, 2007

Chilean, as Reed says.
An Argentinean: easy to recognize... vos tenés, ¿qué decís?
Amarillo becomes amarijo. And very often ends with "che, pibe(a), boludo(a)." and a lot of gestures, from italian background, should I say.
Colombia and Venezuela are more alike (?), more "Caribean accent" influenced by slave culture as in Cuba.
"No se mete conmi'o, caballe'o, que sale espinao." (Chávez to some politician).
Hope this helps.


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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:39
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
. Feb 20, 2007

No Vanessa, of course all language has inherent geographical and social variation. My question really concerns the salience of this variation and its correlation with national identities in S. America

[Edited at 2007-02-20 17:35]


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Gacela20  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Useful Book Feb 20, 2007

You might find the book "Latin American Spanish" by John Lipski to be useful. It's available on Amazon's U.K. site.

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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:39
English to Spanish
=)) Feb 20, 2007

Reed D. James wrote:

Chilean Spanish is easily recognizable as Chileans, unless in very formal circumstances, drop the final "s". (Actually they replace it with a small puff of air that may or may not be heard).



SO true! I would go even further and say we also drop it in formal settings... and that when we try not to drop it, we overdo it and it sounds affected.


Reed D. James wrote:

For many more examples of this nature, I recommend "How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle".

HTH

Reed


Great book


I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but I sometimes confuse Uruguayan and Argentinian accents...


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
easily recognisable Feb 21, 2007

Very interesting question, Jon.

By definition you can recognise what you already know, right?

And it's funny to realise that even when you have never been in the other country you know how its inhabitants speak.
Among LA countries there's a lot of cultural exchange, like the telenovelas, the jokes with different accents, TV information, books and writers. We have all listened to other countries' presidents speeches, for instance.

I remember that when I met Juan Jacob (also in this thread) I thought "he speaks like Cantinflas". Cantiflas was a famous Mexican humorist I saw on TV when I was a child, but I still remember how he spoke (and not all the Mexicans I know speak like him).

But you might be interested to know that in Spain they are not able to recognise the different LA nationalities. My interpretation is that they are less open to these exchanges that L. Americans enjoy. And it's farther...

Claudia


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Kobe Vander Beken  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:39
English to Dutch
+ ...
interesting book on "peruanismos" Feb 21, 2007

I'm not sure which particular aspect of language differences in Latin America you are interested in but here's a nice book on "perunaismos" (vocabulary-related).


Martha Hildebrandt, peruanismos Editorial Inca S.A., Lima, Perú.

Martha Hildebrandt, el habla culta (o lo que debiera serlo). Editorial Inca S.A., Lima, Perú.

En cuanto al lenguaje informal de los peruanos puedo decir que también hay muchas diferencias en el lenguaje de Lima y el lenguaje de la sierra o del norte.

Suelen usar bastante la interjección "pues", muchas veces pronunciado "pe".

En la sierra hablan más lento según yo.

También hay mucha influencia del quechua, sobre todo en la sierra. Existen palabras en quechua que todos los peruanos entienden y usan aunque no hablen quechua,por ejemplo: wawa (niño).


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
But of course... Feb 21, 2007

Being a speaker of Mexican Spanish but having spent a lot of time in Chile (where I am at this moment) I have to be aware of those differences all the time.

On the informal level such differences are everywhere!

It´s a lot easier to switch between English and Spanish than between Mexican and Chilean.

Every nationality plus regions and subcultures within countries have their own speech. But the nice thing is that we all understand one another regardless. The similarities are much more than the differences.


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
I just remembered Feb 21, 2007

In the last Buenos Aires meeting, several colleagues had lunch together, and one of the best known translators of this site gave us a brilliant demonstration of "English as spoken by a Chilean/Argentinian/Colombian/Peruvian/etc."

It was amazing, and when he spoke "English with Peruvian accent", it was the first time I realized Peruvians have an accent, too.

How can you tell which Spanish is it?

Colombians use "usted" instead of "tu".
Mexicans pronounce "all" the letters in the word.
Chileans use the "puh" and kinda sing the words.
Argentinians are... well, Argentinians.
Venezuelan are more nasal, easily recognizable.
Puerto Ricans won't pronounce "r" but "l" ("Pueltoliqueño")

I've been said that Mexican and Peruvian are the most neutral of "Spanishes", but I wouldn't know, since I can't hear my own accent.

BTW, can anybody describe the Peruvian accent?


[Editado a las 2007-02-21 22:49]


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Constanza Dayller  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
They are very, VERY different... Feb 21, 2007

IMHO, national varieties of South American Spanish are blatantly different. Perhaps they are all the more apparent to me since I was raised in Brazil form the age of 8 (I'm originally from Chile).

It's apparently very obvious that I'm Chilean. Every time I open my mouth I get "You're Chilean" (statement, not question). And yes, the "poh" is a dead giveaway! hehe And I've also been told we "sing" but obviously, I can't hear my own accent.

Argentinian and Mexican Spanish are also extremely easy to detect, and I must say, I have a soft spot for them both! I just love them!


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:39
English to Spanish
... Feb 21, 2007

Slightly connected to Edwal's post, my brother shared a flat with 2 Mexican girls for 2 years in Barcelona and some of his typically Chilean expressions stuck. It was quite amusing hearing them use the (in)famous "poh" and "al tiro" in a Mexican accent.

My brother, on the other hand, got used to the "ahorita".


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 01:39
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
What about certain news and radio celebrities? Feb 22, 2007



SO true! I would go even further and say we also drop it in formal settings... and that when we try not to drop it, we overdo it and it sounds affected.




Andrea,

What about Chilean broadcasters such as Patricio Bañados?He seems to pronounce nearly all of his s's. Sergio Lagos seems to overpronounce his s's. He also has a funny way of pronouncing the final "n". He seems to say "canciómn" instead of "canción".

Saludos,

Reed

[Edited at 2007-02-22 13:11]


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:39
English to Spanish
well... Feb 22, 2007

Reed D. James wrote:

What about Chilean broadcasters such as Patricio Bañados?He seems to pronounce nearly all of his s's. Sergio Lagos seems to overpronounce his s's. He also has a funny way of pronouncing the final "n". He seems to say "canciómn" instead of "canción".



James,

I'd say that Patricio Bañados is one of the (few?) exceptions. Sergio Lagos, on the other hand, is a very good example of what happens when people are too aware of their pronounciation and try to fix it artificially.


Jon, I'd say that in Chile we also tend to omit the final "d".

¿verdá?


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