There are at least 40 spoken languages in Argentina. They include indigenous and immigrant languages, with Spanish being dominant. Some are endangered, spoken by elderly people whose descendants do not speak the languages.[2] There is evidence of some now extinct languages.


Argentina is predominantly a Spanish-speaking country — the fourth largest after Mexico, Spain, and Colombia (according to a compilation of national census figures and United Nations estimates, see List of countries with Spanish-speaking populations). Based on the 2010 national census and supporting research, there are about 40.9 million Spanish speakers in Argentina (almost the entire population).[3][4]

Argentina is one of several Spanish-speaking countries (along with Uruguay, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica) that almost universally use what is known as voseo—the use of the pronoun vos instead of (the familiar "you") as well as its corresponding verb forms. The most prevalent dialect is Rioplatense, whose speakers are located primarily in the basin of the Río de la Plata.

A phonetic study conducted by the Laboratory for Sensory Investigations of [CONICET] and the University of Toronto[5] showed that the intonation Porteño Spanish is unlike that of other Spanish varieties, and suggested that it may be a result of convergence with Italian. Italian immigration influenced Lunfardo, the slang spoken in the Río de la Plata region, permeating the vernacular vocabulary of other regions as well.

As in other large countries, the accents vary depending on geographical location. Extreme differences in pronunciation can be heard within Argentina. One notable pronunciation difference found in Argentina is the “sh” sounding y and ll. In most Spanish speaking countries the letters y and ll are pronounced somewhat like the “y” in yo-yo, however in most parts of Argentina they are pronounced like “sh” in English (such as "shoe") or like "zh" (such as the sound the <s> makes in "measure").

As previously mentioned voseo is commonly used in Argentina. See the article on voseo for more details.

In many of the central and north-eastern areas of the country the trilled /r/ takes on the same sound as the <ll> and <y> ('zh' - a voiced palatal fricative sound, similar to the "s" in the English pronunciation of the word "vision".) For Example, “Río Segundo” sounds like “Zhio Segundo” and “Corrientes” sounds like “Cozhientes”.

The ISO639 code for Argentine Spanish is "es-AR".


Argentina has more than 1,500,000 Italian speakers; this tongue is the second most spoken language in the nation as a native language.[6][A] Italian immigration, which effectively began in the middle of the 19th century and reached its peak in the first two decades of the 20th century, made a lasting and significant impact on the pronunciation and vernacular of Argentina's variety of Spanish, giving it an Italian flair. In fact, Italian dialects (not Standard Italian) have contributed so much to Rioplatense that many foreigners mistake it for Italian.[citation needed]

Levantine Arabic

There are around one million Levantine Arabic speakers in Argentina,[2] as a result of immigration from the Middle East, mostly from Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.

More than 100,000 speakers


South Bolivian Quechua is a Quechuan language spoken by some 800,000 people, mostly immigrants who have arrived in the last years. There are an estimated 70,000 speakers in Salta Province. The language is also known as Central Bolivian Quechua, which has six dialects. It is classified as a Quechua II language and is referred to as Quechua IIC by linguists.


Standard German is spoken by between 400,000[2] and 500,000[7] Argentines of German ancestry, though it has also been stated that there could be as many as 1,800,000.[8]


There are around 200,000 Yiddish speakers in Argentina.[7]


Guaraní is spoken by 200,000 people,[6] mostly in Corrientes (where it is official de jure) and Misiones.[9]


There are 174,000 speakers of the Catalan language.[6]


Mapudungun is spoken by 100,000 Mapuche people in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Buenos Aires, and La Pampa.

More than 1,000 speakers

Chinese is spoken by at least half of the over 60,000 Chinese immigrants, mostly in Buenos Aires.[10]

Wichí is an indigenous language spoken by 53,700 people, mainly in Chaco[6] where, along with Kom and Moqoit, it is official de jure.[11]

Vlax Romani is spoken by 52,000 people.[6]

Japanese is spoken by 32,000 people.[6]

Ukrainian is spoken by 27,000 people.[6]

Welsh is spoken by over 5,000 people in Chubut province.[12] Some districts have recently incorporated it as an educational language.[13]

Mocoví is spoken by 4,525 people in Santa Fe Province, while Mbyá Guaraní has 3,000 speakers in the northeast.[2] Pilagá is spoken by about 2,000 people in the Chaco.[2] There are 1,500 Iyo'wujwa Chorote speakers, 50% of whom are monolingual;[2] Iyo'wujwa Chorote is spoken in the Chaco region and along the Pilcomayo river.[14]

More than 100 speakers

Several Native American languages spoken in Argentina by the native people (1% of the population) are declining at rates that may result in only a handful of speakers within a generation.[citation needed] Kaiwá has 512 speakers, Nivaclé 200, Tapieté and Wichí Lhamtés Nocten only 100. These indigenous languages have suffered slow linguistic and cultural genocide. In this category in terms of number of speakers, one can also include some immigrant languages for instance Plautdietsch with only 140.

Endangered languages

Some languages are critically endangered, spoken only by a handful of isolated elderly people whose children do not speak the language;[2] they are likely to become dead languages once the remaining speakers die. Vilela has about 20 speakers; Puelche has 5 or 6 speakers; in 2000 Tehuelche had 4 speakers, out of about 200 ethnic Tehuelche people, (2000 W. Adelaar); and in 1991 Selk'nam (also known as Ona) had 1 to 3 speakers and is nearly extinct; full blooded Ona people are already extinct. Most endangered speakers speak[citation needed].

Extinct languages

Abipón, Cacán, Chané and Haush are now extinct languages that were spoken by people indigenous to Argentina before European contact. Very little is known of Cacán and Chané.

The Abipón language was a Native American language of the Mataco–Guaycuru family that was spoken by the Abipón people.[15]

Cacán was spoken by Diaguita and Calchaquí aboriginals, and became extinct during the late 17th century or early 18th century; the only manuscript documenting this language was lost, and now there is not enough information to make it possible to link it to any existing language family.[16]

Chané was spoken in the Salta Province, and was either a dialect of or closely related to the Terena language of the Arawakan language family.[2]

The Haush language, belonging to the Chonan family, was an indigenous language spoken by the Haush people and was formerly spoken on the island of Tierra del Fuego.[17]

Cocoliche, a Spanish-Italian creole, was spoken mainly by first and second-generation immigrants from Italy, but is no longer in daily use; it is sometimes used in comedy. Some Cocoliche terms were adopted into Lunfardo slang.[citation needed]

Other languages

Catalan, Occitan, Turoyo, Ukrainian, and Vlax Romani are all reportedly spoken, but the number of speakers are not known.[2] Many Aymará speakers have migrated to Argentina for sugar mill and other work; of more than 2.2 million speakers globally, many are in Argentina.[18] There are Mandarin-, Cantonese-, Japanese-, Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu)-, Korean-, Slovak- and Russian-speaking immigrant communities.[citation needed] Chiripá is also spoken.[19] The Argentinien-schwyzertütsch dialect (Argentine-Swiss German dialect) was introduced by Swiss immigrants.

See also


  1. ^ "Argentina – Language". argentina.gov.ar. Retrieved 2011-06-12.  August 2013
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: Languages of Argentina, Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
  3. ^ INDEC national census estimates Archived 2016-02-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Aún hay niños que sólo hablan el guaraní y no entienden el castellano
  5. ^ Colantoni, Laura and Gurlekian, Jorge (2004). "Convergence and intonation: historical evidence from Buenos Aires Spanish". Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 7: 107–119. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2014.
  7. ^ a b WorldLanguage website. Retrieved on 2007-01-29
  8. ^ "Rápida recuperación económica tras la grave crisis"
  9. ^ Ley No. 5598 de la Provincia de Corrientes, 22 de octubre de 2004
  10. ^ Jóvenes Argenchinos Clarin.com 22 September 2006
  11. ^ Ley No. 6604 de la Provincia de Chaco, 28 de julio de 2010, B.O., (9092)
  12. ^ Ethnologue
  13. ^ Aeberhard, Benson & Phillips 2000, p. 602.
  14. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: Chorote, Iyo'wujwa, Retrieved on 2007-01-02
  15. ^ John Mackenzie (ed.), Peoples, Nations and Cultures.
  16. ^ "Cacan". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  17. ^ Adelaar, Willen F. H. and Pieter Muysken. The languages of the Andes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-521-36275-7. Page 41
  18. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: Aymara, Central, Retrieved on 2007-01-02
  19. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: Chiripá, Retrieved on 2007-01-02


  • Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2014). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (17th ed.). Dallas, TX, USA: Summer Institute of Linguistics International. 
  • Aeberhard, Danny; Benson, Andrew; Phillips, Lucy (2000). The rough guide to Argentina. London: Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1858285696. 


  1. ^ Many elder people also speak a macaronic language of Italian and Spanish called cocoliche, which was originated by the Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.

External links