Jump to content

Bolivian Spanish

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bolivian Spanish
Español boliviano
Pronunciation[espaˈɲol βoliˈβjano]
Native toBolivia
Native speakers
4.1 million (2014)[1]
4.5 million in Bolivia (2014)
Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byAcademia Boliviana de la Lengua
Language codes
ISO 639-1es
ISO 639-2spa[2]
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Bolivian Spanish (or Castilian) is the variety of Spanish spoken by the majority of the population in Bolivia, either as a mother tongue or as a second language. Within the Spanish of Bolivia there are different regional varieties. In the border areas, Bolivia shares dialectal features with the neighboring countries.

Throughout Bolivia the preservation of phonemic contrast between /ʝ/ and the lateral /ʎ/ (i.e. the absence of yeísmo) is the norm.[3][4] Aspiration of syllable-final /s/ is frequent in the lowlands, while in the highlands the sibilant /s/ tends to be preserved, realized either as a laminal or, frequently, an apical [s].[4][5] In highland dialects, the "trill" phoneme (orthographic ⟨rr⟩ or word-initial ⟨r⟩) is often assibilated, realized as a voiced apicoalveolar fricative,[5][6] or alveolar approximant, which pronunciation is similar to the sound of ⟨r⟩ ([ɹ]) in English. In highland Bolivian Spanish there is "intense reduction" of unstressed vowels in contact with /s/, often resulting in syllables with /s/ as their nucleus, e.g. pues ("well,...") pronounced [ps].[4][7]


  Voseo widespread oral and written like the Rioplatense
  Voseo widespread oral
  Voseo pronominal and oral imperative widespread, in writing coexist the vos and
  Voseo pronoun imperative oral written, verbal voseo gaining ground due to the proximity to Argentina

Andean Spanish[edit]

Camba Spanish[edit]

This variety of Spanish is spoken on the Chaco-Beni plain and in the Santa Cruz valleys, a region that includes the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, and Pando.[8] Spanish is spoken by almost the entire population of these regions, and—like Spanish throughout the Americas—has its basis in Andalusian Spanish and Canarian Spanish, but with influences of native languages such as Chiquitano, Chané and Guarani, as well as Old World languages including Portuguese and Arabic.[8] And although it is fairly uniform across regions and social classes, there are subtle geographical differences.

This dialect is characterized by the debuccalization ("aspiration") of final /s/. For example, the word pues is pronounced [pweh]. For the second-person-singular pronoun and verb forms, the use of "voseo" is dominant. The use of diminutive -ingo and the augmentative -ango is unique to this dialect. For example: chiquitingo ("very small") and grandango ("very large").

Loanwords from Chiquitano or from an extinct variety close to Chiquitano include bi 'genipa', masi 'squirrel', peni 'lizard', peta 'turtle, tortoise', jachi 'chicha leftover', jichi 'worm; jichi spirit', among many others.[9]

Chapaco Spanish[edit]

This dialect is spoken mainly in the valleys and the Gran Chaco of the department of Tarija, but also in the region of Villa Abecia and Camargo (in the department of Chuquisaca), in the province of Sud Chichas (capital Tupiza), and in the Chaco regions of Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz.

The second-person-singular voseo is in full use in Tupiza, in the west of Tarija, and in the rest of the aforementioned areas.

The Chapaco accent has an intonation similar to that of Jujuy, Salta, and Tucumán in Argentina, as the territory where it was originally spoken is now located in the Río de la Plata Province of Tarija. This intonation appears throughout the Bolivian Chaco, Tupiza (Sud Chichas) and the Chuquisaca valleys of Camargo, Villa Abecia, Azurduy, Alcalá, etc.

Valluno Spanish[edit]

This variety is spoken in the departments of Cochabamba and Chuquisaca. It is somewhat similar to Andean Spanish but differs in intonation and the use of idiomatic expressions, due to the mixture of Spanish and Quechua spoken in the valleys of Bolivia.

Tuteo and voseo[edit]

Because many institutions and companies use "tú" and the "tuteante" verb forms for the familiar second-person singular, it is common to encounter the erroneous statement that "tuteo" rather than "voseo" is the usual form in the speech of Bolivia.


This chart shows the similarities between the dialects of Spanish spoken in Bolivia and those spoken in its neighboring Spanish-speaking countries Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Paraguay, as well as Portuguese spoken in neighboring Brazil.

Bolivia Argentina Chile Peru Paraguay Brazil
apricot damasco damasco damasco albaricoque damasco damasco
avocado palta palta palta palta aguacate abacate
banana plátano banana plátano plátano banana banana
bell pepper pimiento morrón pimiento pimiento locote pimentão
bleach lavandina lavandina cloro lejía lavandina água sanitária
bra sostén corpiño sostén sostén corpiño sutiã
butter mantequilla manteca mantequilla mantequilla manteca manteiga
car auto auto auto auto auto carro
clothes hanger percha percha colgador colgador percha cabide
clothespin pinza broche pinza gancho pinza prendedor
computer computadora computadora computador computadora computadora computador
corn on the cob choclo choclo choclo choclo choclo espiga de milho
gasoline gasolina nafta bencina gasolina nafta gasolina
grapefruit pomelo pomelo pomelo toronja pomelo toranja
green bean vainita chaucha poroto verde vainita chaucha vagem
kitchen stove cocina cocina cocina cocina cocina fogão
panties calzón bombacha calzón calzón bombacha calcinha
pea arveja arveja arveja arveja arveja ervilha
peach durazno durazno durazno durazno durazno pêssego
peanut maní maní maní maní maní amendoim
popcorn pipocas pochoclo cabritas pop corn pororó pipoca
skirt falda pollera falda falda pollera saia
sneakers tenis zapatillas zapatillas zapatillas championes tênis
soft drink gaseosa gaseosa bebida gaseosa gaseosa refrigerante
soy soya soja soya soya soja soja
straw[I] bombilla pajita bombilla sorbete pajita canudo
strawberry frutilla frutilla frutilla fresa frutilla morango
sweet potato camote batata camote camote batata batata doce
swimming pool piscina pileta piscina piscina pileta piscina
t-shirt polera remera polera polo remera camiseta
washing machine lavadora lavarropas lavadora lavadora lavarropas lavadora
  1. ^ Refers to the instrument used for drinking.


  1. ^ Spanish → Bolivia at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "ISO 639-2 Language Code search". Library of Congress. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  3. ^ Canfield 1981:28
  4. ^ a b c Lipski 1994:188
  5. ^ a b Canfield 1981:29
  6. ^ Lipski 1994:189
  7. ^ Canfield 1981:29–30
  8. ^ a b Coimbra Sanz
  9. ^ Nikulin, Andrey (2020). "Contacto de lenguas en la Chiquitanía". Revista Brasileira de Línguas Indígenas. 2 (2): 5–30. doi:10.18468/rbli.2019v2n2.p05-30.


  • Canfield, D. Lincoln (1981), Spanish Pronunciation in the Americas, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Coimbra Sanz, Germán (1992), El castellano de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia: Parva Editores
  • Lipski, John M. (1994), Latin American Spanish, London: Longman

External links[edit]