Chilean Spanish (Spanish: español chileno, español de Chile or castellano de Chile) is any of several varieties of Spanish spoken in most of Chile. Chilean Spanish dialects have distinctive pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and slang usage that differ from those of standard Spanish.
- 1 Variation and accents
- 2 Phonetics and phonology
- 3 Syntax and grammar
- 4 Pronouns and verbs
- 5 Vocabulary
- 6 Example
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Variation and accents
In Chile, there are not many differences between the Spanish spoken in the northern, central and southern areas of the country, although there are notable differences in zones of the far south—such as Aysén, Magallanes (mainly along the border with Argentina), and Chiloé—and in Arica in the extreme north. There is, however, much variation in the Spanish spoken by different social classes. In rural areas from Santiago to Valdivia, Chilean Spanish shows the historical influence of the Castúo dialects of Extremadura (Spain), but some authors point to the Spanish province of Andalusia and more specifically to the city of Seville as an even greater influence on the historical development of Chilean Spanish.
Phonetics and phonology
There are a number of phonetic features common to most Chilean accents, though none of them individually are unique to Chilean Spanish. Rather, it is the particular combination of features that sets Chilean Spanish apart from other regional Spanish dialects. These features include:
- Yeísmo, the historical merger of the phoneme /ʎ/ (spelled <ll>) with /j/ (spelled <y>). For speakers with yeísmo, the verbs cayó ("fell") and calló ("fell silent") are homophones, both pronounced [kaˈʝo]. (In dialects that lack yeísmo, maintaining the historical distinction, the two words are pronounced respectively [kaˈʝo] and [kaˈʎo].) Yeísmo characterizes the speech of most Spanish-speakers both in Spain and in the Americas. In Chile, there are some speakers who are not yeístas and maintain the distinction, mainly in a dwindling few Andean areas south of Santiago.
- Like all American dialects of Spanish, Chilean Spanish has seseo: the traditional phoneme /θ/ merges with /s/. In much of the Andean region, the merged phoneme is pronounced as apicoalveolar [s̺], a sound transitional between laminodental [s] and palatal [ʃ]. This phonetic trait (unique in the Americas) is associated with a large number of northern Spanish settlers in Andean Chile.
- Word- and syllable-final /s/ is often aspirated to [h] or lost entirely, another feature common to many varieties of Spanish in the Americas, as well as to the Canary Islands and the southern half of Spain. Whether final /s/ aspirates or is elided depends on a number of social, regional, and phonological factors, but in general, aspiration is most frequent when preceding a consonant. Complete elision is most commonly found word-finally, and it carries a sociolinguistic stigma. Thus, los chilenos ("the Chileans") can be [lɔh t͡ʃiˈleːnɔ].
- The velar consonants /k/, /ɡ/, and /x/ are fronted or palatalized before front vowels. Thus, queso ("cheese"), guía ("guide"), and jinete ("rider/horseman") are pronounced respectively [ˈceːso], [ˈɟi.a], and [çiˈn̪eːt̪e].
- Between vowels and word-finally, /d/ commonly elides or lenites (a process common throughout the Spanish-speaking world), so that contado ("told") and ciudad ("city") are respectively [kon̪ˈt̪aːo] and [sjuˈð̞aː]. This is less common in formal or upper-class speech.
- The voiceless postalveolar affricate /t͡ʃ/ is pronounced as a fricative [ʃ] by many the lower-class speakers (thus, Chile is pronounced [ˈʃiːle]). This type of pronunciation is viewed as very undesirable. Other variants are more fronted, and include an alveolar affricate, [t͡s], and an even more fronted dental affricate, [t̪͡s̪], mostly used by the upper class.
- The sequences [h]+[β̞], [h]+[ð̞], and [h]+[ɣ̞] (where the [h]s are the results of /s/-aspiration) are devoiced to, respectively, [f], [θ], and [x], identical to Andalusian Spanish. Thus, resbaló ("slid"), desde ('from') and rasgó ("tore") are realized [rɛfaˈloː],[ˈdɛθːe] and [raˈxoː] by some speakers.
- The sequence /ɾn/ is sometimes assimilated to [nn] in lower-class speakers. Thus, jornada ("workday") may be pronounced [xonˈn̪aː].
- In the sequence /bl/, the /b/ may be vocalized to [u]. Thus, inolvidable ("unforgettable") may be [in̪olˈβ̞jaːule], in rural and lower-class urban speakers.
- Unstressed word-final vowels are often devoiced.
Syntax and grammar
- Duplication of the object pronouns me, te, se, lo, la and le before and after the verb is common. For example, "I'm going to go" becomes "Me voy a irme" (standard Spanish accepts either "Me voy a ir" or "Voy a irme"). "I'm going to give them to you" becomes "Te las voy a dártelas". This form is considered more common in less-educated or lower-class speech.
- The Queísmo (when "que" is used instead of "de que") is socially accepted and used in the media, while the Dequeísmo (using "de que" instead of just "que") is avoided.
- In common speech, the conjugations of the Imperative mood of a small number of verbs tend to be replaced with the indicative singular third person. For example, the imperative of "poner" (to put), "pon", becomes "pone"; the imperative of "hacer" (to do), "haz", becomes "hace"; and the imperative of "salir" (to go out), "sal", becomes "sale". Ex: "Hace lo que te pedí (“Do what I asked”). However, that is not allowed in formal speaking. Chilean Spanish speakers also substitute the imperative of the verb “ir” (to go), "ve" for the imperative of the verb "andar" (to walk), "anda", while "ve" is reserved for the verb "ver" (to see). Ex: Ve la hora (“look at the time”).
- Another feature to note is the lack of use of the possessive "nuestro" (“our”), usually replaced by "de nosotros" (“of us”). Ex: «ándate a la casa de nosotros» (“go to the house of us”), instead of «ándate a "nuestra" casa» (“go to our house”).
- It is very common in Chile, as in many other Latin American countries, to use the diminutive suffixes "-ito" and "-ita". They not only mean “little”, as in "perrito" (“little dog”) or "casita" (“little house”), but also have the additional functions of expressing affection, as with "mamita" (“mummy” or “mommy”), or of diminishing the urgency, directness or importance of something, to make something annoying seem more pleasant. So, if someone says "Espérese un momentito" (“Wait a little moment”), it does not mean that the moment will be short, but that the speaker wants to make waiting more palatable while possibly hinting that the moment may turn out to be quite long.
Pronouns and verbs
Verbal voseo is the use of corresponding verb forms (tenís instead of tienes, hablái instead of hablas, etc.).
Voseo is common in Chile, with both Pronominal and Verbal voseo being widely used in the spoken language. However, unlike in neighboring Argentina, neither is deemed acceptable as part of any written document except as reported speech. Voseo of any kind is considered bad linguistic form and generally labels the speaker as unsophisticated, rude or lacking in education.
In Chile there are at least four grades of formality:
1. Pronominal and verbal voseo, that is, the use of the pronoun vos (with the corresponding voseo verbs).
For example: vos sabís, vos venís, vos hablái, etc.
This combination occurs only in very informal situations and should be approached and used with caution by foreigners. It is always considered rude and insulting but is tolerated and enjoyed as part of friendly bonding and banter. However, with even a slight change in intonation it can change from a tone of friendly banter to a form of insult in a heated argument, even among friends. Non-natives should refrain from using vos until sufficient understanding of its use is gained.
2. Verbal voseo, using the pronoun tú.
For example: tú sabís, tú tenís, tú hablái, tú vivís, etc.
This kind of voseo is the predominant form used in the spoken language. It should never be used in formal situations or with people one is not very familiar with.
3. Standard tuteo.
For example: tú sabes, tú hablas, tú tienes, tú vienes, etc.
This is the only acceptable way of writing the informal second person. Because of this more literary facet, its use in spoken language is reserved for slightly more formal situations such as (some) child-to-parent, teacher-to-student or peer-to-peer relations among people who aren't familiar with each other.
4. The use of the pronoun usted.
For example: usted viene, usted habla, usted tiene, etc.
Used for all business and other formal interactions (e.g. student-to-teacher, but not always teacher-to-student), as well as upwards in situations where one person is considered to be well respected, older or of an obviously higher social standing. Stricter parents will demand this kind of speech from their children as well.
The Chilean voseo conjugation has only three irregular verbs in the indicative present: ser, ir, and haber.
In Chile there are various ways to say "you are" to one person. From the least to the most formal:
- The "s" is usually omitted.
A comparison of the conjugation of the Chilean voseo, the general voseo used in Latin American countries except Chile, and the tuteo.
* Rioplatense Spanish prefers the tuteo forms.
Chilean Spanish has a great deal of distinctive slang and vocabulary. Some examples of distinctive Chilean slang include gallo/a (guy/gal), fome (boring), pololear (to go out as girlfriend/boyfriend), pelambre (gossip), poto (buttocks), quiltro (mutt) and chomba (knitted sweater). In addition, several words in Chilean Spanish are borrowed from neighboring Amerindian languages.
Argentine and Rioplatense influence
In Chilean Spanish there is a plenty of lexical influence from the Argentine dialects suggesting the a "masked prestige" otherwise not expressed, since the image of the Argentinian things is otherwise usually negative. Lexical influences runs across the different social strata of Chile. Argentine tourism in Chile during summer and Chilean tourism in Argentine would influence the speech of the upper class. The middle classes would have Argentine influences by watching football in cable television and by watching Argentine programs in the broadcast television. La Cuarta, a "popular" newspaper, regularly employs lunfardo words and expressions. Usually Chileans do not recognize the Argentine borrowings as such claiming they are Chilean terms and expressions. The relation between Argentine dialects and Chilean Spanish would one of "asymetric permeability", with Chilean Spanish adopting sayings of the Argentine variants but usually not the other way round.
- Coa and Lunfardo expressions
Lunfardo is an argot of the Spanish language that originated in the late 19th century among lower classes of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Coa is an argot common among criminals in Chile. It has been heavily influenced by Lunfardo. Examples of Lunfardo and Coa words and phrases in Chilean Spanish are:
- abacanado - presumptuous
- agarrados - being in a fight, mad
- amarrete - stingy, mean
- arrastre - influential
- avivarse - to realise
- bacán - awesome
- cana - jail
- chanchada - disloyal act
- echar la foca (lit. throw the seal/breath) - to severely address someone or express disapproval or disappointment
- emputecer - getting mad
- engrupir - to fool someone
- fiaca - laziness
- garúa - drizzle
- gil - fool
- hacer perro muerto (lit. do a dead dog) - to dine and dash or do something similar
- malandra - thief
- mina - woman
- pucho - a cigarette or cigarette butt
- vagoneta - loafer
- tira - undercover police
- yeta - originally 'bad luck' in Lunfardo, in Chile now means someone who brings bad luck
The Quechua language is probably the Amerindian language that has given Chilean Spanish the largest number of loan words. For example, the names of many American vegetables in Chilean Spanish are derived from Quechuan names, rather than from Nahuatl or Taíno as in Standard Spanish. Some of the words of Quechuan origin include:
- callampa - "mushroom" (Quechua k'allampa, seta in Castilian Spanish) or penis
- cancha - field, pitch, slope (ski), runway (aviation), running track, court (tennis, basketball) (Quechua kancha)
- chacra - a small farm (Quechua chakra)
- chala - "sandal" (sandalia in Standard Spanish)
- chasca - "tassle" can also be diminutized to "chasquilla" which means bangs (of hair)
- china - a female servant in a hacienda or fundo
- choclo - "maize/corn" (Quechua chuqllu, maíz in Standard Spanish)
- chúcaro - "spirited/wild" used traditionally by guasos to refer to a horse
- chupalla - a type of hat
- chupe - "soup/chowder" (Quechua chupi)
- cocaví - "snack/lunch" or "picnic" (from coca)
- cochayuyo - a type of seaweed (Quechua qucha yuyu)
- guagua - "child, baby" (Quechua wawa, niño, bebé in Standard Spanish)
- guanaco - a native camelid animal (Quechua wanaku)
- guasca - whip (Quechua waskha)
- huacho - an orphan or illegitimate children. also used as an adjective meaning 'lone' or 'without a pair', as in a matchless sock
- huaso - a country bumpkin or horseman
- huincha - a strip of wool or cotton or a tape measure, also used for adhesive tape (Quechua wincha)
- humita - an Andean dish similar to the Mexican Tamale (Quechua humint'a, jumint'a). Also a bow tie.
- mate - an infusion made of yerba mate
- mote - a type of dried wheat (Quechua mut'i)
- palta - "avocado" (aguacate in varieties of Spanish that derive the name from Nahuatl)
- poroto - "bean" (judía/alubia in Castilian Spanish and frijol in Mexico and Central America, Quechua purutu)
- yapa or llapa - lagniappe
- zapallo - "squash/pumpkin" (calabaza in Castilian Spanish, Quechua sapallu)
French, German and English loanwords
There are some expressions of non-Hispanic European origin such as British, German or French. They came with the arrival of the European immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. There is also a certain influence from the mass media.
- bifé - piece of furniture, from French buffet.
- bistec or bisté - meat, from English 'beefsteak'.
- budín - pudding, from the English 'pudding'.
- chutear - to shoot, from English 'shoot'.
- clóset - closet, from English 'closet'.
- confort - toilet paper, from French confort; a brand name for toilet paper.
- guachimán - ship watchman, from English 'watchman'.
- hacer zaping - to change channel whilst watching TV, from English 'to zap'.
- jaibón - upper class, from English 'high born'.
- kuchen or cujen - A kind of fruit cake, from German Kuchen.
- lobear - to lobby, from English 'to lobby'.
- livin or living- living room, from English 'living room'.
- lumpen - lower class people, from German Lumpenproletariat.
- luquear - to look, from English 'to look'.
- marraqueta - a kind of bread, from French Marraquette, surname of the Frenchmen who invented it.
- panqueque - pancake, from English 'pancake'.
- overol - overall, from English 'overall'.
- short - short trousers, from English 'short trousers'.
- strudel or estrudel - dessert, from German Strudel, a typical German and Austrian dessert.
- vestón - jacket, from French veste.
An example of a text in normal, carefully spoken Latin American Spanish and the same text with very relaxed pronunciation in informal Chilean Spanish of lower class people:
|Text||¡Cómo corrieron los chilenos Salas y Zamorano! Pelearon como leones. Chocaron una y otra vez contra la defensa azul. ¡Qué gentío llenaba el estadio! En verdad fue una jornada inolvidable. Ajustado cabezazo de Salas y ¡gol! Al celebrar [Salas] resbaló y se rasgó la camiseta.|
("Standard" Latin American Spanish)
|[ˈkomo koˈrjeɾon los tʃiˈlenos ˈsalas i samoˈɾano | peleˈaɾoŋ ˈkomo ˈle‿ones | tʃoˈkaɾon ˈuna j‿ˈot̪ɾa ˈβ̞es ˈkon̪t̪ɾa la ð̞eˈfens aˈsul | ˈke xen̪ˈt̪io ʝeˈnaβ̞a‿el esˈt̪að̞jo | em beɾˈð̞að̞ ˈfwe‿una xoɾˈnað̞a‿inolβ̞iˈð̞aβ̞le | axusˈt̪að̞o kaβ̞eˈsaso ð̞e ˈsalas i ˈɣ̞ol | al seleˈβ̞ɾaɾ rezβ̞aˈlo‿i se razˈɣ̞o la kamiˈset̪a]|
|[ˈkoːmo kɔˈr̥jeːɾon̪ lɔh ʃiˈleːn̪o ˈsaːla‿i samoˈɾaːn̪o | peˈljaːɾoŋ komo ˈljoːn̪ɛh | ʃoˈkaːɾon̪ ˈuːn̪a j‿ot͡ɹ̝̥a ˈβ̞eːh kon̪t͡ɹ̝̥a la‿eˈfeːns aˈsuːl | ˈceː çen̪ˈt̪iːo jeˈn̪aː‿el eˈʰt̪aːð̞jo | ʔem bɛɾˈð̞aː ˈfweː‿un̪a xonˈn̪aː‿in̪olˈβ̞iaːule | ʔaxuˈʰt̪aːo kaβeˈsaːso‿e ˈsaːla‿i ˈɣ̞oːl | ʔal seleˈβ̞ɾaː r̥ɛfaˈloː‿i se r̥aˈxoː la kamiˈseːt̪a]|
|Translation||"How those Chileans Salas and Zamorano ran! They fought like lions. They beat again and again against the blues' defense. What a crowd filled the stadium! In truth it was an unforgettable day. A tight header from Salas and... goal! Celebrating, Salas slid and ripped his shirt."|
- Languages of Chile
- Spanish language
- Spanish dialects and varieties
- Bello orthography
- The first-person narrative novel Tomáh Errázurih, an example of Chilean Spanish.
- Quechua languages
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