Paraguayan Spanish

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Paraguayan Spanish (Spanish: español paraguayo) is a version of the Spanish language spoken in Paraguay. In addition, it influences the speech of the Argentine provinces of Misiones, Corrientes, Formosa, and, to a lesser extent, Chaco.

The Guarani language is co-official with Spanish in Paraguay,[1] and most Paraguayans speak both languages.[2] Guaraní is the home language of more than half the population of Paraguay, with higher proportions of its use in rural areas, and those who speak Spanish at home slightly in the majority in the cities.[3]

The Swedish linguist Bertil Malmberg visited Paraguay in 1946 and observed several features of Spanish pronunciation that he attributed to Guaraní influence.[4] The Guaraní origin of many of these features, however, has been questioned by other researchers, who document them in dialects not in contact with Guaraní.[5]


The unique features of Paraguayan Spanish developed in part due to Paraguay's early isolation; for example, José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, the country's president until 1840, sealed Paraguay's borders. Other experiences with geographic, political, and economic isolation relative to its neighbours allowed Spanish spoken in Paraguay to develop its own unique characteristics, even apart from the wide-ranging influence of Guarani.[1]

Paraguayan Spanish shares many similarities with Rioplatense Spanish (that is, the variety spoken in Argentina) such as the use of the voseo and various words and phrases.

  • Like all American dialects of Spanish, Paraguayan Spanish has seseo: the traditional phoneme /θ/ merges with /s/.
  • Syllable-final /r/ is pronounced as [ɹ] (as in American English red) before /l/ or /s/, influenced by a substrate from Native American languages; perla ('pearl') and verso ("verse") are pronounced [ˈpeɹla] and [ˈbeɹso].
  • Absence of yeísmo, the historical merger of the phoneme /ʎ/ (spelled <ll>) with /ʝ ~ j/ (spelled <y>). For speakers with yeísmo, the verbs cayó 's/he fell' and calló 's/he fell silent' are homophones, both pronounced [kaˈʝo ~ kaˈjo]. (In dialects that lack yeísmo, maintaining the historical distinction, the two words are pronounced respectively [kaˈʝo ~ kaˈjo] and [kaˈʎo].) Yeísmo characterizes the speech of most Spanish-speakers both in Spain and in the Americas.

Dialects of Spanish in Paraguay[edit]

Andean Spanish[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Simon Romero, "An Indigenous Language With Unique Staying Power", The New York Times, March 12, 2012
  2. ^ William R. Long, "Native Guarani Vies with Spanish Paraguay's 2 Languages Source of Pride, Concern", Los Angeles Times, April 13, 1988
  3. ^ J. K. Choi, 2005, "Bilingualism in Paraguay: Forty Years After Rubin's Study". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 26(3), 233-248, as cited by Sarah Gevene Hopton Tyler, 2010, "Intergenerational Linguistic Changes to the Spanish Dialect of Three Participant Groups from Greater Asunción (Paraguay)", M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, p. 3.
  4. ^ Luis Flórez, review of Malmberg's Notas sobre la fonética del español en el Paraguay (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1947), in Thesaurus: Boletín del Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 6 (1950), 301.
  5. ^ For example Paul Cassano, "The Substrat Theory in Relation to the Bilingualism of Paraguay: Problems and Findings", in Anthropological Linguistics, 15 (1973), 406-426, as cited in D. Lincoln Canfield, Spanish Pronunciation in the Americas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 70.