At ACR Spanish Translations, I am passionate about the Spanish language and I know that a language is only as alive as the cultures in which it is used and evolves. That’s why I will be profiling Spanish-speaking countries in this blog series: so you can get to know all of the amazing places this world has to offer where Hola means hello and everything Spanish will help you get by! This month, I am looking at the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world: Argentina!
Country Name: Argentina
The name “Argentina” is much older than the nation state that now goes by that name. Its earliest use can be found on a Venetian map from 1536! Argentina is an Italian adjective meaning “(made) of silver” and was probably first used by Venetian and Genoese navigators exploring the La Plata Basin. The name suggests a Terra Argentina or “land of silver” and evokes the legends of silver mountains popular among early European explorers.
Argentina is famous for a lot of things, including mate, tango, incredible food, sports like soccer and diversity! Mate is a tea-like drink produced from an infusion of mate leaves – a shrub common in South America. Rich in caffeine and typically served in a calabash gourd with a filtering straw (usually made of metal and called a bombilla), this wake-me-up beverage is a national favourite and very social. It is common for friends to gather and pass the gourd or to enjoy one’s own in good company.
Similarly, food is also a very social event across the country. Whether you’re enjoying empanadas (meat pockets), a picada Argentina assorted appetizer plate, or an asado grilled feast, Argentinian food is sure to keep your table full of loved ones and your tastebuds happy. And of course, Argentinians have dulce de leche (a divine caramel sauce), alfarjores (crispy layered cookies, pastafrola (quince tart) and facturas (pastries) to have with the mate, and are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth!
One other cultural element I would like to highlight is, of course, the famous tango. Originally, the lowest classes of Argentinian societies would get together and learn the moves. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that wealthy elites started doing the tango, exporting the moves in their travels around the world and in places like Paris, New York and London. This cosmopolitan nature is also clearly shown in language in Argentina.
What Can We Find in Argentina
Very developed agriculture, minerals: aluminium, zinc, copper iron, petroleum, natural gas and much more.
Argentina is a beautiful country with lots to see: Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, El Calafate, Glaciers, Bariloche, beautiful beaches and much more.
Why do Argentinians Speak Spanish Today?
Spanish is spoken by almost all Argentinians and became the dominant language in the region now known as Argentina through colonization by Spain. Before European colonization, Argentina was sparsely populated by a wide number of diverse societies and cultures, including hunter-gatherer societies, farming societies and sedentary trading cultures.
There is wide variation in the Spanish spoken throughout the large and geographically diverse country. Italian and other European immigrants who arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries influenced regional slang. Rioplatense is the most prevalent dialect spoken in the La Plata Basin. Other languages spoken in Argentina reflect both immigrant and indigenous cultures, include English, Italian, Arabic, Yiddish, German, Guarani, Catalan, French, Quechua, Wichi, Mapuche,, Ukrainian, Welsh and many more.
Largest city: Buenos Aires
Area: 2,780,400 km2
Currency: Peso (ARS)
Religion: Predominantly Catholic and Agnostic/Atheist, but also has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Latin America
Famous Argentinians: Pope Francis, Diego Maradona / Lionel Messi (soccer players), Jorge Luis Borges (writer), Eva Perón (politician, wife of President Juan Perón), Carlos Saavedra Lamas (first Latin American Nobel Peace Prize recipient), Carlos Gardel (tango singer).