What Languages do People Speak in Argentina?

Argentina is the 4th largest Spanish-speaking country in the world behind Mexico, Spain, and Colombia but there are many other languages spoken in the South American nation, including a variety of indigenous languages.

How Many Languages Are Spoken in Argentina?

There are at least 40 languages spoken throughout Argentina. This includes Spanish, the dominant and official language, as well as indigenous languages and immigrant languages. Some languages of Argentina are considered endangered.

Official Languages of Argentina

Argentina's official language is Spanish. It's important to note that Argentinians speak a unique form of Spanish called Argentinian Spanish which can sound more like Italian than Spanish. Almost the entire population of Argentina speaks Spanish with 41.7 million speakers out of a population of 43.8 million.

While Argentinian Spanish is mutually intelligible with Spanish spoken in other nations, Argentina is one of several countries like Costa Rica and Honduras that use voseo, or the pronoun vos instead of tú and corresponding verb forms.

The largest dialect is Rioplatense in the Río de la Plata basin. This dialect, also known as Porteño Spanish, is so different from other varieties of Spanish that it's believed to be a convergence with Italian.

The voseo is the oldest type of Castilian Spanish and it was the most common form of verb conjugation when the Americas were discovered and conquered by Europeans in the 15th century. While early conquistadors spoke with the voseo form, it was soon replaced with the tuteo form. Areas of the Spanish Empire like Argentina that were more remote continue to use the voseo form. Regions that had good communication with Spain like Mexico and Cuba do not use voseo.

Other Languages of Argentina

After Spanish, the official language, the most common language spoken in Argentina is Italian. There are over 1.5 million Italian speakers in the country, many of which are descendants of a large wave of Italian immigration that began in the mid-19th century and reached a peak during the 1920s. Italian immigration left a noticeable impact on Argentinian Spanish and foreigners to Argentina often mistake the Rioplatenese dialect of Spanish in Argentina as Italian.

There are also about 1 million speakers of Levantine Arabic in the country. These speakers are immigrants and descendants from countries in the Middle East, primarily Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon. Most of these immigrants came in the 19th century while fleeing the 1860 Mount Lebanon civil war.

Other major immigrant languages in Argentina include:

-- German (400,000 speakers) -- Yiddish (200,000) -- Catalan (175,000)

Argentina has the largest Jewish community of Latin America due to several waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th century.

There are also 15 indigenous languages spoken in Argentina. Most of these languages have no more than a couple thousand speakers and some are endangered, spoken only by older people in the community.

There are three large indigenous languages, however:

-- Quechua (Southern Bolivian Quechua): 800,000 native speakers. This language is spoken by recent Bolivian immigrants. -- Guaraní: 200,000 native speakers. Most speakers live in the northern provinces of Argentina. -- Mapudungun: 100,000 native speakers. This language is spoken by the Mapuchi people of southwestern Argentina and Chile.

Minor languages spoken in Argentina include: -- Chinese: Half of 60,000 Chinese immigrants -- Wichí: indigenous language spoken by 53,000 people in the Chaco -- Vlax Romani: 52,000 speakers -- Japanese: 32,000 speakers -- Ukrainian: 27,00 speakers -- Portuguese: 25,000 speakers -- Welsh: 5,000 speakers in Chubut province -- Mocoví: 4,500 speakers in Santa Fe province -- Mbyá Guaraní: 3,000 speakers in northeast Argentina -- Pilagá: 2,000 people in the Chaco

Primary Languages

Pop. Speaking
Portuñol, Portunhol, Rioplatense, Lunfardo, Porteño

Other Languages

Wichí Lhamtés