Learning Argentine Spanish

I want to learn Spanish and I downloaded a well-reviewed language app (Bueno Entonces-first lesson is free) However, I quickly realized it was Argentine Spanish, which they did not obviously disclose. I am also trying to learn Spanish from the janitor in my office who speaks no english–we are teaching each other–and getting tips from my fluent cousin.

I not a complete foreign language dummy, I speak French fairly well.

Here’s the main issue: the program seems really good (format etc and cheaper), but I don’t know if starting with Argentine Spanish is such a great idea? (program claims it is because it is the most difficult Spanish–Im not falling for it)

My primary goal for use of Spanish is in my career as an attorney in Texas.


(No lectures necessary that I can never learn a language from an app etc etc—I know learning a language is an all encompassing process–not a science)

Basic Spanish is going to be more or less the same no matter which country the program used as a home base. It isn’t going to be any worse than learning Castillian Spanish which is what the majority of programs teach. The only big difference on a basic level is going to be the pronunciation if the letter ll which I believe is typically pronounced as sh in Argentina but as y in the rest of the world.

So they pronounce “tortillas” as “tortishas”?

Yep, they do.


It’s almost a(n English) J sound in Argentine Spanish.

For the OP’s proposed (presumed) use, as an attorney practicing in Texas, I’d recommend against the Argentine program. Not only is it an unusual dialect (think of buying an English course that teaches Scouser or Strine) but IIRC Argentine colloquialisms and “forbidden terms” are significantly ‘off’ from either Castilian or most of the rest of Hispanophone American dialects. (Think “She served his cock, stewed with dumplings, for dinner” where of course a rooster is meant, as an example. A word that means “seashell” everywhere else is the most vulgar term for the female pudenda in Argentine usage, IIRC.)

I don’t know that it’s more difficult, but it has some unusual pronoun usage (the voseo linked to by the lurking horror) as well as a quite distinctive accent. I found it somewhat difficult to understand when I was in Argentina, although I am fluent in Spanish.

I would strongly recommend trying to learn Mexican Spanish, then. The accent and word usage different significantly from Argentine Spanish. There is no point learning a form that is so different than the one you will be coming into contact with the most.

In my experience, nearly all Spanish programs in the US teach Latin American Spanish and barely touch on the Castillian forms. (I was never required to learn the vosotros forms, for example.) And I would not recommend learning Castillian Spanish either if you are going to be using it mainly in the Americas.

Since the OP is seeking advice, I’ll move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Hombre, since you’re going to be dealing mostly with people who are (they or their close ancestors) from Mexico or Central America, what I’d recommend is Mexican, as Colibri said. Argentinian happens to be one of the most distinct Spanish dialects: there’s enough differences between it and the dialects you’re likely to encounter that the course will probably lead to confusion rather than synergy.

This has been the opposite of my experience growing up in California where you would expect Mexican Spanish to be the most widely taught. But everyone used Castillian and simply emphasized that vosotros wasn’t used much in the Americas. But we still had to learn it. Had to listen to most of my professors lisp too.

That said, most of my actual working Spanish was taught to me by my high school girlfriend, so there is something to be said for actually talking to people. The basics are all going to be the basics and slang and idioms are going to be problematic no matter what.

So much so, that we have locally a “rule” for polite conversation:

No discussion of dessert and especially not “cake” when multiple dialects are involved.

This seems strange, but in our experience the words used in one dialect often end up being nasty slang terms in at least one of the other dialects - so much so that it’s better just to say “cake” in english, or avoid the topic altogether.

When I worked at a school once, we had a guy from Spain and some guys from Columbia (don’t remember what regions). They could not understand each other.

Learn Mexican-Spanish. That’s what you’ll be using.

That’s seems quite bizarre to me. That’s like teaching the Queen’s English instead of American dialect to a class in Mexico, and I would think it would be counterproductive.

I took Spanish in high school in New York City and in graduate school in Colorado, as well as lessons and tutoring in Washington DC. Although my high school teacher was from Spain and had a Castillian accent (which being high school kids we made fun of), all the recordings we practiced with in language lab were in Latin American Spanish. While the vosotros forms were mentioned they were not required to be learned for tests. I think I had to learn vosotros forms in my upper level Spanish course in grad school, but even there they we only had a few test questions on them and you didn’t really have to know them.

The Spanish I was taught in school seemed to be some bizarro amalgam of the vocabularies from multiple countries. Vosotros was de-emphasized and we were taught the generic Latin American accent, but a lot of the vocabulary did not match up with the Spanish I am familiar with people actually speaking here in California. For instance, we were taught “coche” for car, whereas people actually say “carro,” “boligrafo” for “pen” whereas “lapicera” is more commonly used, and “cuaderno” for “folder,” where people just usually say “libro.”

Oddly, all of those vocab variations you mention are also Argentine usages (coches, bolígrafos, y cuadernos).

I once got into a long conversation with a professor from Spain who couldn’t understand what I meant when I used the word “pelado.” I assured him it meant “bald” in Argentine Spanish, but he wasn’t buying it. He must have misunderstood me, because I don’t think it’s a very obscure regionalism.

As for the OP, Argentina also shares the “voseo” form with Central America, so it’s not like you’re learning something that will be useless in your job. (I didn’t know this until very recently when I watched the film “Sin Nombre.” )

It’s a mix, even within one country. “Carro” is really a Mexico City area thing; otherwise everyone else (in my experience) says “coche.” “Pluma” is almost universal for “pen” in Mexico (and also for “fart”), whereas I’d expect “boligrafo” from someplace further south. I’ve never heard “lapicera” but “lapicero” is a mechanical pencil. “Cuaderno” is normally a notebook, and “folder” is normally “folder.”

Here in Panama car is always “carro,” I can’t recall ever hearing “coche.” “Pluma” is pen, although a ballpoint is a “boligrafo.” “Cuaderno” is a notebook; a folder is a “carpeta.”

Unlike many parts of Latin America, “coger” is OK to use.

Sometimes in Mexico “carpeta” is used for “folder,” but generally it’s folder (and on my Mac, it’s “carpeta”). In Mexico, “coger” is very obviously what it is, but subject to context. It makes for interesting Mexican double-speak. Damned if I can remember the term for the double-speak, but it’s almost a national sport to “hablar de doble sentido.”

I learned primarily Mexican Spanish, but I didn’t have any trouble being understood when I was in Paraguay, where according to that Wiki article they use voseo. It could have been because Guarani is actually the native lengua of Paraguay, and most people there learn Spanish as a second language. The people who do translating at my library learned Spanish all over the globe, and they don’t have much difficulty speaking to the mostly Mexicans who need help. In my own experience, more depends on the quirks of the individual speaker. Slang and idioms throw me off, and some people don’t seem to know how to speak perfectly flat, non-idiomatic language - in any language. I’ve been called on to translate at the library, and found that if I simply spoke English clearly and avoided idioms, I could be understood. Some Mexicans, I have found, are very difficult to understand, while my sister, who is Mexican, can carry on at length and I understand every word.

Oh man, I remember a spanish class in college where the professor informed everyone that in her class we would talk about plumas and not boligrafos.

(I sometimes felt as though the spanish department was at war with itself. One semester I’d have a castillian teacher and the next a colombian and they’d never agree on even basic vocabulary. Every professor had their idea of what the right term was and no one ever agreed with anyone else. Is it true that in some countries, cosa is vulgar slang?)