Paraguayan Spanish

Rioplatense Spanish Spanish language Voseo
Paraguayan Spanish
Español paraguayo
Native toParaguay
Native speakers
6 million (2014)[1]
Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byAcademia Paraguaya de la Lengua Española
Language codes
ISO 639-1es
ISO 639-2spa[2]
ISO 639-3
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Paraguayan Spanish (Spanish: español paraguayo) is the set of dialects 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. Paraguayan Spanish possesses marked characteristics of Spanish previously spoken in northern Spain, because the majority of the first settlers were from Old Castile and the Basque Country.

The Guarani language is co-official with Spanish in Paraguay,[3] and most Paraguayans speak both languages.[4] 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.[5] In addition to the strong influence of Guarani, Paraguayan Spanish is also influenced by River Plate Spanish due to the geographical, historical, and cultural proximity, as well as the sharing of features such as voseo, which is "the use of vos as a second-person singular pronoun."[6] Paraguayan Spanish is notable for its lack of yeismo, meaning that the phonemes /ʎ/ (spelled <ll>) and /ʝ/ (spelled <y>) are distinguished.

The Swedish linguist Bertil Malmberg visited Paraguay in 1946 and observed several features of Spanish pronunciation that he attributed to Guaraní influence.[7] 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.[8]



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.[3]

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

The pink areas are where Castilian Spanish speakers conserve the phoneme /ʎ/ <ll>

Main Characteristics

In dark blue, the countries replace the "tú" with the "vos." The lighter blues indicate the use of tuteo with voseo, while the grey are only tuteo.


First of all, the heterogeneity of the following characteristics are not always applicable to all Paraguayan Spanish speakers, specifically the pronunciation of the letters "r" and "s," which differ according to the social environment.

Dynamics of Guarani-Spanish

Typical Paraguayan Spanish has a strong influence of the sentences of Guarani in its translation to Spanish, as well as the words and borrowed particles of Guarani for colloquial expressions. These are some common cases:

Areas of Spanish proficiency that present post-vocalic aspiration.

Similarities with the River Plate Dialect

Due to the geographical and cultural proximity, both dialects are often confused. This is due to the fact that on the border between Argentina and Paraguay, the respective dialects fuse, creating a northeastern Argentine variety very similar to Paraguayan Spanish in the provinces already mentioned.[9] Examples:


Voseo is a peculiar characteristic of Paraguayan Spanish which is heavily influenced by the River Plate dialect (since historically in Paraguay Guarani was always spoken, and Spanish was relegated to the inhabitants of the capital or the most favored classes in the interior of the country). Another characteristic of voseo is how long it has been around for. "Voseo is the oldest form of Castilian Spanish".[10] After the second half of the 20th century, the teaching of voseo depended on whether the teacher used vos or not. Adding to the strong Argentinian influence, either by the media or by the geographical and cultural proximity, voseo stayed as a distinctive characteristic of Paraguayan. Although it is rarely taught in schools today, voseo is beginning to regain some popularity in the form of an accepted regional dialect.[10]

Dialects of Spanish in Paraguay

Andean Spanish

See also


  1. ^ Spanish → Paraguay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "ISO 639-2 Language Code search". Library of Congress. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b Simon Romero, "An Indigenous Language With Unique Staying Power", The New York Times, March 12, 2012
  4. ^ William R. Long, "Native Guarani Vies with Spanish Paraguay's 2 Languages Source of Pride, Concern", Los Angeles Times, April 13, 1988
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Gerardo, Kayser (2001). El dialecto rioplatense = The River Plate dialect. Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken.
  7. ^ Luis Flórez, review of Malmberg's Notas sobre la fonética del español en el Paraguay[permanent dead link] (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1947), in Thesaurus: Boletín del Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 6 (1950), 301.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Barrenechea, Ana María. "Estudios lingüísticos y dialectológicos: Temas hispánicos". Hachette Universidad: 115–35.
  10. ^ a b "Voseo", Wikipedia, 2019-06-06, retrieved 2019-06-07