Sunday, August 25, 2013

Día De La Independencia: The Languages Of Uruguay

This weekend we've been lucky with independence days, with yesterday being Ukraine's and today being Uruguay's. As per usual, we felt it only fitting to honour Uruguay's national day with a look at the country's linguistic landscape.

Of course, Día de la Independencia means "Independence Day" in Spanish, and today was the day Uruguay declared its independence from the Brazilian Empire in 1825. It wasn't until 1828 that Uruguay's independence would officially be recognised on August 28th.

Maldonado, Uruguay
Uruguay, as a nation, is not as linguistically diverse as one may think. Though several other countries in South America feature many indigenous languages, Uruguay does not. There are very few descendants of the native peoples, and sadly Uruguay is thought to have no surviving indigenous languages.

However, the Spanish utilised in the country of Uruguay is particularly interesting. A large number of Italian immigrants have helped shape the Spanish language employed in the area. The mixture of Spanish and Italian used in the region is known as Cocoliche and makes use of hybrid words and mixed vocabulary.

English has a significant presence as a second language, as it does in many parts of the world. Recently it is becoming more and more common amongst younger Uruguayans and those in business.

Given that Uruguay was previously part of the Brazilian Empire, it should come as no surprise that Portuguese is also spoken in parts of the country, especially the areas nearer Brazil.

In border areas, the language of Portuñol is prominent. It is a mixture or pidgin of Portuguese and Rioplatense Spanish, a particular type of Spanish that is spoken principally in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Grande do Sul in Brazil.