Dictionary of Exclusive Latin Americanisms

Dictionary of Exclusive Latin Americanisms

Over 450 million people speak Spanish, but by no means do they do so using the exact same vocabulary. Although 80% of the lexicon is used worldwide, there remains 20% of vocabulary which is country or region specific.

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For example, did you know that guagua in Andean areas means small child whereas in the Caribbean the term generally refers to a bus? What would a Cuban citizen think when he would want to travel by guagua, but in Mexico be told he must take a camión?

The Secretary General of the Associated Spanish Language Academies, Humberto López Morales, conscious of the variety and confusion it can sometimes lead to, has coordinated the efforts of 22 Spanish language academies to develop a dictionary of Latin Americanisms. After ten years of work and the compilation of over 120.000 different references, the completed piece was presented on October 12th this year at the Cervantes Institute in New York.

“Our hope now is that every academy in Latin America will begin to expand their national dictionaries so that our lexicon will be able to present itself in all its affluence and variety”, said López Morales during the presentation. The project is not without controversy, as the dictionary also includes various objectionable terms and descriptions and vulgarities, words that according to the coordinator also deserve to be included and reveal the extraordinary wealth contained in the Spanish language.

Of course, the project will be updated once every few years while progress continues. This way, those of us who speak Spanish won’t need to feel lost when we travel to another Latin American country, at least for as far as communication is concerned.

To read this article in Spanish click here

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