Monday, December 17, 2007

El voseo

I recently read an article about the use of "el voseo" in Argentine Spanish.
El voseo "occurs" when, instead of using the Tú form to "tutear" someone, you refer to them as "vos" and conjugate verbs accordingly (see below). While Tú is accepted and understood as the familiar "you," saying "vos" is a more familiar tone than Tú, as the former pronoun and resulting conjugation indicates a shared historical, national and cultural background, i.e., The Rioplatense addresses another Rioplatense using "vos" because they've both grown up using "vos."
This 'you' form bears little relation to the devilish vosotros of continental Spanish, and seems to be a closer relative to the você of Brazilian Portuguese (although in this case, the Brazilians have all but eliminated use of the Tú conjugation, having only four conjugations in use: 1st person singular, eu; 2nd person singular,você; 1st person plural, nós; and 2nd person plural, vocês.)
As a different conjugation in the second person, el voseo doesn't vary that much from the Tú form of regular verbs, and is formed by accenting the final vowel in the present indicative 2nd person conjugation. So, in the case of the verb TOMAR, instead of saying, "Tú tomas," we say, "Vos tomás." [Irregulars being somewhat trickier: "decir" varies from "Tú dice" to "Vos decís." Querer, "Tú quieres" = "Vos querés."]
From what I can tell --I haven't seen an example that contradicts this-- the "as/es/is" ending is always accented formally with accent/tilde. El voseo is also used in the imperative/subjunctive, the Tú form of "lo que quieras" (as you wish) becomes "lo que querás."
What thrills me about this dialectical difference is that it represents what I consider to be migration of language trends with no equal migration of populations to account for the trend. I'm wondering if migrating Sephardic Jews brought el voseo from Spain to Argentina, only to then have it spread to the countries on the linked map (below). But how? According to Wikipedia, el voseo enjoys a creeping effect, like linguistic capillary action: it takes hold in the country little by litte, only later being employed by the media and advertisers. "Vos difrutás Coca Cola." If migration is related to the spread of el voseo, then it seems somewhat geographically arbitrary. These "paises voseantes," or --I'm making this up-- vos-using countries," can be found here on the map, the blue countries are those with voseo predominance. In green, countries where it is featured as a regionalism or non-mainstream custom ( In theory, in light of the vos phenomenon currently spreading in appeal in Nicaragua (Wikipedia) and being employed by the media there, el voseo offers evidence of a Spanish language trend passed from country to country by globalized media outlets and marketing.

1 comment:

Trusted said...


Since I realize you understand Spanish pretty well, I kindly invite you to participate in my blog about "voseo":
Thank you!!