Five Signs You're from Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Plaza
Buenos Aires Plaza. Ron Miller - author of Escape from the Happy Cannibal

The bustling capital of Argentina is one of the biggest cities on the continent, and it is also the driving force behind the formidable Argentine economy, so there is no doubt that it is a very important place in South America.

However, like many large cities, it also has a very distinctive culture and the people who live and work in the city will tend to show a few key features that indicate to everyone that they are from Buenos Aires.

These traits can vary from gestures and words that they use through to a particular accent or genealogy, so if you are not from the city, these signs will help you pick up on those Argentinians that are.

You Use Local Slang

The particular words that are used in Buenos Aires and the area around the city are practically a dialect, and many people will state that Rioplatenese Spanish is a distinct dialect that is often not understood in other Spanish speaking areas.

The reason for this varies as linguistic influences including Neapolitan Italian words and also Chilean Spanish words that have been adopted by the locals. This can lead to words such as nino, meaning boy, which has been taken from the Neapolitan and is not being used elsewhere in the Spanish speaking world only being used in Buenos Aires, and there are plenty of examples of this local slang that has adapted from various different languages.

You Greet People By Kissing Them on the Cheeks

The capital of Argentina has been dubbed the 'Paris of South America' by many people, and one of the features that the people of the city will often display is the affectionate greeting of kissing people on the cheeks.

This may awkward, particularly for male visitors, but men greeting their friends and women greeting friends will regularly give each other a kiss on the cheek when they see each other. Customs vary as to who will initiate the kiss, and although most people will tilt their heads to the left, make sure you keep your eyes open in case you end up with an awkward head clash!

Mate is Your Favorite Drink

When visitors first see people carrying a metal flask and a small rounded cup with a metal pipe, they may often be baffled by this strange equipment. The leaves of the yerba mate plant, which is one of the biggest crops produced in Argentina, can be brewed into a hot drink which has a flavor that is a little similar to that of green tea, while some people may add honey.

The drink is also a source of caffeine, which is why many people drink it instead of coffee and tea. Despite being the largest producer, 90% of the leaves are consumed domestically, so if you're from Buenos Aires you will be very familiar with mate.

Your Great-Grandparents are Italian

The migration of Europeans to South America has been happening since the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, but Argentina specifically has a lot of people with Italian heritage, with some estimates suggesting it could be as high as 35% of the population.

Although some of the population came from Northern Italy, the majority of people will trace their heritage to Sicily and Naples, from where there was a large migration in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

You Have an Unusual Accent

While the Chilean people may be known for speaking Spanish with a distinctive accent, the people of Buenos Aires are just as distinctive, where the accent has been strongly influenced by the natural pronunciation and emphasis used in the Italian languages.

This means that the accent is quite difficult to understand for other Spanish speakers, and even those from other areas of the country may find the accent hard on the ear.