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What is Porteño Spanish lunfardo?

A comprehensive, insider’s semantic model.


Lunfardo, often described as “the slang of Buenos Aires” (capital city of Argentina), is a distinctive, well-researched feature of Porteño Spanish, the Spanish variety spoken in that city. This paper provides a comprehensive semantic model that accounts for the meanings and logics that guide “everyday” Porteños (people of Buenos Aires) in their understanding of this highly complex, culture-specific concept.

The proposed model offers fresh insights into Porteños’ construal of their own linguistic world, including people, places, words, discourses, and values that give shape to this world. The model is constructed using the natural semantic metalanguage’s (NSM) approach of maximally simple, clear, cross- translatable terms, and based on close analysis of cultural insiders’ collaborative conceptual exploration in live TV conversation.

KEY WORDS: lunfardo - Porteño Spanish - NSM - tango - language contact - slang - Argentine language and culture

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