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Words, meanings, and discourse in Argentina: an ethnopragmatic study of Porteo Spanish.


This thesis offers original, culturally sensitive insights into Argentines’ linguistic construal of places, people, language, and emotions. It does so by examining the meanings of a diverse selection of words, expressions, and discourses that are culturally significant in Porteño Spanish (spoken in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina). The selected words and expressions (and their rough translations) are: Buenos Aires es la París de Sudamérica (‘Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America’), Los argentinos descienden de los barcos (‘Argentines descend from the ships’), lunfardo (‘Buenos Aires’ slang’), viveza criolla (‘artful cheating’), vivo (‘cunning person’), boludo (‘moron’), and bronca (‘anger’). The method used is Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM), also known as ethnopragmatics, which enables fine-grained semantic and discursive analyses framed in simple, clear, cross-translatable terms. The findings shed light on the cultural logics encapsulated in Porteño words and discourses, which guide Argentines in imagining their country’s past, its future, and in navigating their everyday lives. The thesis is a postcolonial-linguistic contribution to the field of ethnopragmatics, to Porteño and Argentine language and culture studies, and to the study of World Spanishes.

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