Italian Argentine

Infobox Ethnic group
group = flagicon|Italy Italian Argentine flagicon|Argentina
"Italo Argentino"

caption = Notable Italian-Argentines
Carlos Pellegrini·Arturo Frondizi·Ástor Piazzolla
Luciana Pedraza·Lionel Messi·Gabriela Sabatini
poptime = 20 - 25 million

up to 70% of Argentina's population
popplace = Throughout Argentina
langs = Rioplatense Spanish. Minority speaks Italian and Italian dialects.
rels = Predominantly Roman Catholicism
related = Italians, Italian Brazilian, Italian American, Italian Uruguayan
An Italian Argentine (Spanish and Italian: "italo-argentino") is an Argentine citizen of full or partial Italian ancestry. It is estimated between 20 to 25 million Argentines have some degree of Italian descent (up to 70 % of the total population) [ [ Travel for good: Argentina] ] . Italians began arriving to Argentina in great numbers in the 1870s, and this migratory flow continued to the 1960s.

Italian settlement in Argentina, along with Spanish settlement, formed the backbone of today's Argentine society. Argentine culture has significant connections to Italian culture, also in terms of language, customs and traditions [ [ O.N.I.-Department of Education of Argentina] ] .


Italian immigration to Argentina began in the nineteenth century, just after Argentina won its independence from Spain. There are many reasons explaining the Italian immigration to Argentina: Italy was enduring economic problems caused mainly by the unification of the Italian states into one nation. The country was impoverished, unemployment was rampant, certain areas witnessed overpopulation, and Italy was subject to significant political turmoil. Italians saw in Argentina a chance to build for themselves a brand new life.

The Argentine government wanted to populate the new lands they acquired from the wars, such as the Conquest of the Desert and War of the Triple Alliance, to legitimize Argentine claims on those lands from the neighbouring nations. Argentina required a labour force for its growing industrial and agricultural economy. The Argentine government welcomed the immigrants for racial reasons, because many Argentine politicians considered the Indigenous and the Mestizo to be inferior and could not be trusted [Eurocentrism in Argentina] . These politicians also believed that Argentina should be a White nation, so following 19th century positivist ideas, the Argentine government encouraged and promoted European immigration.


The original Italian settlers came from Northern Italy. Until 1894 most immigrants arrived principally from Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria. Many settlers from North Italy established towns in the Pampean region of the provinces of Santa Fe and Córdoba, as well as in the province of Mendoza. They also constituted the main population in the foundation of Resistencia, that then would be the capital of Chaco. After 1894, the afflux of Italians was mainly from Southern Italy, especially from Campania, Sicily and Calabria.

Italians became firmly established throughout Argentina, but the greatest concentrations are in the Province and the City of Buenos Aires, the Province of Santa Fe, the Province of Entre Rios, the Province of Córdoba, the Province of Tucumán, the Province of La Pampa and, in the nearby country of Uruguay.

The Italian population in Argentina is the second largest in the world, by numbers, outside of Italy (after Brazil) [ [ Italianos en Argentina] ] . By concentration, along with Uruguay, it is the highest outside of Italy.Fact|date=April 2008

Italian historian, Marcello De Cecco has specified:

Censual Results

Causes of Immigration

The cause of Italian people emigration towards the Argentina were diverse:

* The weak capacity of adjustment of the Italian economy to the industrial revolution. The modernization did not manage to overcome structural problems of organization.

* The crises of subsistence between 1816 and 1817.

* The epidemics of cholera in the following periods: 1835-37; 1854-55; 1865-67; 1884-85.

* The downswing of the welfare organs.

* The monetary penuries arisen from the high tax rates and the usury. It was necessary that departs from the family was emigrating to obtain external earnings that were allowing to overcome the above mentioned penuries. It is because of it that many immigrants were sending part of their income to the family that had stayed in Italy to be able to raise the mortgages that were weighing on their lands.

* The complex adjustment of the craftsmen to the industrial process. Before the inability to compete with the industry, they emigrate to support the form of production in still not developed countries that were valuing the "art". Many people were cobblers, tailors, leather workers, who were overcome by the industrial production.

* The consequences of World War I and World War II

Italian Influences


According to Ethnologue, Argentina has more than 1,500,000 Italian speakers; this tongue is the second most spoken language in the nation. [ [ Languages of Argentina] ]

In spite of the great many Italian immigrants, the Italian language never truly took hold in Argentina, in part because at the time the great majority of Italians spoke only their local Italian dialect and not the unified, standard Italian. This prevented any expansion of the use of the Italian language as a primary language in Argentina. The similarity of the Italian dialects with Spanish also enabled the immigrants to assimilate, by using the Spanish language, with relative ease.

Rioplatense Spanish

Italian immigration from the second half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century made a lasting and significant impact on the intonation of Argentina's vernacular Spanish. Preliminary research has shown that Rioplatense Spanish, and particularly the speech of the city of Buenos Aires, has intonation patterns that resemble those of Italian dialects, and differ markedly from the patterns of other forms of Spanish. [ [;jsessionid=876EDC91DBBD498D3DC9D78E4E04A4E1.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=236145#fn1 Convergence and intonation: historical evidence from Argentine Spanish] ] This correlates well with immigration patterns as Argentina, and particularly Buenos Aires, had huge numbers of Italian settlers since the 19th century.

According to a study conducted by National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, and published in "Bilingualism: Language and Cognition" (ISSN 1366-7289) [ [ Buenos Aires residents speak with an intonation most closely resembling neapolitan language] ] The researchers note that this is relatively recent phenomenon, starting in the beginning of the 20th century with the main wave of Southern Italian immigration. Before that, the "porteño" accent was more similar to that of Spain, especially Andalusia. [ [ Napolitanos y porteños, unidos por el acento (in spanish)] ]


Much of Lunfardo arrived with European immigrants, such as Italians, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, and Poles. It should be noted that most Italian and Spanish immigrants spoke their regional languages and dialects and not standard Italian or Spanish; other words arrived from the pampa by means of the gauchos; a small number originated in Argentina's native population.

Most sources believe that Lunfardo originated in jails, as a prisoner-only argot. Circa 1900, the word "lunfardo" itself (originally a deformation of "lombardo" in several Italian dialects) was used to mean "outlaw".Lunfardo words are inserted in the normal flow of Rioplatense Spanish sentences. Thus, a Mexican reading tango lyrics will need, at most, the translation of a discrete set of words, and not a grammar guide.

Tango lyrics use lunfardo sparsely, but some songs (such as "El Ciruja", or most lyrics by Celedonio Flores) employ lunfardo heavily. "Milonga Lunfarda" by Edmundo Rivero is an instructive and entertaining primer on lunfardo usage. []


* "Parla" - To speak (from the Italian "parlare" -to speak-)
* "Manyar" - To know / to eat (from the Italian "mangiare" -to eat-)
* "Mina" - Female (from the Italian "femmina" -Female-)
* "Morfar" - To eat (from French argot "morfer" -to eat-)
* "Laburar" - To work (from Italian "lavorare" - to work-)
* "Algo voy a cerebrar" - I'll think something up ("cerebrar" from "cerebro" -brains-)
* "Chochamu" - Young man ("vesre" for "muchacho")
* "Gurí" - Boy (from Guaraní -boy-) Feminine: "gurisa" - girl. Plural: "gurises" - kids
* "Garpar" - to pay with money (vesre for "pagar" which means to pay)
* "Gomías" - Friends ("vesre" for "amigos")
* "Trucho" - False/Fake/Not Real
* "Fiaca" - laziness (from the Italian "fiacco" -weak-)
* "Engrupir" - To fool someone (origin unknown, but also used in modern European and Brazilian Portuguese slang).
* "Junar" - To look to / to know (from Caló "junar" -to hear-)


Between about 1880 and 1900, Argentina received a large number of peasants who arrived with little or no schooling in the Spanish language. As those immigrants strove to communicate with the local "criollos", they produced a variable mixture of Spanish with Italian and Italian dialects. This pidgin language was given the derogatory name "cocoliche" by the locals.

Since the children of the immigrants grew up speaking Spanish at school, work, and military service, Cocoliche remained confined mostly to the first generation immigrants, and slowly fell out of use. The pidgin has been depicted humorously in literary works and in the Argentine sainete theater, e.g. by Dario Vittori.


Argentine cuisine has been strongly influenced by Italian cusine, the typical Argentine diet is a variation the Mediterranean diet. Italian staple dishes like pizza and pasta are common and it ia a tradition among Argentines to choose different variations of pizzas. Pasta is extremely common, either simple unadorned pasta with butter or oil, or accompanied by tomato or bechamel-based sauce.


Pizza (locally pronounced "pisa or pitsa"), for example, has been wholly subsumed and in its Argentine form more closely resembles Italian calzones than it does its Italian ancestor. Typical or exclusively Argentine pizzas include "pizza canchera", "pizza rellena" (stuffed pizza), "pizza por metro" (pizza by the meter), and "pizza a la parrilla" (grilled pizza). While Argentine pizza, derives from Neapolitan cuisine, the Argentine "fugaza"/"fugazza" comes from the "focaccia xeneise" (Genoan), but in any case its preparation is different from its Italian counterpart, and the addition of cheese to make the dish (fugaza con queso or fugazzeta) is an Argentine invention.


"Fainá" is a type of thin bread made with chickpea flour (adopted from northern Italy). During the 20th century, people in pizzerias in Buenos Aires, Rosario or Córdoba have commonly ordered a "combo" of "moscato", pizza, and "fainá". This is a large glass of a sweet wine called moscato (muscat), plus two triangular stacked pieces (the lower one being pizza and the upper one "fainá"). Despite both pizza and faina being Italian in origin, they are never served together in that country.


Nevertheless, the "pastas" (pasta, always in the plural) surpass pizzas in consumption levels. Among them are "tallarines" (fettuccine), "ravioles" (ravioli), "ñoquis" (gnocchi), and "canelones" (cannelloni). They are usually cooked, served, and consumed in Argentine fashion, called "al-uso-nostro", a phrase of Italian origin.

For example, it is common for pasta to be eaten together with white bread ("French bread"), which is unusual in Italy. This can be explained by the low cost of bread and the fact that Argentine pastas tend to come together with a large amount of "tuco" sauce (Italian "sugo"), and accompanied by "estofado" (stew). Less commonly, pastas are eaten with a dressing of "pesto", a green sauce based on basil, or "salsa blanca" (Béchamel sauce).

"Sorrentinos" are also a local dish with a misleading name (they do not come from Sorrento, but were invented in Mar del Plata). They look like big round "ravioles" stuffed with mozzarella, cottage cheese and basil in tomato sauce.

"Polenta" comes from Northern Italy and is very common throughout Argentina. But unlike in Italy, this cornmeal is eaten as a main dish, with sauce and melted cheese.


Other dishes are "milanesas" (Its name derive from the original cotoletta alla milanese from Milan, Italy ), or breaded meats. A common dish of this variety is the "milanesa napolitana" (the name comes from a restaurant that used to be in Buenos Aires, "El Napolitano"). "Milanesa napolitana" is an Argentine innovation despite its name and it consists of a breaded meat with cheese, tomatoes and in some special cases, ham on top of the meat. In addition to roast beef, "bifes", and "churrascos", a visitor to the central region will find many dishes of Italian origin that have been incorporated into the Argentine cuisine and heavily modified from their original forms. The milanesa was brought to Argentina from Central European immigrants, its name reflecting the original Milanese preparation "cotoletta alla milanese", which also inspired the wiener schnitzel [] []

Pasta Frola

The Pasta Frola is a typical Argentine recipe heavily influenced by southern italian cuisine, also known as Pasta Frolla in Italy. Pasta frola consists in a mass covered with sweet of quince, sweet-potato or of milk and adorned with thin strips of the same mass, giving form of squared rhomboid on the cap of sweet [ [ La Pasta Frola] In spanish] It is an Argentine tradition to eat pastafrola with mate on the afternoons and is also very popular in Uruguay. The traditional Italian recipe was not prepared with a latticework as it is in Argentina, but with a lid pierced with molds in forms of heart or flowers.


ee also

*Demographics of Argentina
*Spanish settlement in Argentina
*German settlement in Argentina
*Immigration in Argentina
*Italian People

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