Bolivian Spanish

By Stacey
Dec 29, 2015 · 3 min

You may be surprised to know that Bolivia has no less than 37 official languages, which is pretty amazing considering that around 10 million people live in an area of 1.098.581 km2.

Bolivian Spanish | One Hour Translation

You may be surprised to know that Bolivia has no less than 37 official languages, which is pretty amazing considering that around 10 million people live in an area of 1.098.581 km2.

Another interesting fact is that Bolivia is officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, meaning that it’s a landlocked country located in Western central South America. Bolivia is bordered to the south-east by Paraguay, to the north and east by Brazil, to the south by Argentina, to the south-west by Chile, and to the north-west by Peru.

Bolivia became independent from Spain in 1825, but much earlier than that Bolivia became independent from the Incan Empire. Its territory is inhabited by various pre-Colombian cultures, with vast geographic diversity ranging from the Amazon jungle to the Andes. Combining these native cultures with colonial crossbreeding makes Bolivia an exciting multicultural and multi-ethnic country.

The most widely spoken language in Bolivia is Spanish, but Bolivian Spanish takes on different characteristics (like accents and idioms) according to the geographic region, neighboring countries, and the indigenous people of the area. Today, Bolivian Spanish consists of four main dialects.

  • Andean Spanish

Andean Spanish has internal differences, according to social strata. While upper classes speak a version of Spanish that’s quite close to the language used by the Spanish conquistadores, the lower classes blend phonemes from Aymara and Quechua. In many places indigenous languages are in everyday use.

  • Camba Spanish

Camba Spanish has a mediaeval Andalucian Spanish base, with influences including native languages like Chane, Chiquitano and Guarani, in addition to foreign languages like Arabic and Portuguese. Similar to the Rio de La Plata area, they use a vos form, at the end of words they aspirate s and they use the augmentative - ango and the diminutive – ingo.

  • Chapaco Spanish

Chapaco Spanish is a variation of the colonial pronunciation, whereby the tu and the vos are mixed. This language is spoken mainly in the valleys of Tarija.

  • Vallegrandino Spanish

Vallegrandino Spanish’s basis lies in colonial Spanish, with roots from Quechua, and also Chane, Guarani and other foreign languages. Vallegrandino Spanish uses the vos form, and also preserves archaic words.

According to the 2001 census, Spanish is the official language that’s spoken throughout the country: around 88% of Bolivia’s inhabitants speak Spanish as a maternal language, or in some indigenous communities as a second language. This language is used by official and legal state documents and this includes the political Constitution, and public and private institutions who use Spanish as their means of communication, and commercial activities. However, it is noted that besides speaking Spanish, public officials also speak an indigenous language. The main indigenous languages, in order of the number of speakers, are Quechua, Aymara and Guarani.

Translation in Bolivia

The United States Embassy in Bolivia does not provide translation services, however the Consular section does have a list of registered translators for use by US citizens, and anyone else who may require translation services.

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