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I'm watching La pelea de mi vida, an Argentinean film, and in it the characters are dropping their esses all over the place. E'ta, e'tuve, even stuff like E' muy e'traño and E'to tene'

The film is about a boxer and his milieu. What I want to know: Is this a class marker or is it pervasive in Argentina?

*NB By "class marker" I mean is it used as part of an accent denoting a certain societal level. For example, in the U.S. it is common for members of the working class in some areas to say "dese" for these and "dem" for them, etc.

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  • I don't think this is a class marker and I disagree with the selected answer. Even in advertisements along the highways you see the words dropping "e". Do you argue then the advertisements tend to stereotype and make fun of teens/lower class people? I'd say this is just one of the language characteristics of Argentinian Spanish. Similar phenomena also occurs in Chile and a Chilean would definitely not say this is a sign of "stereotyping". This is just what identifies you as a person belonging to that region no matter your social class. – xji Jul 19 '15 at 8:25
  • @XiangJi: I said /s/, not /e/. – Robusto Jul 19 '15 at 10:10
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I don't completely agree with Diego. I'm from Argentina and yes, there is a lot of people dropping the esses from all social classes (I even had an economics professor doing that, every single day she would say something like tre empresa ingresan sei mil peso a la semana). However, this is extremely more frequent now from teens and young adults of the lower classes, at the point it became a prejudice and a stereotype.

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    Interesting. It seems that if it is indeed "extremely more frequent now from teens and young adults of the lower classes" it has morphed into something of a class marker. – Robusto Jul 15 '15 at 12:56
  • If you state that "yes, there is a lot of people dropping the esses from all social classes"I think that you actually don't disagree with my answer. Yes, lower classes tend to have a more difficult access to education and thus the stereotype is that they speak worse. Could that trait be a regional accent instead of a class marker? If your own economics professor has that trait, does it mean he comes from a lower social class? – Diego Jul 15 '15 at 13:00
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    @Robusto, I would say that yes, if you drop some letters you are not pronouncing correctly, and thus, speaking "worse" (or speaking the standard of your dialect badly). Nevertheless, I don't think it is a class marker (could be a region marker) and I don't think is pervasive in Argentina. Again, if a university teacher speaks that way (or anyone), can he immediately labeled as "lower class"? Maybe lower classes show this trait, but not everyone who shows this trait might be low class. – Diego Jul 15 '15 at 13:18
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    +1 @Diego, that's why I say stereotype: "Maybe lower classes show this trait, but not everyone who shows this trait might be low class.". That's is exactly what happens here. Yet, in the last decade, this is a phenomena mostly seen in the lower classes. – Zukki Jul 15 '15 at 13:26
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    I would also not agree with the whole "it's not pervasive" sentiment, although I'm not from Argentina. I'd say it's definitely common enough to call it 'pervasive'. – clinch Jul 15 '15 at 15:09
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It is common, and it doesn't happen only in Argentina, it happens in most, if not all, the countries, by regions. In Colombia, for example, everyone in the coast regions. It comes from the roots of that people, from the ancestors. Also the accent is different.

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Between the extremes: pronouncing the 's' fully (sibilant sound) and omitting it entirely (which sometimes is done intentionally as tribal jargon), there is an intermediate case: an almost suppressed 's', a slightly aspirated sound (sort of English 'h'). This is very common in some regions of Argentina (more towards the center), and now is prevalent in Buenos Aires also.

A few examples for listening, from a recent political debate in Buenos Aires:

00:10 "... ya están los tres candidatos con mayor chance..." (all aspirated)

1:34 "...buenas noches a los tres..." (first aspirated, last one sibilant)

34:39 "... con eso calculamos llegar a un millón y medio de personas beneficiadas" (idem)

The pattern suggests that the full 's' is prefered for more emphatical words, especially at the end of a phrase. A typical case, I think, is the greeting "Buenas noches." (or "Buenas tardes." or "Buenos días.") : in my experience (Buenos Aires), the last 's' is often pronounced, but the first one is almost always aspirated.

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It does not denote social class and is not pervasive in Argentina. Is just the accent of certain characters on that movie.

If you check other sources (e.g. different Argentinean movies or shows or even read what Argentineans post on the Internet) you may notice that Argentineans tend to use voseo instead for addressing people "de tú". Thus, you may hear from Argentineans

Vos tenés que venir a mi fiesta.

Vos querés volverme loco.

Tenemos las bolas por el piso de tantísima corrupción.

And you'll be hearing the "esses" the way you are expecting to hear them. The lesson here is that if you are speaking Spanish to Argentineans you don't need to do anything fancy to your esses.

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  • Yes, I've watched other Argentinean films where I didn't hear that dropped ess. That's why I wondered if it could possibly be a class marker. – Robusto Jul 15 '15 at 9:27

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