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I'm interested in translating the English word "massacre." I had always thought that the best translation was "matanza" - learned mainly from growing up in Florida and visiting Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine:

https://www.nps.gov/foma/index.htm

But this Spanish Wikipedia article about the shooting of settlers in Puerto Montt, Chile refers to "La masacre de Puerto Montt":

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masacre_de_Puerto_Montt

What's the difference between the two? Is it a regional difference, maybe Chilean Spanish vs. Castilian Spanish? Or is it a contextual difference, or does it indicate the speaker's attitude toward the events? What would be the preferred word in modern Spanish?

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The main difference is that you could make a Matanza against humans or against pigs, but a Matanza of humans, could be in a battle, in the middle of a war. A Masacre, technically is against civil people, or unarmed people.

For example, a matanza could happen when an army destroys another... a masacre when an army, or an illegal armed group, attack some village, or some protest march and kill some people.

The dictionary says (if you understands some Spanish, it would help):

Matanza
Mortandad de personas ejecutada en una batalla, un asalto, etc.

Masacre
Matanza de personas, por lo general indefensas, producida por ataque armado o causa parecida

  • Esto es perfecto, exactamente lo que quería saber. ¡Muchas gracias! – Jordan Sep 11 '18 at 14:08
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Una matanza de [animales o personas]= killing, the verb is matar.

Una masacre de [animales o personas]=masacre, the verb is masacrar

Matanza is to killing as masacre is to massacre.

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