Argentinian vs. Argentine

By Katie Arango

Is it Argentinian or Argentine? While you might have an immediate gut reaction as to which one you’re completely 100% sure is the correct term, if you investigate a bit further, you’ll realize it’s not quite so black and white. A quick Google search will open up a virtual Pandora’s box of linguistic debate that seems to ask more questions than it answers. Even the most trustworthy of all online sources, Wikipedia, doesn’t take a consistent stance. Full Disclosure: we’ve used both in previous blog posts.

How many of these Argentinian Argentines can you name?

Here are some thought-provoking, if not downright philosophical, questions that this debate brings to light:

-Your first reaction might be just to default to whatever English speaking Argentines call themselves, but do a certain nationality of people get to choose how they are referred to in other languages? This Estadounidense doesn’t think so.

-Should we use different words for the adjective “This Argentine wine is delicious” vs. the Demonym  “Argentinians love football”? While this sounds like it could be the key to differentiate between the two, there’s not much definitive evidence out there to support this theory.

-How about using one adjective in written language while using the other in everday speech? Some claim to have been taught Argentine in school as proper usage, but have always heard Argentinian colloquially used. This makes sense, though I think most of us have heard the term Argentine in spoken language just as much as Argentinian.

-Is this a question of British vs. US English? Many people are adamant that Argentinian is a US invention, while others claim that the Brits use it as well. While that is still up in the air, can we all at least agree that pronouncing the word “Argentine” as “Argenteen” is puerly British? Also, the slightly more elusive “Argentinean” does seem to be unique to the US. Note: Want to open yet another liguistical can of worms? Read about referring to people/things from the US as American.

-Or outdated vs. modern? It has also been proposed that Argentinian is just the more modern day version of Argentine. However, there are documented uses of “Argentinian” dating back to at least 1919. A few online sources refer to Argentine is an archaic term, but it’s unclear whether they’re saying that the adjective is archaic, or using the Argentine as the name of the country is archaic…just in case you’re not confused yet:

Long ago, Argentina used to be referred to as “The Argentine,” much like The Netherlands, since that was a direct translation of the Spanish La Republica Argentina (La Argentina) which puts the name of the country as an adjective rather than a noun. Would that mean that you should use Argentine because Argentinian would be redundant? Or would it mean you should use Argentinian to distinguish your meaning from the country’s name itself?

Merriam-Webster defines Argentine as an adjective meaning “silvery” and doesn’t even mention it’s relationship to the country of Argentina. So that’s one point for Argentinian.

On the other hand, Argentine seems to be the preferred usage from many international publications, such as New York Times, and the BBC. The Oxford English Dictionary lists Argentinian as just a derivative of Argentine. +1 for Argentine.

In conclusion, the jury is still out on this one. But like so many of today’s happenings, the real verdict is settled in the court of public opinion. So, let us know which you think is correct and why in the comments section below and maybe we can settle this once and for all!

argentinos photo credit

Katie Arango

Program Director, Argentina:Katie, a US native, had traveled to Buenos Aires on several extended trips before the city’s lure became too strong and she decided to call it home. Long fascinated by the global scene, Katie earned a degree in International Studies from Miami University and spent time studying and living in Madrid, Spain. She then worked in marketing for an international board game company followed by a brief foray as an online community editor for several websites before joining the Connect-123 team. Still a tourist at heart herself, Katie loves watching newcomers discover the charm of Buenos Aires and takes great pleasure in helping them make the most out of their work and volunteer opportunities while experiencing everything this dynamic city has to offer.


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