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What Language Do They Speak in Chile?

What Language Do They Speak in Chile

Chile, a long and narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, is known for its diverse climates and breathtaking landscapes. But it’s not just the geographical diversity that’s captivating. The linguistic culture of Chile is equally intriguing. Let’s delve into the linguistic ambiance that envelopes this South American gem.

Key TakeawaysDescription
Official LanguageSpanish
Indigenous LanguagesMapudungun, Quechua, Rapa Nui, among others
Foreign LanguagesEnglish, German, Italian, and French
Linguistic CharacteristicsChilean Spanish has unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar
Language Preservation EffortsVarious initiatives to preserve and promote indigenous languages

The Dominance of Spanish

Spanish, without a doubt, is the predominant language spoken in Chile. It’s the official language and the medium of communication in schools, businesses, and government institutions. However, the Spanish spoken in Chile has its own distinct flavor, making it slightly different from the Spanish spoken in other parts of Latin America and Spain.

Unique Features of Chilean Spanish

Chilean Spanish is known for its unique characteristics in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Let’s explore these features:

PronunciationChileans often drop the final ‘s’ and ‘d’ sounds, and the ‘-ado’ ending is pronounced as ‘-ao’.
VocabularyChilean Spanish has a rich array of local slang and expressions, known as “Chilenismos”.
GrammarThe use of “vos” instead of “tú” for informal second person singular, though not as prevalent as in Argentina or Uruguay.

Chilenismos: A Rich Vocabulary

Chilenismos are an integral part of the Chilean linguistic culture. Here are a few examples:

  • Cachai: Do you understand?
  • Pololo / Polola: Boyfriend / Girlfriend
  • Luca: 1,000 Chilean Pesos

These are just the tip of the iceberg, as the list of Chilenismos is long and colorful, adding a unique touch to the Spanish spoken in Chile.

Indigenous Languages: A Rich Heritage

The linguistic diversity of Chile also extends to its indigenous languages, which, though less common, are a significant part of the country’s cultural heritage. Some of these languages include:

  • Mapudungun: The language of the Mapuche people.
  • Quechua: Spoken by some communities in northern Chile.
  • Rapa Nui: The language of the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island.

Efforts to Preserve Indigenous Languages

Various initiatives aim to preserve and promote these indigenous languages. Government policies and community-led efforts are at the forefront of this linguistic preservation movement.

Foreign Languages: Opening Windows to the World

English is the most taught foreign language in Chile, followed by German, Italian, and French. The government and private institutions have been pushing for better English proficiency to improve Chile’s competitiveness on the global stage.


The linguistic landscape of Chile is a fascinating blend of indigenous roots, colonial influence, and modern-day globalization. Understanding the languages spoken in Chile provides a window into the rich cultural tapestry that makes this country unique.