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In terms of both land mass and population, Uruguay is comfortably the smallest nation in South America. Do not let statistics fool you, however; this is a country with a long and proud history of punching above its weight. This has been most apparent in football, where the Celeste natio
nal team have lifted two World Cups, two Olympic Games and 14 Copa America championships (more than any of its neighbours in South America), but also in terms of economic activity where it more than matches giant neighbours Brazil and Argentina.
Like its rival across the Rio de la Plata – Uruguay was formerly a province of Argentina, gaining independence in 1830 after a long struggle – the nation has long been associated with a strong agricultural sector, specifically in the raising of cattle for meat and leather products. In 2011, in what was a landmark event for the industry as well as the Uruguayan people, exports of beef surpassed those of Argentina, reaching US$1.4 million a year; a figure that almost doubles the amount registered in 2004. This growth has permitted a strong investment in local services and social programmes by President José Mujica, famous for his austere lifestyle and rejection of the trappings of office.
It is not all just beef, however. Impressive growth figures have been posted across the last 10 years, including during the global financial crisis, and software and IT services are just one example of new industries which have gained prominence in the 21st century. Tourism, as well, is a huge industry for the country, with the coastal city of Punta del Este recognised as the destination for jet-setters from South America and across the world.
Uruguayan Spanish shares a great deal in common with that of Argentina, speaking the Rioplatense dialect that changes both grammar and vocabulary in everyday speech. Do not be fooled, however, in thinking that the two are identical; there are many subtle variations on the Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, and as one moves out of the city and into more rural areas the tone and language begins to resemble more closely the speech of other Latin American nations.
In written form, the differences are somewhat less marked; local texts and media tend to be more formal than those found in their neighbours, using fewer examples of slang and everyday terms and addressing the reader and interview subjects with the Usted pronoun. Nevertheless, an understanding of Spanish from the Rio de la Plata region is essential for any translator who wishes to work efficiently and correctly with material from the country.
If you require translation services for Uruguayan Spanish please contact us for more information.