One of the most vivid illustrations of Medellin’s unique character is evident through the language of its people, the paisas. The distinctive words, phrases and sounds that have emerged over the city’s history illustrate the collectivist character and colorful past of the region of Antioquia. This dialect, like all language, is rooted in culture: historical and social forces play a powerful role in influencing the evolution of the words and phrases that we use daily. As they would say in MedellínL ¡“Que chimba” (how cool)!
Before we begin talking like a true Paisa, we first must understand how exactly to define the “paisa dialect.” Furthermore, what even is a dialect, and how does it differ from a language?
A language is a formal and abstract system that can be written or spoken. For example, Spanish is a language that contains its own rules, different from English or German. There are many regional varieties within the Spanish language. Colombian Spanish is one of these varieties.
A dialect exists under the “umbrella” of a language; it is a distinctive form of speaking the language, developed over time. Dialects exist as differences in meanings (semantics), or variations of pronunciation (phonetics). For example, there are many different dialects of Colombian Spanish, like “Rolo,” “Pastuso,” and “Paisa,” arising from geographical barriers and cultural influences.
By understanding these terms and making sense of the paisa dialect, we will understand the sociolinguistic forces at play in constructing and defining relationships between fellow paisas, increasing our cultural knowledge of the area. Here, human beings cannot exist as individuals; through the language spoken, everyone is connected.
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