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Cocoliche is an Italian-Spanish pidgin that was spoken by Italian immigrants in Argentinamarker (especially in Greater Buenos Aires) between 1880-1950.


Between 1880 and 1900, Argentina received a large number of Italian immigrants, mostly poor country folk who arrived with little or no schooling in the Spanish language. As those immigrants strove to communicate with the local criollos, they produced a variable mixture of Spanish with Italian and Italian dialects, which was given the derogatory name cocoliche by the locals.

Italian proper never took hold in Argentina, especially because most immigrants used their local dialects, and were not proficient in the standard language. This prevented the development of an Italian-language culture. Since the children of the immigrants grew up speaking Spanish at school, work, and military service, Cocoliche remained confined mostly to the first generation immigrants, and slowly fell out of use. The pidgin was depicted humorously in literary works and in the Argentine sainete theater, e.g. by Dario Vittori.


Some Cocoliche words were transferred to lunfardo. For example:

  • manyar (to eat) from mangiare -> in Lunfardo: to eat
  • lonyipietro (fool)
  • fungi (mushroom) -> in Lunfardo: hat
  • vento (wind) -> in Lunfardo: money

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