Italian immigration’s influence on modern Argentine culture is hard to overstate: over 60% of Argentina’s population today has at least one Italian ancestor, with the Italian language being the second most common first language in the country. Italian significantly influenced the Argentine Spanish dialect, especially in the port city of Buenos Aires, providing many slang and loan words and affecting speech patterns and accents. In fact, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Italian influence on Argentine culture became the most important of any immigrant group.”
My essay traces the linguistic, economic, and social history of Italo-Argentine culture beginning with the first wave of immigration in the late 19th century, integration through the two World Wars, finally into the present day. Special focus is placed on Italo-Argentine cultural institutions which have persisted despite recurring anti-immigrant sentiment, including the L’Italiano Italian-language newspaper and Italian Chamber of Commerce in Argentina. A conversation with a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, Marcelo Bomrad, was an integral part of this research.