Lexical variants types and examples

Egbert Haynes
Lexical variants types and examples

The lexical variants are the different changes that affect a language according to the different places in which it is spoken, the social context and the time. For example, in Latin America "car" or "automobile" is used; however in Spain "car" is used.

These alterations in the way of speaking can occur within the same country, a province, a sub-region of the province and even between groups of inhabitants due to a linguistic agreement between them..

Examples of lexical variants

To understand the subject well, you have to understand what the lexicon is. This is the set of words, the vocabulary that makes up a language and that can vary according to some factors. Among these elements, the different regions in which that language is spoken stand out. By simple extension, dictionaries that collect a vocabulary are also called lexicon.

Languages ​​are not rigid structures, they change over time and with the use that different people who speak it give them. In turn, citizens are determined by their cultural, geographic, temporal and social context; even for his age.

Spanish is one of the five great Romance languages ​​derived from Latin, it is spoken in the five continents, mainly in Europe and America. In total, nineteen countries have it as their official language and there are speakers in many others.

It is estimated that the language is used by around 580 million people in the world. This wide geographical distribution of its speakers means that the lexical variants are many.

Types of lexical variants

Depending on the determining factor for its variation, there are several types of lexical variants:

Geographic variations

The geographical variations, or diatopic, designate the changes that occur within a language by the geographical distances that exist between the different groups of speakers. Within nearby or neighboring communities there is usually little variation or, in any case, less than between human groups that are very distant from each other.

Such is the case, for example, of the large differences that exist between the Spanish spoken in Spain and that spoken in America. On the other hand, there is the one that is spoken in the Southern Cone compared to that of the Caribbean countries, whose lexicon is influenced by Anglicisms.

If we find homogeneous features among the linguistic variations of a region, we call it geolect or dialect.

Temporal variations

Also called diachronics, these refer to the variants that are given to a language over time. They can include not only changes of words to designate the same thing, but also spelling or grammatical changes.

The variations are greater the more separated in time the speakers are. They can be clearly seen in ancient texts or documents compared to current ones.

Social variations

Social or diastratic variations are those that refer to changes in vocabulary and language according to the social group in which each speaker operates.

The way in which the same language is spoken is conditioned by the educational level, age and environment in which its speakers live. For example, the differences between the Spanish spoken by a peasant, a young man living in a big city, and an academic.

Sociolects or social dialects are the linguistic variations shared by a group of people with the same social condition and level of education.

Contextual variations

They refer to the variants in the language of the same speaker according to the context in which they are expressing themselves. This is conditioned by the topic being talked about, the place and the listener or listeners to whom the person speaking is addressed..

Examples of lexical variants

- Avocado (Argentina, Chile) - Avocado (Mexico, Spain).

- Computer (Mexico, Latin America) - computer (Spain).

- Boyfriend (Mexico, Spain) - Pololo (Chile).

- Grapefruit (Mexico) - Pomelo (Spain, Argentina).

- Betabel (Mexico) - Beet (Spain).

- Colectivo (Mexico) - Bus (Spain).

- Mina (Argentina) - Pretty Woman (Mexico).

- Bacano (Colombia) - chulo (Spain) - chido (Mexico).

- Cotonete (Mexico) - bastoncillo (Spain).

- Car (Spain) - car (Mexico).

- Botanas (Mexico) - aperitif or tapas (Spain).

- Cruda (Mexico) - hangover (Spain).

- Strawberry (Mexico) - posh (Spain).

- Carriola (Mexico) - stroller (Spain).

- Chafa (Mexico) - shabby (Spain).

- Chavo (Mexico) - chaval (Spain).

- Huarache (Mexico) - flip flops / sandals (Spain).

- Tianguis (Mexico) - flea market (Spain).

- Antro (Mexico) - disco (Spain).

- Reventón (Mexico) - spree (Spain).

- Toothpick, toothpick, toothpick.

- Straw, straw, straw, straw.

- Work, work.

- Jacket, windbreaker, jacket.

- Talk, talk.

- T-shirt, flannel, T-shirt.

- Skirt, skirt.

- Flip-flop, flip-flop, sandal.

- Refrigerator, refrigerator, freezer.

- Moreno, morocho.

- Red, colorado.

- Sandwich, sandwich.

- Pouch, sack.

- Pen, ballpoint pen, fountain pen.

- Bedspread, blanket, blanket.

- Ice cream, snow, popsicle.

- Cupcake.

- Lighter, lighter, tinderbox.

- Computer, computer, pc.

- Joke, joke.

- Military, military.

- Avocado, avocado.

- Cambur, banana.

- Boy, boy, boy, boy.

- Swab, swab.

- Hook, hanger.

- Police, Paco, Cana.

- Money, silver, pasta.

- Thief, squirt, squirt.

- Suitcase, suitcase, hip flask.


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  5. Calderón Noguera, D. F. (2010). Lexical variants of the Spanish spoken in Tunja within the framework of the Preseea project: a sample *. Spain: University of La Rioja. Recovered from: dialnet.unirioja.es.

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