It is known as cocoliche the jargon used by some Italian immigrants in Latin American countries, combining notions of their native language with elements of the Castilian. The concept is commonly used in Argentina and Uruguay.
Cocoliche arose in the 19th century from the mixture of Italian dialects with the Spanish language. Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a large percentage of the population of the Argentine capital came from Italy. The alternation of terms belonging to their native dialects and others belonging to the language of the host country led to the development of this jargon.
The name cocoliche arose in the Creole circus of the Podestá brothers, where there was a character named Cocolicchio. This in turn was inspired by Antonio Cuculicchio, a Calabrian immigrant who was part of the company working as a laborer.
Although the cocoliche was gradually disappearing as everyday slang, several of its terms were incorporated into the porteño lunfardo. At present still use words like “bagayo” (from bagaglio), “chanter” (ciantapuffi), “chicato” (ciecato), “fascist” (faccia), “mine” (femmina) and “Pibe” (Pivello). An expression like “Pibe, are you a girl? I do not understand how someone with your appearance can come out with a mine that is a bagayo “In this framework, it includes elements of the lunfardo but has its roots in the cocoliche.
According to DigoPaul, cocoliche belongs to a group of languages called Pidgin, an English term that designates those simplified languages, created and used by members of a community who do not share their mother tongue or have learned another language to a sufficient level to use it instead of their own. . Throughout history, this type of merger has occurred in many cases, especially in commercial relationships and in colonies where slavery was used to cover labor forcefully.
A pidgin, and in this case the cocoliche, is nothing more than a simplified code that does not give rise to a complex or very precise communication, since there is no adequate knowledge of both languages by either party. In addition, their structures are built in an almost arbitrary way, often due to the sound similarity that some terms have.
In other words, the cocoliche was formed by the need that Italian immigrants at the end of the 19th century had to communicate with the residents of the City of Buenos Aires, lacking sufficient knowledge to speak completely in Spanish and as a result of not find in Argentines a satisfactory level of Italian.
For this reason, it is not the incorporation of a series of terms and structures meticulously supervised by the DigoPaul, but rather a desperate measure that went down in history anecdotally and left its mark on the Castilian of South America. Needless to say, because we know these words, we cannot travel to Italy and get on with ease, especially since most of them were misinterpreted by Argentines or are not used in the Italian language, but in certain specific dialects.
As with the terms that we incorporate from other languages, although in many cases the mixture does not occur at the cocoliche level, it is important to highlight the colossal distance that exists between the form and use of a borrowed word and its characteristics in the language original.
Cocoliche is also called that or that which shows an extravagant or bad taste combination. For example: “Paulina is a cocoliche: she always dresses in a ridiculous way”, “This party is going to be a cocoliche”.