Portuñol or portunhol – a dialect based on code-switching between Spanish and Portuguese – has resulted from prolonged contact between the inhabitants of border areas. Emerging over time as a sort of lingua franca for those living in immigrant communities or in trade zones where speakers lacked fluency in the other group’s language, portuñol can be described as a hybrid mixture of Spanish and Portuguese with a smattering of influences from indigenous languages. Portuñol speakers are concentrated in the border areas between Argentina and Brazil, Paraguay and Brazil, and Uruguay and Brazil.
The most uniform and structured variation of portuñol, known as portuñol riverense or fronterizo, is spoken near the Uruguay-Brazil border, specifically in and around the area surrounding the twin cities of Rivera, Uruguay and Santana do Livramento, Brazil. Although most linguists consider portuñol riverense to be primarily a Portuguese-based dialect, other variants of portuñol retain more of a Spanish flavor.
In the past few years, a number of literary works in portuñol have been produced, largely by Uruguayan and Brazilian authors. One of the most celebrated examples of portuñol literature is a novel entitled Mar Paraguayo by Wilson Bueno. The use of portuñol has also risen on the Internet, with websites, blogs and chat rooms dedicated to the dialect.