Spanish Translation: The Dilemma Of Its Rich Colorful Varieties

by Florencia de la Torre - Interpro's Argentina Office Lead & Spanish Translator

Spanish translation and its dilemma

Spanish translation has many varieties, even though a language is a peoples' cultural identity. You may immediately think that the whole Spanish-speaking world is under one unique Spanish language umbrella, you'll be surprised to learn that there is no single Spanish.

The Spanish varieties are something to take into account when using Spanish translation services to localize product brochures, websites, software, documents, and the like into Spanish. Whether you are targeting the US Hispanic market or the Latin American market, Spanish localization  is unique, country to country.

Spanish language origin

The Spanish language originated in the Iberian Peninsula, at the southwestern tip of Europe. Long time after, in the eighth century, Spain was invaded by the Moors, who brought with them their Arabic culture and language. They ruled the peninsula during eight long centuries and left their mark everywhere and in particular on Spanish language. Many Spanish words which begin with al —Arabic for "the"— are derived from Arabic, e.g. almohada (pillow), albañil (mason), and albaricoque (apricot).

Spanish language expansion

The greatest cultural impact on Spanish came after Spain colonized the New World since during the subsequent four centuries, Spanish spread from California in North America to Tierra del Fuego at the most southern tip of South America. Therefore, unlike most other languages, Spanish is spoken in many different countries. Some of which are next to each other and others much farther apart. This occurrence has a strong impact on the language, giving rise to Spanish varieties depending on the geographical area, i.e. Latin American Spanish, Iberian Spanish, Mexican Spanish, U.S. domestic Spanish, and more.

What Spanish do you speak?

It's true that Spanish speakers can mostly understand each other even with the different language varieties spoken; however, when you are targeting a specific audience, it is very important to speak to them with their own unique voice.

A Mexican user who navigates to a tool manufacturing website localized into Spanish may feel as if you are not speaking "his language" if you translate screwdrivers as destornilladores since the usual word for screwdrivers in Mexico is desarmadores.

When you go to the grocery store in Argentina, Uruguay, or Chile, you go to the almacén; and to the bodega in Peru; but be careful because a bodega in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile is a wine cellar!

If you want to eat a cake, you should ask for a torta in Argentina, a queque in Bolivia, and a tarta in Spain. If you need a t-shirt, remember to ask for a remera in Argentina and a polera in Chile; don't ask the other way round because a polera in Argentina means a turtleneck.

If you are doing business in Cuba, you will find many language nuances specifically for the Cuba region.

These examples are only some of the many words that have different meanings based on the Spanish speaking country or geographical area. So much so that a Spanish Academy emerged in each country, including the Argentine Spanish Language Academy, the Philippine Spanish Language Academy, the Mexican Spanish Language Academy, and the North American Academy of Spanish Language.

Today there are twenty-two Spanish academies gathered together under the Association of Academies of Spanish Language in order to work side by side in the unification of the great legacy that is Spanish.

Language is a serious business

Having highlighted the importance of word choice, more than ever language localization services are a must if you want to successfully reach your target market.

Just because you may have native Spanish speaking employees at your company, does not mean that they are the right person to write the content of your company website. Anyone who is able to speak can write, but without any previous professional training and experience, it may be difficult to understand the complexities of writing content for the website. Spanish translation has a similar concept. A native speaker may not understand the complexities of the language or have the same experience as linguists do to properly localize your content.

Leave Spanish translation services to the professionals! Interpro Translation Solutions is a localization agency that will gather the right information about your target market to ensure that your image is projected appropriately in every region.