The only guide you need for translating Spanish

Translating from and to Spanish requires professional translators with proper training. It involves not only working with words but also with language and meaning.

I. 8 Types Of Spanish For Translations

US Spanish: 

The US has more Spanish speakers than Spain. Yes, it’s a fact! It has been around in America since the 15th century, but now, the US community uses mainly Mexican Spanish. Other dialects are also spoken in America, such as the ones in the eastern coastal states and New Mexican Spanish.

European Spanish: 

This is a broad term that refers to Spanish used in continental Spain and the Spanish islands. Some people also call it ‘Spanish of Spain’.

Castilian Spanish: 

It developed from Latin after the Roman conquest of Spain. By the 15th century, Castilian Spanish had become the main dialect in the peninsula. Later, it became the language of the Spanish Empire in the New World. This is the reason why you may hear some people refer to Spanish as ‘castellano’ instead of ‘español’.

Andalusian Spanish: 

It includes the dialects from Andalusia and Gibraltar, Ceuta, Melilla. Most Latin American Spanish dialects are thought to be based on Western Andalusian Spanish. In fact, the use of ‘ustedes’ instead of ‘vosotros’ for the second person plural, as well as the use of seseo are features of both Latin American and Andalusian Spanish.

Murcian Spanish: 

Murcian Spanish is a variety spoken in the Comunidad Autónoma de Murcia. It is popular in the capital city, Murcia and towns like Cartagena, Yecla, Jumilla, Lorca, Calasparra etc.

Canarian Spanish: 

It is the dialect from the Canary Islands. It is quite similar to Western Andalusian Spanish and to Caribbean Spanish.

Latin American Spanish: 

‘Latin American Spanish’ is an umbrella term because Latin American countries present fewer variations in respect to one another than they do to Spain. However, each country within Latin America presents a characteristic dialect of its own.

Caribbean Spanish: 

When you know that the colonists who settled in the Caribbean islands were largely from the Canary Islands and Andalusia, the similarities between Caribbean, Andalusian, and Canarian Spanish start to make sense. The similarities include phonetic features, syntax, morphology, and vocabulary.

Rioplatense Spanish: 

The main features of Rioplatense Spanish are: intonation influenced by Italian, voseo, sheísmo and loanwords from German, French, Italian, and English.

Equatoguinean Spanish: 

It is the variety of Spanish spoken in Equatorial Guinea. It is more related to European Spanish than to Latin American Spanish in terms of pronunciation. Some of its vocabulary has been influenced by German immigration and of native Guineans.

II. 5 tips for translating Spanish

1. Understand and Adapt to Cultural Differences

A common difference lies in directness between Spanish-speaking communities and English speaking-communities. According to anthropologist Edward Hall’s theory, some cultures such as the United States, prefer more direct messages and a great deal of explicit information defined in the text rather than subtle or implicit cues.

By contrast, there are cultures, such as those where Roman languages are spoken, communicate much more between the lines. Thus, if you want to produce culturally appropriate translations, these cultural differences need to be taken into consideration.

2. Notice that Spanish is Longer than English

English has a higher grammatical density than Spanish. This means that you will produce about 25% longer text in Spanish to transmit the same message originally written in English.

This is important for design and character limitation, for example, when choosing the copies on a website or an app, you need to allow more characters and space for headers, buttons, etc. if you want them translated into Spanish.

3. Aware of the Ambiguity that Language-Specific Grammatical Features Can Cause

Pro-drop refers to when some languages are able to omit subject pronouns. Pro-drop languages allow for pronoun omission when the semantic subject can be contextually inferred. In Spanish, for example, you can say “cocino” (I cook) instead of “yo cocino”, because the verb “cocino” encodes the subject.

It may cause ambiguity when translating from Spanish to English with little context. This is because some verb inflections in Spanish are the same for more than one grammatical subject. Thus, correctly inferring the subject of the sentence when there is not enough context requires very much cognitive effort and even making assumptions.

4. Be Careful with Gendered Words

Spanish nouns have genders. There is an indicating article (“el” or “la”) to reflect this. “Book,” for example, is “el libro” (masculine) whereas library is “la biblioteca” (feminine).

When it comes to naming an individual animate noun whose gender we do not know, the “default” gender in Spanish is the masculine. For example, “the user”, will probably be translated as “el usuario” (masculine form) but will mean all users whether male or female. 

A lot of brands have started avoiding gendered words whenever possible to stay away from sexism in language.

5. Choose the Right Dialect for Your Translations

As mentioned above, there are several Spanish dialects all over the world and you do need to choose one dialect for your translations.

Your choice can affect the cost and the effectiveness of translated content. Therefore, you need professional linguists who understand both languages and the cultural nuances within each of them to advise you. 

If you need to translate into Spanish, give us a call today!

Fun facts about Spanish language

  • Spanish is the Third Most Popular Language of the Internet
  • The Vowel “e” is the Most Used Letter in the Spanish Language
  • Mexico is The Largest Spanish-Speaking Country
  • Spanish is Part of the Indo-European Family of Languages