Different Dialects for Translation for Spanish Speaking Immigrants

Spanish is used by about 437 million people which makes it the world’s second most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese. Twenty one countries list Spanish as their national language. Most Spanish speakers live in Central and South America (Mexico alone has a population of 100 million!). No wonder it’s so important to provide proper translation for Spanish speaking immigrants.

However, each Spanish-speaking country or region has its own variant of this language. It is important to know there are different types of Spanish in order to resonate with your target audience. If you want to reach customers from places like Argentina, Spain, or Costa Rica,  you will need to take into account these variations.

For example, the word “computer” in Spain translates to “ordenador” while in Latin American countries it is “computadora.” The computer mouse in Spain is “ratón” (Spanish word for mouse), whereas in Latin America it is simply referred to as “mouse.”

From a grammatical point of view, the obvious difference between Spanish in Spain and in Latin America is with the use of the “you” pronouns: people in Spain use the informal pronouns “Tú” (singular) and “Vosotros” (plural) but not the speakers in Latin American countries. Instead they use pronouns “Usted” and “Ustedes” whereas in Spain these pronouns are reserved for formal situations.

Of course the same is true for many other languages, not just Spanish. In the US we live in apartments, take an elevator, and use flashlights whereas the British live in flats, take a lift, and use a torch. Some words however, can cause quite a stir when pitched at the wrong target audience.

A few years back an American pizza chain rolled out a new jalapeño and pepperoni pizza called “La Chingona” which, at best means “badass” but also has a more common connotation that is sexually explicit in Mexican culture. Almost a quarter of chain restaurants refused to sell the pizza because of this connotation. Spanish radio stations pulled the commercials off the air while others blipped the name throughout the duration of the commercial. To address this, the company did a little bit of self-censorship and changed the name by calling it “La Ch!#gona” in some print ads.

All that trouble could have been avoided if the marketing team reached out to localization experts!

In other words – make sure your content is translated and localized to the Spanish (or any other language) spoken by the customers you want to reach.

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