How to Choose the Right Spanish for your Translations
Congratulations! If you are reading this article, you have clearly decided to serve your Spanish-speaking customers in their language of preference, or you have decided to tap into this important market segment. If you are engaged in international commerce, choosing the right Spanish for your translation is a no-brainer. If your target audience is in Mexico, you would want to use Mexican Spanish. If it is in Peru, you would want to use Peruvian Spanish. And so on and so forth. If you would like to serve or target the Hispanics living in the USA, choosing the right Spanish is a different story and could seem like a daunting task. There are an estimated 55 million Hispanics in the USA as of March 2016, all from a range of Spanish-speaking countries. So which dialect should you choose?
Below are two questions for your consideration that will help you make a confident decision: 1. What are you translating? Do you need a Spanish translation of a financial document? Are you in need of a Spanish translation of a legal contract? Or are you translating the marketing flier or website of your grocery store? The type of subject matter will make a difference. The first two cases, for example, call for so-called neutral Spanish, which is very easy to achieve. In other words, a version of Spanish without regionalisms. This is because highly specialized terminology is mainly universal in Spanish. Moreover, it sometimes borrows English terms. The difference among Spanish variations is also minor in other technical fields such as medicine and chemistry. On the other hand, if you work in the food and beverage industry and your materials contain names of, say, fruits and vegetables, achieving a neutral Spanish would not be possible as many Spanish-speaking countries use different names for the same item. For example, “avocado” is “palta” in Peru and “aguacate” in Mexico, to name just a few. In this case, you will have to choose the Spanish corresponding to a specific region or country, which brings us to our second question. 2. Where are you deploying your Spanish materials? Nationwide? Or will you do a phased rollout and pick some states first? This is important to know how to choose the right Spanish for your translations. According to the 2016 census, California has the largest Hispanic population - an estimated 15 million - followed by Texas and Florida. It is also known that Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Texas have a high concentration of Hispanics. If your materials are to be used in California, for example, it would be a good idea to use Mexican Spanish since most Spanish speakers in that state are of Mexican heritage. You would need a different dialect if your materials are intended for Florida, however, where an overwhelming number of Spanish speakers hail from the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Finally, you need to determine if you will be using the formal address (usted) or informal address (tú). Usually, context dictates the choice. Legal and financial documents should retain a formal structure and the recommendation would be to use the formal address (usted). However, the informal address (“tú”) has recently become the norm in advertising and we see banks, insurance companies and credit cards companies addressing their prospective client as “tú” even if they belong to an older demographic. Usted versus Tú is a decision that you need to make as part of your marketing strategy. For marketing, we always recommend keeping the end customer in mind. If the materials are intended for an older public, we would recommend the formal address. If the target audience is young, the informal address would be a better choice. We hope that you find this information useful. Feel free to give us a call or drop us an email if you have any inquiries regarding your translation needs in Spanish, and we would be happy to assist you. Language Concepts Consulting LLC is a boutique provider of professional translation and graphic design services to organizations of all sizes and industries across the United States. We specialize in English to Spanish translations and translations to Asian languages. We offer comprehensive and certified translation services to advertising agencies, educational institutions, financial and insurance companies, food and beverage companies, market research companies, medical and health care providers, nutraceutical and direct selling organizations, media and marketing companies, television networks, among others.