Language Concepts Has Your Spanish Localization Needs Covered
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
At Language Concepts we specialize in delivering content tailor-made for your specific needs and target markets. Localization is a service we offer beyond just language translation. Below you can discover the benefits of localization and how it can empower your company to reach deeper and more varied markets.
Translation vs Localization
Translation services and localization services are often confused. The distinction between the two, however, is very important.
What is Translation?
We like Wikipedia’s definition of translation: the communication of the full, original meaning of a text, changing phrases and sentences (not just word-by-word) into the source-language into an equivalent in the target-language text.
What is Localization?
Localization is the adaptation of written content to a specific location, region, or market. The text is full of regionalisms such as local idioms and uses a very precise, appropriate dialect to look and feel like that particular market. The localized content reads as if it had been made locally and in-country.
For example, Spanish is the official language of over 20 countries, and it is a predominant or frequently used language by populations in the United States, Belize, Andorra, Gibraltar, France, Easter Island, Philippines and some parts of Africa. With that wide global spread, there is a wide variety of how the language is used.
Just like when an English-speaking American travels to Australia and has a hard time understanding some of the local dialect and idiomatic phrases, Spanish-speakers can identify language that sounds and feels different than their local version. When doing business in these diverse markets, it can be advantageous to tweak writing to specifically match the local dialect.
How Does Localization Work?
Let us provide you with an example. Let's say that your company manufactures and sells reusable metal straws in the United States, global demand is growing and you decide to export your products to the countries of Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. It is apparent that you will need to translate contracts, agreements, marketing collaterals and even your website from English to Spanish, a natural step in this expansion process. But what type of Spanish will you choose?
When translating the materials for the United States Spanish-speaking market, your company would likely choose a Spanish translation as “neutral” or “generic” as possible to allow the greatest number of U.S. Spanish speakers to understand the content, especially given the wide-array of different Spanish-speaking nationalities present in this country.
However, that single translation into “neutral” Spanish may not be understood nor fully resonate to the specific Spanish-speaking markets of Mexico, Argentina and Spain.
In Mexico, for example, there are many words that have been adopted into the regular everyday speech from Nahuatl or Mayan terms, and there is a lot of less formal usage of the Spanish language compared to Spain’s Spanish, which is more similar to the Argentinians’ Spanish. Argentinian Spanish, due to a large wave of Italian immigrants, has been influenced by Italian words, slang, and pronunciations.
Below is a quick example of the stark differences even in a commonly used word like STRAW
Argentinian Spanish for “straw”: bombilla o sorbete
Mexican Spanish for “straw”: popote
Spanish from Spain for “straw”: pajita
Thus, it may be worth the extra time and money to your company to have the writings localized instead of just translated. In other words, you would be using Argentina’s, Mexico's and Spain's idioms, preferred words, particular colloquialisms, respectively.
Additionally, localization goes beyond important linguistics’ aspects; it involves adapting associated imagery and cultural elements, converting units of measurement and currencies, using the corresponding dates, and address and phone number formats, and considering legal and local regulations and requirements, and even local color sensitivities and gender roles. Localizing the content for Argentina would, for example, use common references to those living in that country- perhaps references to local politicians, celebrities, geography, brands, and so on.
What are the Localization Benefits?
Certainly the differences between general translation and highly specific localization are clear, but why is it worth investing in for your organization?
Some of the most important benefits of localization are:
It shows your audience and clients that you care to communicate with them in their native language and specifically native dialect
Builds your credibility as a company
Helps build loyalty as your services or products will resonate better with local audiences
Helps increase your sales
Helps your company be identified as one that is invested in the local community and speaking directly to them and their unique markets, populations, and needs
Avoiding potentially offending your audience (many Spanish words may be used in a variety of regions, but the meaning varies widely and can even change from positive to negative connotations)
Need a Final Reason?
When an American airline company wanted to translate a slogan that had worked in the US to Mexico, they simply translated the slogan.
The slogan “Fly in Leather” used to advertise its new leather first class seat became “Vuela en Cuero.”
As this slogan was used on the radio and television, people heard “Fly Naked!” instead, as “cueros'' with an “s” is Mexican slang for “naked.”
This idea could have passed in other Spanish-speaking countries, where the word for “leather” is different and not close to “naked.” But alas, the airline company had simply translated their slogan rather than localizing the slogan (AP News). Obviously there was a financial loss, from the money spent on the campaign, but the company’s image also suffered since their lack of research in their Mexican clientele became apparent.
Localization Service Companies
At Language Concepts, depending on your organization’s needs and market spread, we can put together experienced Spanish localization teams that specialize in the following regional Spanish dialects:
Costa Rican Spanish
Puerto Rican Spanish
Spanish for Spain