Going Global? Then speak the language of your audience!

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Are you considering taking your first steps in the global market, in an attempt to reach international audiences with your products or services? Then you need to speak the language of your customers, literally!

With the use of social media and the Internet, the world has become a much smaller place. Our society is globally connected and many people around the world can now access your products or services. But with the English language dominating the Web, are you sure you are not missing the opportunity to engage more people by translating your content into their own language? English might be the most common online language, however, most web users are located outside English-speaking countries.

Nelson Mandela once said that “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” and that is so true.  According to a survey conducted by Common Sense Advisory, named “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites”, 72.4% of consumers say they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language and 56.2% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. Imagine that! Data shows that localizing content for specific markets multiplies the desired selling effect substantially and people are even willing to pay more if they receive information in their own language.

So I think we got this straight. If you want to break into new markets, you need to have your content localized. Localization is obviously not the only thing you need to do to reach global audiences, but it can be a good start.

But here lies another danger! When you are dealing with business terminology, you’ll easily find out that “Google Translate” most probably won’t cover your needs. In fact, it can end up embarrassing your business and having the exact adverse effects from the ones you were hoping for. Also, specialized technical or legal terms can be baffling in your own language, let alone in a language you are not familiar with.

So how can you protect your corporate image from poorly interpreted language?

The answer is this: you should trust the services of a professional translation agency. A language services provider will use native, certified translators whose expertise matches your type of content, experienced project managers that handle large, complex and short-deadline projects and industry-leading translation/localization tools for building and maintaining translation memories, glossaries and termbases that ensure consistency, reduce human error and preserve language assets for future use. This way you can rest assured that your content is properly localized and concentrate on what you do best: your core business!

 

Confidentiality and Google Translate: not the perfect pair!

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Let me tell you a story that happened a few months back. One of our clients, a major law firm sent us a super confidential merger agreement in English regarding a merger/acquisition of one of their clients. Over the phone, our client couldn’t stress enough the confidential and secretive nature of this agreement and the fact that it should be treated with discretion and utmost caution. He pointed out that this shouldn’t leak to the press before the official press release and that a failure to properly protect that information could lead to many legal issues.

After making sure that we had a properly signed NDA with the client into place, he asked whether we have signed NDA agreements with our vendors and linguists, which we did. The client, being a lawyer himself, wanted to have every legal aspect covered (or so he thought!).

Then, having made sure that their file will be treated by our company with the level of confidentiality that he demanded, he dropped THE BOMB.

We were having a discussion regarding the parts of the document that they wanted translated (since the agreement was over 300 pages and they wouldn’t need all of them translated) and then he mentioned that in order to get a rough idea of some legal clauses, he uploaded the file to Google Translate.

Yes, you heard right. Google Translate!

After being so cautious with everything else, he uploaded the confidential agreement to the INTERNET.

Many people around the world use Google Translate daily but very few of them are aware of the Google Terms of Service mentioned below:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content”

While the specific agreement will probably not (or should not at least!) become public, he has clearly disclosed and stored his customer’s confidential content to a server under the control of a third party, and therefore clearly breaching his own privacy commitments.

After mentioning this story to friends and family, we came to the conclusion that our client wasn’t the only one that was unaware of the consequences that could follow the use of this online service and this is why we decided to share this story. As for our client, we suggested (and are exploring) alternative, privately owned machine translation software options, as we don’t believe he will ever use public software like Google Translate for his work, ever again. After knowing all the facts, would you trust your work on Google Translate?

 

Why is Desktop Publishing important for translations?

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

If you have ever requested translation services, there is a good chance that there was an extra charge for DTP services in your quote. But what is DTP and why is it so important for translations?

DTP stands for Desktop Publishing and is the creation of documents using page layout skills. In a translation context, DTP comes after the translation, editing and proofreading stage and it is the formatting of the localized text in order to match the source text.

No matter how good the translation quality is, a file with truncations, layout inconsistencies or even small typos can seriously affect the image of your brand. This is even more important when we are talking about high visibility content such as Marketing Brochures, Packaging, Instructions for Use, Newsletters etc.

Today, DTP can be performed on a number of different source files such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW files and more.

Depending on the file format, the DTP stage can include the following:

  • Layout check of localized document to insure it reflects styles, format, layout guidelines, fonts etc. of source language documents
  • Check for untranslated text on images or in the body
  • Check for proper hyperlink functionality
  • Check for no cut-off translations or hidden/overlapping text behind images
  • Αdjusting the layout to accommodate text expansion/reduction
  • Formatting of bullets, numbering, boxes, graphics etc.
  • Capturing localized graphics/screenshots to be included in an e.g. localized user guide
  • Localizing graphics, including translation and editing in the appropriate application (e.g. Photoshop, etc.).
  • Regenerating the Table of contents

After the DTP stage and depending on the document, usually another step follows.

This is the Linguistic Sign-Off (LSO) and during that step we make sure that the final localized and formatted file is checked by another pair of eyes to ensure correctness in both language and layout. After that step, the created file is ready to print/use.

You might be asking yourself; why should I have the translation company perform the dtp? We have an inhouse designing team at my company, can’t they do it?

The answer is simple. The DTP specialists working at translation companies are experienced in handling multilingual content. They are trained in using multiple platforms and file formats in multiple languages and scripts. They can easily handle European languages, double-byte Asian languages as well as right-to-left languages such as Arabic or Hebrew. Your designers might feel reluctant to hand off the designing work to a translation agency but it is important to understand that not all designers are qualified to work in other languages. Not being familiar with the norms and conventions of a language can create more confusion and mistakes. Instead of saving time and money, this can result in more expenses for your company. Moreover, as previously mentioned, after the DTP stage the language service provider will pass on the file to a linguist for a final linguistic check, making sure that the final file looks and feels as if it was initially created for the intended target language market.

Translation Studies vs. Translation Agency Workspace: Two Different Worlds of Translation

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by Yiannis Nistas, Translator at Commit

Have you ever wondered what are the differences between studying translation and working at a translation agency? Like most professions, learning a science/art/trade is worlds apart from actually practicing it in real life and having to deal with actual clients. We will lay out the primary differences by focusing on three main aspects: communication, accountability and deadlines.

Communication

Talking to your classmates is not the same as addressing your colleagues, clients and vendors. At the university, which is an informal setting, students are accustomed to a more relaxed way of communication. They can talk to each other in a more direct way. On the other hand, at the workplace, people have to stick to a certain level of formality and politeness.

In addition, at the university you do not get to deal with clients or vendors. At a translation company, the employees, especially project managers, have to interact with people from all over the world. This task is quite demanding, because communication is in English and, most of the time, between non-native speakers. A project manager has to get as many information on a project as they can in a polite and respectful manner, by email or telephone.

In a nutshell, courtesy and formality are not as important in the simulated working environment of a university as they are in the actual workplace.

Accountability

A translation student can have multiple failures without experiencing any major consequences. Except, of course, for a drop in their grades. This lack of accountability gives students more freedom to experiment and be more creative with their translations and try new ways of expression, which is not necessarily bad. The university should leave room for trial and error as a means for improvement. Students should be encouraged to explore new ways of rendering words and conveying messages into their target language.

Unlike studying translation, working as a professional means that each and every linguist as well as the agency as a whole are accountable towards their clients. A failure might mean no future projects from the affected client to the agency, and this will also have direct consequences to the employees. As a result, experimentation must be put aside and priority must be given on the standardization of translation work along with the strict observance of the clients’ instructions.

Deadlines

When studying translation, the main objective is to hand back quality translations––i.e. target text with natural flow, translation based on research, and correct terminology. In that context, the turnaround time plays a secondary role. However, this is not the case at an actual work environment. The language service providers are asked to provide top-quality translations within a limited timeframe and make sure that all the clients’ instructions, style guides, glossaries, reference material, etc. are taken into account. In real life, in order to be successful you need to have the perfect combination between quick turnaround times and uncompromised quality.

The University will prepare the students for some of the challenges they will face in the work environment but not for all of them. While its purpose is to show the correct path and the right way of practicing a profession, there are some aspects that one will figure out only by actually working under real conditions, like working under pressure, working as part of a team, taking responsibility and carrying the burden of one’s mistakes.

Common misconceptions about translation and localization

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by Vasso Pouli, Customer Operations at Commit

Have you ever requested translation services? When you did for the first time, did you know what was involved in what you were asking? Translation is commonly misunderstood for something any speaker of a language, native or foreign, can do on the fly. However, this is far from true. Here are some common misconceptions clients usually are under when it comes to translation, the industry and its professionals.

KNOWLEDGE ASSUMPTIONS

  1. Anyone can do a translation or assess a translation piece as long as they know or speak the language.

Not really! In order to transfer the subtleties and nuances of a language system into another, in-depth knowledge of linguistics is required, just the ability to speak the language does not suffice. After all, the Americans have said it best as, according to Illinois state law, it is illegal to speak English, and the officially recognized language is “American.”

  1. Translators are walking dictionaries; if they know what they are doing, they should be able to come up with a complex term over the phone and they can translate 20 pages in a couple of hours. After all, translating “apple” and translating “methyl tertiary-butyl ether” is the same thing, if you are a professional translator.

If that were true, translators would be the richest people in the market. Allow for reasonable time for translation requests. Translation is a complex process which, besides knowledge, requires time for familiarizing with content, for terminology search, to allow creativity to work, to review and to finalize a piece of writing.

ASSESSMENT ASSUMPTIONS

  1. The translation you’ll get back will be completely in tune with the style and attitude you happen to have in mind at that particular time; the translator should be able to know what’s in your mind.

How easier translating would be if that was possible! There are so many different ways one can say something that it is highly unlikely that the translator will choose the one you have in mind. Localization is a highly collaborative process that requires the guidance and insight of the customer and content owner, at least in the beginning, so that the desired result is achieved.

  1. I do not have to be involved in the process.

Wrong! To elaborate further on point 3, each piece of text, even the seemingly simplest one, may present challenges when it comes to being transferred to a different language and the translation professional is faced with many choices word after word; it would be helpful to have the customer’s guidance as to the preferred options regarding certain issues.

  1. Everything that is not to my liking in the translated text is a mistake.

Do leave a margin for doubt! Language professionals, assuming you are indeed collaborating with a qualified professional, possess in-depth knowledge in the various aspects of the language. Before hurrying into accusations like “this is like Google Translate”, do express your concerns to the translator and see what they have to say about it. More often than not, you should be fully covered with their explanation.

COST ASSUMPTIONS

  1. Translation is just a necessary evil in the world of globalization. It is simply an additional expense without any additional value and which one should limit as much as possible.

Wrong! In a world where local markets are quite saturated, competition is fierce and entering new markets is the obvious profitable choice, translation & localization is the only way for products to be established in foreign markets, as consumers seem to prefer buying products whose collateral is written in their native language.

  1. Translation is unjustifiably overpriced.

Translation involves much more than just looking up or translating words in another language. It is about transferring meanings and intentions, explicit and implicit, assessing appropriateness, exploring alternatives to find the most suitable one, searching into various resources and evaluating the validity and correctness of the findings, putting one’s creativity and imagination to work in order to rise to the level of the text’s circumstances, it demands dedication and perseverance and being 100% accountable for one’s choices. So, NO! Instead, those at the other end of the line, namely the professionals of this industry, would say that it is quite the opposite!

 

ELIA Networking Days Lyon – in review!

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The latest edition of ELIA Networking Days took place in beautiful Lyon. What made the event special was the fact that it was ELIA’s 10th anniversary and it was celebrated accordingly. Amongst other events, the 10th anniversary dinner was held at the Abbaye de Collonges, “powered” by the famous chef Paul Bocuse! The conference itself took place at the Lyon Convention Centre with session rooms providing a beautiful view over the river Rhone and the adjacent park.

Sessions covered lots of topics related to the translation and localization industry, with tracks ranging from Technology to Life Sciences, and from Business Management to Smart Sales. As always, here’s our quick list of takeaways from the event.

  • Clio Schils, in a double session, shared her vast experience and talked about the future of life sciences. Some amazing things are in store for life sciences; M-health is here and taking over! As for LSPs:
    • The higher the risk (of the medical/pharma product etc.), the more documentation there is to be translated.
    • Follow regulatory news if you want to provide some added value service to your clients.
  • Anita Wilson described how to leverage transcreation as a service. A few “tweets” that stood out:
    • Translating “I’m loving it” for McDonalds should cost a lot more than €0.30. Doesn’t it cost tens of thousands just to create the motto?
    • Marketing translation is not a service to be charged on a per word rate.
    • Do you transcreate images? Make sure to replace small boats with big yachts when targeting rich countries!
  • Sabrina Ferrari talked not only about the importance of KPIs but also how to leverage them for marketing and sales purposes. Have you thought of including KPIs in your company collateral? For example, your customer retention rate could be a key selling point!
  • Gerry Lynch described the experience of doing business in the US, lots of interesting (to say the least) stories. Merging with a local company was the best solution he said. And if you are worried about the city you pick, just look if there is competition around. If so, then opportunities are there, as well as resources.
  • Doug Strock provided ideas about diversifying your business. Be careful though not to damage your brand when adding a new service to your portfolio.
  • In a session-turned-workshop, Britta Weber tackled the ever-challenging topic of customer complaints. When a customer complains, your first reaction is important! Talk slowly, say your name, and reduce aggression.
  • Matthias Ceasar provided insight coming from years of personal experience as to the growing pains of an LSP, and what is the perfect size, if there is one. The conclusion? There is no right or wrong, it depends on how you see yourself in the future. “Success comes with maturity and curiosity”.
  • Tony O’Dowd and Jeff Allen – besides providing music during the dinner – pointed out how the cloud provides opportunities to small companies and how minority languages can be leveraged as a business proposition respectively.

Finally, in an inspiring keynote speech, Ralph Blundell addressed the topic of “Ethics as a business differentiator”.

  • Positive stories are your most powerful marketing tool.
  • Nobody really works for the money (!) If you do so you would become a drug dealer!
  • Moderation is necessary: excess is always damaging. There is an optimum size and growth for everything. If only more people applied it in everyday life!

Happy Birthday ELIA and thank you for a wonderful conference! Next ND stop: Krakow, October 1-3, 2015. See you there!

 

How to find the localization partner that is right for your business

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Finding the right localization partner can be a challenge, but is also crucial for your business as it reflects on the quality of your products. But, how can you ensure that you’re buying top quality services when you are not familiar with a language and cannot evaluate the results yourself? Below you can find a few tips that will help you streamline the whole process and make the right choices.

  1. Set specific criteria – Determine your budget, the languages you’ll need localization services for, the overall volume of your project, the timeframe etc. Once you have a clear understanding of the requirements and expectations your localization partner should meet, it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.
  2. Ask for references and information – After selecting a couple of potential providers based on the above criteria, ask them for references and detailed information on their experience in the specific field (e.g. translated volumes, end clients from the same industry, type of translated content). It is also advisable to ask for a sample translation and have this checked by a third-party; it is a small additional cost that can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
  3. Look out for hidden costs – Cost is always a decisive factor when making a business decision, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Although lower prices can be attractive, they can prove to be really expensive at the end. A higher rate that includes not merely translation, but editing and proofreading as well, or even project management, e.g. file preparation and formatting, may actually represent a more reliable and cost-effective solution for your business, as it will not only ensure high quality but it will also help you save time and resources.
  4. Take value-added services into consideration – If you have difficulty choosing between two equally qualified providers, with similar financial proposals, the value-added services they offer can play a decisive role. For example, if you’re looking to localize a software application, it would be best to work with a partner that can handle both linguistic and functional testing. Or, if you’re localizing your product brochures, why spend your time and effort looking for a DTP expert, when your localization partner can offer you the same services?

In short, while it may seem that finding the right partner can be a time-consuming and arduous task, it is well worth it. Consider it an investment that will keep on giving for many year to come, offering you all the benefits that come from a successful partnership!

How is transcreation different from translation?

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Transcreation is a term used by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. A successfully transcreated message evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language. Increasingly, transcreation is used in global marketing and advertising campaigns as advertisers seek to transcend the boundaries of culture and language.

Terms with meanings similar to transcreation include “creative translation”, “cross-market copywriting”, “international copy adaptation”, “marketing translation” and “cultural adaptation”. For each of these words and phrases, the thrust is similar: taking the essence of a message and re-creating it in another language or dialect. [1]

But isn’t this what translation is all about? The answer is NO.

Translation and transcreation might be similar processes but they are not identical.

The purpose of translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text.[2] A good translation takes into account the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, idiom and local usage of the target audience while remaining faithful to the text, and context, of the original document.

Transcreation expands upon translation by focusing not so much on the literal text, but on taking a concept in one language, and completely recreating it in another, trying to evoke the same feelings and responses to viewers as the original text. Transcreation services also include consultation and feedback on the appearance and the graphic design of a creative message, document, website, campaign ensuring that it is suitable for the target local market.

Transcreation is usually performed by native professional copywriters instead of translators. Copywriters are responsible for telling the story, crafting it in such a way that it resonates with the reader, ideally producing an emotional response. Of course, there are also translators with great experience in marketing translations and have an inclination towards creative writing and they can also be used in transcreation projects.

Like all marketing projects, transcreation starts with a creative brief. The client will have to work very closely with the transcreator and provide very clear ideas regarding the target audience, the purpose of the text and the outcome they want to achieve. Unlike translation, where the linguist is just provided with an original text, in transcreation, the transcreator/copywriter receives a complete creative brief with marketing directions.

Since every project is unique, there is no safe way to say which project categories require transcreation. When such need arises, you should work closely with your translation management team to decide whether your project is a candidate for transcreation or a simple translation would be sufficient to deliver your message in the target language.

[1] Source:Wikipedia

[2] Source:Wikipedia

The Importance of Accuracy in Medical translations

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Grammatical errors and inaccurate translations can jeopardize any company’s image and reputation, but when it comes to the medical industry, where inaccuracy may have direct effect on patients’ lives, quality and accuracy are not just important, they are imperative.

Medical translation is defined as the translation of technical, regulatory, clinical or marketing documentation, software or training curriculum for the pharmaceutical, medical device or healthcare fields. Most countries in the world require that documents and labelling associated with medical devices or pharmaceuticals be translated into the country’s national language to ensure the safety of the patients using them. You see, when the safety of a patient depends on understanding of directions, clear communication and the correct operation of medical devices, there is no room for errors and misunderstandings.

Because of this highly technical, sensitive and regulated nature of medical texts, there has been a need for translators and interpreters who not only have linguistic skills but are subject-matter experts in a specific medical field. These translators meet the industry’s strict scientific and linguistic criteria and produce translated content to guarantee that medical device software, documentation, and marketing texts will be understood without errors by all users, patients and physicians. The use of non-professional and non-expert translators could have particularly dire consequences on multiple levels: it could negatively impact the corporate image of a company, it could result in the clinical trial failure of a drug or a vaccine or in worst cases, it could put a patient’s life/health at risk.

To prove that, we are going to give you an example of how the wrong translation of a single word by a non-professional resulted in a medical malpractice compensation of $71 million.

Many of you might be familiar with the story of the 18-year old Willie Ramirez. Back in 1980, Willie was admitted to a Florida hospital in a comatose state. His family, who only spoke Spanish, described his condition to the paramedics as “intoxicado”. Translation was provided by a bilingual staff member who translated “intoxicado” as “intoxicated”. Among Cubans, “intoxicado” is kind of an umbrella term that means there’s something wrong with you because of something you ate or drank, a meaning closer to the term “poisoned”. A professional translator or interpreter would have known that despite the similarity of the two words, the Spanish word is NOT equivalent to the English word “intoxicated”, that implies alcohol or drug use. His family believed he was suffering from food poisoning, while he was actually suffering from an intracerebral hemorrhage. The doctors believed he was suffering from an intentional drug overdose, which can lead to some of the symptoms he displayed. Because of the delay in his treatment, Ramirez was left quadriplegic.

OK, this example might be extreme, but it shows how important it is for the translator/interpreter to fully understand medical terminology in both languages.  It is imperative that the translations are as precise as possible so that the patient receives the proper care. In each medical translation project, the linguist should make sure that:

  • he/she fully understands the source text and the medical terminology used,
  • all instructions and directions are communicated correctly,
  • all content is properly localized to the target language and culture,

because when it comes to medical translations and human safety, one single word can make a great difference.

Essentials for translation into Spanish markets

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by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Approximately 406 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it second only to Mandarin in terms of its number of native speakers worldwide. It also has 60 million speakers as a second language, and 20 million students as a foreign language.

According to 2006 census data, 44.3 million people of the U.S. population were Hispanic or Latin American by origin; 38.3 million people, 13 percent, of the population speak Spanish at home.

Also, Spanish is by far the most widely taught second language in the country, and with over 50 million total speakers, the United States is now the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico.

Spanish might be one language with a strong basic common core supported by a common cultural and literary tradition, but there are many differences between the various linguistic regions in the Spanish-speaking world.

In a broad sense, Spanish can be grouped into:

Peninsular Spanish:

  • Castilian (This term applies to the official Spanish language, spoken in northern and central Spain)
  • Andalusian (This dialect, spoken in southern Spain, is the second-most popular in the country after Castilian)
  • Canarian (Canary Islands)
  • There we should also mention that there are 4 other official languages spoken in Spain: Catalan, Basque, Galician and Aranese.

Latin American Spanish:

  • Mexican (The variety with the most speakers is Mexican Spanish. It is spoken by more than 20% of the world’s Spanish speakers)
  • Caribbean (Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, northern Colombia and Caribbean Mexico).
  • Andean-Pacific (Peru, Ecuador, western Bolivia, Colombia and western Venezuela).
  • Rio de la Plata (Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay)
  • Chilean
  • Central American (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala)

The main differences between these dialects occur in three areas:

  • pronunciation
  • grammar and
  • vocabulary

Pronunciation

Pronunciation might not be important to translation but it is crucial for media, film, video dubbing. For example, early imported sound films were dubbed into one version for the entire Spanish-speaking market. Currently, films not originally in Spanish (usually Hollywood productions) are dubbed separately into two accents: one for Spain and other for Latin America (using a Mexican or Puerto Rican accent without regionalisms). Some high-budget productions, however, such as the Harry Potter film series, have had dubs in three or more of the major accents.

We come across 2 major linguistic phenomena when it comes to the pronunciation of Spanish.

  1. El seseo – This is the difference between the maintenance or the loss of distinction in the phonemes /θ/ and /s/
  2. El yeísmo – the maintenance or loss of distinction between phonemes represented orthographically by ll (elle) and y (ye)

Grammar

Virtually all dialects of Spanish make the distinction between a formal and a familiar register in the second-person singular, and thus have two different pronouns meaning “you”: usted in the formal, and either tú or vos is the familiar (and each of these three pronouns has its associated verb forms), with the choice of tú or vos varying from one dialect to another. Tú is used in Castillian Spanish, vos is used in Latin American Spanish.

Vocabulary

The difference between Spanish dialects is mostly visible in the vocabulary.

Spanish is rich in regional terms to refer to an urban bus: you may hear colectivo in Argentina and Venezuela, ómnibus in Perú and Uruguay, micro in Chile, camión in Mexico and parts of Central America and guagua in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but every Spanish speaker knows what an autobús is.

Many dialects, such as Mexican Spanish have borrowed words from indigenous languages of the Americas, such as the Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Among these words are many names for food, plants and animals, clothes, and household objects, such as the following:

Word English translation
camote sweet potato
pipián stew
chapulín grasshopper
huipil blouse

Also, American Spanish tends to borrow words directly from English often leaving the spelling of the word intact. For example, when referring to a computer in Latin America, they speak of la computadora while in Spain it’s el ordenador.

In addition to loan words, there are a number of Spanish words that have developed distinct senses in different regional dialects. The everyday Spanish word coger (‘to take’) are considered extremely rude in parts of Latin America, where the meaning of coger is also “to have sex”.

Mutual comprehension

Nevertheless, the different dialects and accents do not block cross-understanding. There is a kind of neutral, standard Spanish (also called International Spanish) which is used and understood by all educated Spanish speakers and ensures that people throughout the Spanish-speaking world can communicate with each other as easily as people from Britain and the United States can. This standard tends to disregard local grammatical, phonetic and lexical peculiarities and preserves certain verb tenses considered “bookish” or archaic in most other dialects. Standard Spanish is the preferred form in formal settings, and is considered indispensable in academic and literary writing and the media. Standard Spanish could work with highly cultural or academic texts but it is not suitable for marketing and advertising texts.

The problem is that it is not an actual language and it is generally addressed to an educated audience.

Entering Spanish Markets

So, what should the client do when it comes to translating content for Spanish markets?

-First of all, it is useful to know where the translation will be used in order to adapt terminology to a specific variant, whenever that is possible. If it is not possible, then it is advised to look for the most neutral option, which could be the Mexican variant. Then the client should determine who the target audience is going to be and what is the actual purpose of the translation.

-Also, it is important that the client (or the translation company in charge!) uses local resources for the translation, people that speak the dialect in question and preferably people living in the specific area where the dialect is spoken.

-Another important point is the internationalization of the source text. In case the source file needs to be localized into various languages, it would be very helpful to use a simpler source for the translation, a source text that is easier to adapt to other languages.