We learnt in last week’s blog entry ‘History of the Spanish Language’ that the Spanish language has spread across the globe along with the growth of the Spanish Empire. This progression commenced in the sixteenth century and since then different regions have placed their own character and individuality on the language.
The differences between Spanish in regions across the world can be subtle but are very important to identify. There are countries where other languages spoken within the country, both past and present, have impacted how Spanish is now spoken there.
These influences are quite broad and really do matter.
In Mexico for example, the country with the highest number of native Spanish speakers, there are many different dialects spoken. In some cases these dialects have traits from the local Aztec language Nahuatl. Argentina also has several dialects spoken throughout the country, but in their case the greatest influence comes from Europe and particularly Italy. In Equatorial Guinea, Africa, the language has influences from a number of other languages including local tribal languages, French and in some cases Portuguese.
Even Spanish spoken is Spain differs depending upon location; there are a number of dialects spoken across the country generally categorised by region. One such language variant is the Leismo dialect variation, which occurs broadly across the country itself. It involves the use of ‘le’ in place of the ‘lo’. ‘Le’ was originally used for indirect objects and ‘lo’ for direct objects but this rule has been broken so much in certain parts of Spain that ‘le’ is now also recognised as a direct object pronoun in certain situations.
These facts mean that when translating into Spanish, the language needs to be broken down by region and attention paid to the country where the language is spoken. Whether your target audience is in Spain, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico or even the USA where Spanish is not an official language, there are differences that need to be identified.
So what is done to make sure this isn’t an issue?
This is where localisation is important; it guarantees a document is appropriate for the intended audience. What this does is identify key factors that need to be taken into account with a focus on vocabulary and grammar. As outlined, the Leismo dialect variation is a good example of a grammatical consideration that must be given to Spanish translation.
In regard to vocabulary, there may be many words unique to a particular country. For example a peach in Spain is called a ‘melocotón’ while in most of Latin America it is called a ‘durazno’. This is why it is so important to do your homework and ensure you’re using the correct term. This way you’ll be sure to know your ‘móvil’ from your ‘celular’ and your audience will properly understand what you’re trying to say.