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One Language, Many Different Dialects

I could make a whole Clients’ FAQ section just with what I get from them when I receive a new quotation request and ask them to specify what language/ dialect they refer to:

–          What do you mean, “what kind of English”?!

–          Is there actually a Swiss French?!

–          What exactly are you trying to say by “what Spanish variety”?!

History is full of examples of Empires and their colonies. One of the very results of that historical trajectory that we nowadays cope with are, in fact, , as they are usually called. These are geographical varieties, which depend on the region of the world where they are spoken. In this sense, American English differs from British English, Canadian French from Belgian French, Peruvian Spanish from Mexican Spanish, mainly in terms of the place where each is spoken.

Nevertheless, there are social, diachronic or situational varieties as well: the same exact language in the same exact place can be used differently, depending on the education level of the interlocutors, the year or generation, or the person someone addresses to. You don’t usually use the same exact Argentine Spanish when you talk to a friend and when you discuss with a teacher. in 1962, for instance, was not the same as in 2012. It was still “a gas” though…

Dialects are varieties of the same (original) language that has dynamically evolved, both in its place of origin and in the “new” one. And as a translator or translation sales account manager, it is crucial to be aware of their existence in order to be able to meet the client’s needs, not only in terms of quality, but also relevance and in the target dialect.