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Spanish Translation in the United States

It is fair to say that is the U.S. is divided equally between the domestic and international market. These markets each have their own idiosyncrasies that represent only one aspect of the language problem in the United States.

U.S. based translations face a very different situation from that experienced by markets in other . On the one hand is the domestic market, where the target audience is highly heterogeneous, submerged in bilingual media and at times with low educational level. This is a population that innocently uses Spanglish. On the other hand is the international one, in which translations can be aimed at any of the 22 countries of the Hispanic world, or to all countries equally.

The U.S. market makes the process more difficult for the and the translation company. Typically, translations into Spanish need to have very specific guidelines or the translation can be plagued with differences. Translators from different backgrounds tend to use different terms and forms of expression. Reason why it is so important to keep in mind that Spanish speakers often react strongly to the use of words that are not common in their countries. Of course all this has a solution: if translators work with a glossary and a style manual, customers will ultimately receive a satisfactory translation.

However, the Spanish language is basically the same for all countries. The most noticeable differences between the various forms of expression in Spanish are at the level of speech. The lower the educational level of the speaker, the more pronounced is the difference of expression. But no matter what dialect is used, if it is written in good basic Spanish, any Spanish speaker will understand it.

Having said that, it is important to recognize the idiosyncrasies of the market. For example, when translating for a U.S. audience, numerals should be the same as in English. That is, one dollar and fifty cents is written one point fifty and not one comma fifty. The reason for this is obvious: U.S. Spanish speakers live in a world that expresses decimal points with a period and not a comma as in their countries of origin. Changing it would be extremely confusing and may even cause lawsuits. Moreover, some Latin American countries are increasingly adopting the decimal separator. For example: Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Puerto Rico.


The most troubling aspect of the U.S. market is Spanglish. In short, it is the use of English words and, in many cases, combined with an English syntax. Requests to translate in Spanglish already exist in the market. This is obviously for marketing purposes to reach to a potential buyer and sell a product. However, Spanglish is not a dialect and its use should not be encouraged. Promoting Spanglish can have unpredictable consequences for the evolution, or rather the involution of Spanish or Hispanic heritage in the United States.