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Written by Santiago Lopez
on July 18, 2013

Did you know that Spanish is the official language of 21 different countries? It is also the official language of 6 territories, such as Puerto Rico and Canary Islands. It is spoken by 406 million people as their first language and another 60 million as their second language. Spanish is notably one of the most requested languages for translation and localization in the world and often people are confused with the different types of Spanish spoken around the world. Clients often approach Andovar with an intention to localize a project for the Spanish speaking world and can get confused and discouraged when they learn about the different variants of the language. That’s when the questions begin.

Here are some of questions that are brought up. Is the Spanish from Mexico the same as Spanish in Argentina? Do we need a different Spanish translation for every country in South America? Is the Spanish from Central America the same as from South America? Here are a few tips that will help you understand Spanish and its flavors better.

  • The Spanish from Europe, Africa, South America, Central America and North America is the same. This type of Spanish is also more commonly known as Castellano, Spanish derived from the vulgar Latin. The language was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the Second Punic War, which began in 210 B.C. After that, in times of colonization the language was spread throughout the world
  • With time the language evolved and likewise was adjusted by different cultures. The main principles of the language remain the same but individual words and phrases may have changed meanings in Hispanic countries.
  • The localization industry recognizes three main flavors of Spanish for written content: European Spanish (Spain) which is sometimes compared to the British version of English, Latin American Spanish (includes Central and South America) and Spanish for the U.S. (influenced mostly by immigrants from Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico).

If, for example, your target market are three countries in South America (e.g. Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia) and two in Central America (e.g. El Salvador and Honduras) then you wouldn’t have to worry about paying for 5 different Spanish translations. In this case you would be fine to make only one translation into Spanish Latin America. However, if you are targeting Spain, Latin America and the Hispanic population of the U.S., we would recommend a different approach that can save you time and money. Instead of paying for three different translations we recommend translating into Latin American Spanish and then we would edit that translation into the three different variants using editors for those target languages. Performing a project in this fashion will help you save more than half of the money and your audience would be pleased. Andovar has extensive experience in localizing written content into Spanish and having an office in Medellin, Colombia certainly gives us a great advantage.

Now that we’ve covered the general rules for written content in Spanish, let’s take a look at what is recommended for spoken content. If your project involves audio localization and you are trying to target a variety of Spanish-speaking countries in South, Central and North America, we recommend a more general approach - using a voice talent with a less distinct accent. Colombian is the preferred universal accent for these types of projects and our Colombian office enables us to have an ample database of voice talents for you to choose from. On the other hand, if you are targeting Spain, we recommend using a local voice talent because Spaniards would easily recognize the accent was Latin American.

Here at Andovar we have the ability to work with any of your Spanish needs. We have more than 100 approved translators and over 50 voice talents with all the different accents. If you would like further information about our services in Spanish or any other language, please contact our global team for advice.

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