Discussion started by Veronica C. Pallos on Linkedin. English Spanish translator org.
As an English-Spanish translator, I've been asked many times to translate into NEUTRAL or UNIVERSAL Spanish. I would like to know your opinion about this. Is there such thing as "neutral" Spanish?
Wilma Connell • It would make it easy to have a "Universal Spanish", but utopia does not exist. This is a good question... I would ask your customer who their target audience/ customer is and where they are located. Are their customers from Spain, the Caribbean, South America, Central America? Then take it from there...
Blanca Collazo • It would be wonderful to have a "universal" Spanish or any language. Although every Spanish speaking country has vocabulary that is understood in any other Spanish speaking country, it also has its own regional vocabulary which changes in other countries. For example, If I translate the word corn for Mexico it would be elote, but for somewhere else it could be maíz. So, you would have to stay away from that if you want to translate to "neutral" Spanish. Now, is there a universal word for corn in Spanish? Which one is the most commonly used? Conclusion: there is no "neutral or universal" Spanish.
Ornella Viele • Yes, I agree, "neutral" Spanish is not a language. It is an attempt we translators do to choose the terms the majority of Spanish speakers will understand. The problem is that sometimes customers don't have a specific target audience. They just want to launch their product in different Spanish speaking countries. I think we need to explain them that, as Blanca said, each country or region has its own "flavor", its own local terminology. We need to explain our clients that we cannot invent a new language, but we can choose the most commonly used Spanish words that will be understood by most of the targeted audience.
Teresa Travis • I agree! It usually helps me tell clients how different or similar translations may be for the Latinos by using various English-speaking countries and how words may interpreted, as an example.
Sanda Abramovici-Lam • indeed. The Spanish from Spain is quite different from the one in Argentina and this one from the one in Peru and so forth as the English spoken in US differs frrom the one spoken in England/Australia etc............in both cases I guess it is safe to choose a more universal version than a regional one.
Maika Vicente Navarro • Exactly! I agree with you all! There is not such as thing as Universal/Neutral/international Spanish. Your best option is to learn who is going to be the audience of the documentation that is being translated into Spanish. Each variant of the Spanish language has its own way of expressing the same thing, what can be considered polite/neutral in one variant can be considered a grave insult in another. This is something you must make clear to your client, since won't want to make a bad impresion in their audience/potential customers.
Veronica C Pallos • I agree with Maika. You need to know who will be your audience. I have heard of the term "Standard Spanish" which just means Spanish that can be understood by any Spanish speaker (so you avoid terminology that is only used in that area)
Marianne Gervais • As an example, I remember asking a young student if her mother was bringing "una torta" for her birthday. This was the term I learned in Ecuador for 'cake'. The little girl looked at me with a funny look on her face and asked why she would bring "una torta" to school. I later found out that to her (family from Mexico) "una torta" was like an egg sandwich. Later, I was reading a book with just a word and pictures. I showed the picture of the cake and on the facing page it said "una torta" which made us all laugh. It was a good lesson in Spanish vocabulary!!
Sandra Claros • Hey !
There is a not slang type of spanish, or academic, which seems to be more delicate, pure.
Blanca Collazo • Sandra,
can you clarify? What do you mean there is not a slang type of Spanish? of course there is!!! No academic Spanish??????
Sandra Claros • slang deppends on the country you are.
Mexicans are champions on that.
But if you go to other countries, is a bit different.
Academic spanish menas a pure language.
John P. Healy Duffy • What Verónica, Maika and Sandra say is to the point. There is a basic Spanish language which should be clear to all, but once you get into specific terminology or idiomatic expressions, any corporate body needs to be clear on the target audiance so as not to run into trouble, as we are very aware in Argentina.
Christina Hansen • LOL! That's funny. Well ina very general sense I can understand this request. For the most part someone in Colombia is going to understand the Spanish in Mexico. However, the differences in certain words are critical to understand as people who have lived or traveled to more than one or two countries understand. In Guatemala, for instance, a sipping straw is a pajilla, in Mexico it's popote and in Argentina it's pitito. As YOU know this is the norm. You cannot even say "this is how you say it in Central America and this is how you say it in South America." Every one of those little countries in Central America has a differenty word for the one thing, be it straw or kite or snack or cake or store or hole or hot dog. :) What I have learned when translating for Spanish speakers living in the USA is finding the most likely to be understood word by all -- like using cometa for the word kite ... and then adding a glossary or footnote to explain if truly needed. I manage a page on FB where often the translation struggles of these words are discussed. It is a fascinating puzzle to be worked on - never solved to satisfaction with just one word plugged in and moving on. It's hard for English speakers to understand this fully. Sure there are differences in English -- British English, Canadian, Australian, US, but the countries are so much larger they seem easier to accept. But that is the best way I can explain it to an English speaker - by giving examples. The words that are used in each of the countries are not slang words - they are each country's proper word for that thing. However, targetting Spanish speakers in the US requires a more universal approach to translating - yet are more forgiving. If you are talking about targetting specific countries in their home country ... that's a whole other of worms. It would be improper, perhaps insulting even, to call a snack a merienda in Guatemala when refaccion is the right word. But a refaccion in Mexico ... is a place to take your car to be worked on. :) Good luck.
Teo Alonso • A couple of years ago I was in a conference where the speaker said nobody likes Universal/Neutral Spanish, but it’s the variant that dislike less people. There is not such a thing like Neutral or Universal Spanish, it’s just a fake language that was invented for some large companies, in order to reduce the translation budget for their Spanish products while increasing the targeted countries. And some other companies follow this lead… You should ask your client both for the targeted audience (who and where they are located) and, most important, who will review your work. You may choose the most universal translation for every word, but if the client reviewer is not considering this (he/she may be a local speaker), you will probably receive a fail in your quality assessment.
Denise Chaffin • A Translation Certification Professor at ASU (AZ State Univ) told me the Standard Spanish used for news, media, etc. is la forma Castellano, from Spain. She said the Translation programs at the Universities teach the Castillion form of spanish as the most recognized dialect universally used by professionals. I'm not sure I agree, but just wanted to share something learned from a University professor who is teaching spanish to students living very close to the Mexican borders.
Teo Alonso • Denise, I'm afraid this is only true in those media that want to be considered a ‘quality media’, as this is the standard for well educated people in any Spanish speaking country. I’m originally from Spain, and I lived in Chile for more than 5 years, and I can tell you that the Spanish used in news, media, etc, is not a Castilian form at all. This is also true in Argentina, Mexico or the United States, where the most important media companies, Univision and Televisa, try to make their “telenovelas”•as neutral as possible, even changing the accent of their stars.
Neutral Spanish is as neutral and standard as our clients wants, it’s not a real language.
Jihan Carrasquero Uzcategui • Neutral Spanish is the medias attempt to work with just one translation for all Latin American countries. I have been working with this kind of "language" for 7 years, it is more or less just the use of certain terminology who is understandable in all Spanish speaking countries. Remember that subtitling is done just once for all Latin American countries (from Mexico to Argentina.) If someone asks you to translate into "Neutral Spanish", that´s their goal. Spain works almost exclusively with dubbing, so translations are totally adapted, even in things like the name of the Cities or Streets (too much for my liking.) Anyway, that would be it. It is not a language, just a way of making the translation understandable to all.
TR Cecilia Carrizo • @Christina Hansen: In Argentina we'd translate "straw" as pajita or sorbete (it even varies locally). "Pitito" is the small thing that hangs between a man's legs ;) , or it could also be the diminutive form of pito (as in "whistle"). Hope it helps!