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How to Work With a Spanish Translator

Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages around the world, fourth after Mandarin, English, and Hindi. It’s no surprise, then, that people need to work with a Spanish translator at some point in their business, whether they’re addressing the local Hispanic population in their own language, or seeking to expand to Spanish speaking countries. In this blog post, we’re going to look at how to work with a Spanish translator to make the process more straightforward.

Making life easier for you and your Spanish translator

Translations can be complicated, no matter the language or the experience of the translator. Two things can make the task easier: your own knowledge of the language, and information you provide to the translator about the text.

Key details about Spanish you need to know before seeking a translation

Over half a billion people worldwide speak Spanish, including members of the Hispanic community in the US. There are two major dialects in the language, European Spanish and Latin American Spanish, which creates an issue in translation, to begin with. These differences are similar to those between American English and British English, though the spelling in Spanish is at least consistent across both dialects.

What you need to be wary of is the syntax and formality of the language and how it varies according to the dialect being written. The varying styles of writing between European and Latin American Spanish will be known by an experienced Spanish translator, but it helps for you to understand that a difference exists.

Where is your audience?

A Spanish translator can tackle translations in either dialect, with generic Spanish used where no preference is stated. This can present issues of tone and style when read by your audience, so it helps to make a few things clear to the translator in the beginning:

  • Where is your audience based?
  • Which type of Spanish do they use, European or Latin American?
  • What cultural issues should your translator be aware of?

Likewise, your translator may be able to assist in answering these questions as part of the localization process. The more you know about your target market, the easier it will be for the Spanish translator to do their job.

Understanding Spanish as a language

When you approach a translator, it helps to understand some of the structure of the language. All of this helps inform your understanding of what you’re asking for from a Spanish translator.

  • The Spanish language shares a root with other European languages. Like French and Italian, there are two genders in Spanish.
  • Spanish is made up of several layers of formality, depending on the audience.
  • In its written form, Spanish typically takes up more space on a page than English.
  • Spanish follows a similar syntax to English: subject-verb-object,
  • Except when emphasizing the subject, in which case the syntax changes: verb-object-subject.
  • Adjectives are located after the noun, not before as in English.
  • Spanish uses double negatives, which do not translate directly in English.
  • There are words that look the same in both Spanish and English, which can inform your marketing decisions.
  • Words are typically spelled as they are spoken.

While your Spanish translator is aware of all of this, it helps to understand the language, particularly where certain elements of it – such as syntax, double negatives, and language length – can affect your marketing materials or other documentation.

The value of making the purpose clear at the beginning

Are you trying to expand your marketing into a Spanish-speaking region? Or are you preparing documentation – such as an instruction manual – to be read in multiple languages?

If you’re working on marketing materials, it helps to remember that languages take up different amounts of space on the page. While this isn’t significant for instruction manuals or other documents that can expand by their very nature, marketing materials typically have a limited amount of space. Likewise, it is preferable that – localization aside, such as choices on images and colors – marketing materials are consistent globally.

The more you can tell your Spanish translator before they begin working, the better. A professional can advise on the changes you may wish to make, and on which type of Spanish you should be using.

While it is more costly to translate to both European Spanish and Latin American Spanish, the extra time and financial costs will make the translated document read more fluently and make more sense to the target audience.

What’s next?

We live for translations. Whether you’re seeking a Spanish translator or looking to work in multiple languages, our team is here to help. Check out the languages we offer, and when you’re ready, get in touch for a quote. We can handle the rest from there.


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