Translation into Spanish

Try, but you can’t miss the widespread and vibrant array of Spanish language spoken around the world. In fact, modern Hispanic and Spanish pop culture icons like Sofía Vergara, Rafael Nadal, Shakira, Pablo Neruda, and Andrés Iniesta have amplified the popularity of Spanish language in each of their fields and beyond. Today, there are over half a billion Spanish speakers around the globe.

Spanish around the World

Spanish is the official language in Spain as well as most of South America. Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Perú, Ecuador, and Chile are some of the most familiar abroad, among the 21 Spanish speaking countries in Latin America.

Within the United States itself, around Florida and in large areas of the Midwestern, Pacific, and Southwestern states, between 5 to 20% of the population is Spanish-speaking – and these numbers continue to rise.

Even the great continent of Africa is no exception to the prevalence of Spanish: it’s the official language of Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony where Castilian continues to be the official language of administration, business and education. In Morocco, even beyond Melilla (a Spanish territory) there are still more than 1,500,000 Spanish speakers.

Overall there are more than 500 million people in the world speaking Spanish, whether it’s their first or second language.

Spanish in the Professional Sphere

Spanish is an expanding cultural phenomenon in itself: it’s undoubtedly the language of the telenovelas, the small-screen operatic drama phenomenon originating in Latin America. Spanish language pop music has exploded worldwide in the last decades. Artists are speaking with the power of their Spanish culture to communicate a message. Breaking into the Latin American market and its commercial and economic potential is possible with good command and understanding of the Spanish language and some of its cultural variations by region. Production and exporting of mining and agricultural raw materials are some areas experiencing significant growth around Latin America today. Demand from Asian countries and from around the world is on the rise. Spanish speaking and understanding is a good negotiating tool to maximize in this competitive arena.

The Subtleties of the Spanish Language

Spain segments its main Spanish language into a few more dialects, with Castilian as the official state-recognized Spanish spoken by the majority there; in close proximity with its dialects of Catalan, Galician, Asturian and Basque languages as the main or largest groups of dialects. In addition, as with Latin American country regions, within the different regions of Spain itself, Spanish can get a little more “provincial”; however the nuances tend to be very localized, and the generally accepted Castilian Spanish terms are quite universally understood across this nation of approximately 46 million citizens. For example, in the north of Spain some countryfolk may refer to a steep hill as “una colina pindia”, while the generally accepted term for it elsewhere and in the capital would be said “una colina empinada.”  Spanish for business and education usually employs the standard Castilian, whereas Spanish for tourism, literature, and art could make additional use of these local and more colorful folksy idiomatic expressions.

Catalan, spoken primarily in the province of Catalunya and containing Spanish roots with a clear French influence, is one of the dialects with its root words more closely resembling those of its Castilian counterpart. The differences between Castilian and Catalan are mostly in the pronunciation, since they do share many linguistic roots and a conversation or written piece can still mostly be understood between them, even without translation. In Castilian Spanish all the letters are pronounced, including two consecutive vowels. The vocabulary is a bit different of course, but still has similar roots. “Good night” in Spanish translates as “buenas noches” in Castilian, and “bona nit” in Catalan. To say goodbye, a Catalonian would say “a raveure,” rather than “adios” or “hasta la vista”. The syntax and spelling rules are also different between these two dialects.

Crossing the pond between Spanish-speaking continents can also change the meaning of certain identical terms used very differently, and with the potential to cause an awkward situation. A Spaniard commonly uses the term “coger” to express taking, picking up, or grabbing something; whereas an Argentinian actually reserves that same term for a much more intimate act between lovers. Another innocent faux pas with a similar potential for embarrassment (or at the very least, a light laugh), is the term “bicho”, an innocent common slang term for an insect, bug, or critter in Spain – sometimes even for a misbehaving child; but use the same term casually around Puerto Ricans and you’re sure to get some raised eyebrows in surprise. In Puerto Rico this is a slang term for a private part of the male anatomy. To send the correct message in translation, it pays to use an expert, professional translation company with a good cultural understanding of the subtleties of the Spanish language right at their fingertips.
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