Translating Into Spanish: Deciding Among Variants

Translating into Spanish. Latin American landscape. A sign written in Spanish.

Many languages have different variations according to their geographic location, and cultural factors, among others. Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and it is characterized by different variations due to the diverse number of countries that use it as an official language. When translating into Spanish, it is common to find the question of which variant to choose. The answer is that there is no ideal variant, each option offers different pros, and that is why each case must be weighed individually according to your market needs.

In the following paragraphs, we will address this interesting debate. Firstly, we will learn more about the different variants of the Spanish language and what each of them has to offer. This article aims to provide you with tools that will help you make the right decision when translating into Spanish.

What are the variants of the Spanish language?

Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in Spain and the Americas. 21 countries have it as their official language. Mexico is the territory with the highest number of speakers, followed by Colombia and Spain. In theory, it could be said that there are as many variants of Spanish as the number of places that speak it, however, in the world of translation these are usually classified into these main categories: 

European Spanish: This is the variant spoken in Spain (also known as Castilian or Peninsular Spanish) and from which the different existing variants emerged. Something characteristic about it is that it is the most isolated from the others according to its geographic distance. Because Spanish speakers are proud of their language and culture, when it comes to translating documents for Europeans, Spanish from Spain is usually used, and when translating for a Latin American audience it is ideal to select LATAM Spanish. 

Latin American Spanish: This variant includes the territory that begins in Mexico and ends in Argentina, with a total of 18 Spanish-speaking countries. Since no uniform variant represented all of them, the LATAM variant was created. This alternative focuses on avoiding the use of local vocabulary or grammar and opts for more neutral alternatives. It is a recommended option when translating material for a broad audience composed of a diverse group of Latin American speakers. Although LATAM Spanish may not sound natural to every Latin American Spanish speaker, messages will be understood by all. It is, therefore, often considered the most inclusive variant for a diverse audience.

U.S. Spanish: Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, with over 41 million speakers. The Hispanic heritage throughout American history and the influence of Latin American immigrants to the U.S. produced a very specific variant. The linguistic and extralinguistic conventions of the U.S. Spanish variant affect how messages are understood and relied upon by the Hispanic population in the U.S.

International Spanish: This is the universal variant that covers territories ranging from Spain to Latin America. It was specifically designed to be understood globally and to ensure maximum comprehension among Spanish-speaking readers and listeners from all over the world. This type of variant can be used in technical documents covering topics related to medicine, science, technology, etc. It can also be used for informative texts such as instruction manuals or any type of material that is consumed by all kinds of Spanish speakers. 

Regional Spanish: Spanish belonging to a specific region. It uses the idioms and expressions of a particular country. This variant is best used when you want to reach a local Spanish-speaking audience and make sure they connect or identify with a brand or product. Also, when it comes to references to food, culture, marketing, and legal issues.

Which variant should I choose when translating into Spanish?

Each variant exists for a purpose and therefore when translating into Spanish, the ideal is to think about the needs that each one fulfills. It all comes down to knowing your audience and giving them what they are looking for. A professional translation provider will be able to help you select the right variant for your audience and create culturally relevant messages to reach them.

At Win & Winnow, we know that every client is different, and that is why we adapt to their needs and provide them with customized and comprehensive solutions. To do this successfully, we rely on our specialized team.

If you want to know more, contact us! We will get back to you as soon as possible!

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Translating Into Spanish: Deciding Among Variants

Translating into Spanish. Latin American landscape. A sign written in Spanish.