The Varieties of Spanish

April 2, 2013 by Sandra De Luca
Category: "Spot" on Language, Language Translation Services

Spanish is an extremely varied language, spoken in at least 20 countries and even differing among regions within the same country. Finding an easy way to express yourself with a single Spanish translation can be a challenging, but not impossible, task. Knowing your specific regions and working with good in-country resources or a translation agency can help make sure you avoid using the wrong term in the wrong area. 

The Best-Traveled Language in the World

June 15, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: "Spot" on Language

When our clients ask us to translate or localize into Spanish, the first question we ask is "Which kind of Spanish do you want?"

That’s because Spanish is the official or de facto language of 23 countries, from the obvious (Mexico) to the surprising (Antarctica — the Argentinian and Chilean sections, that is).  It’s spoken by half a billion people on five continents. Yet those 500 million speak many different varieties of this most diverse Romance language, from the original Castilian and Andalusian of Spain to the distinctive trade route Spanish of Cuba and Puerto Rico.  

puerto rican day parade

Español traveled from the ports of Spain along with Spanish explorers, spreading out all over the world to Mexico, Central America, and most of South America (the exception is Brazil). The language even arrived in Equatorial Guinea.  Along the way, Spanish grew and changed in unique ways with every culture it encountered, adapting to a multitude of indigenous tongues, each country creating its own unique vocabulary and accent.

Getting to Know the Hispanic Market

March 10, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Culture

Do you parquear your car? How about vacunar the carpet? If you're one of the 34+ million of Spanish speakers in the U.S., you may understand this mix of Spanish and English perfectly well. And you may even expect to hear or read this Spanglish in advertising.

The purchasing power of the Hispanic population is currently valued at $1 trillion (that's a lot of dolares). Read on to learn some tips on how to createspanish english words culturally-specific marketing campaigns for this growing market.

Learn about the demographic. Hispanics in the States come from 20+ different countries (although a majority, around 60%, are of Mexican origin). Culturally, they tend to be travel between two worlds — their native culture and American culture. Skim through Hispanic magazines, watch Latino TV shows and listen to Spanish-language radio. You don't have to speak Spanish fluently to get an appreciation of the look and feel of the advertisements that target this demographic.

Levi's Gets Adventurous Marketing to Young, Bi-Cultural Hispanics

December 16, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, International & Global Translation Services

jeansThis past year we saw several examples of global brands that used cultural and linguistic differences to their advantage, taking a unique cross-cultural approach to marketing and advertising.

One of these was the iconic American brand Levi's and their Nuevo Pionero campaign.

In this campaign that showed a truly "adventurous" approach to catching the eye of the young, bi-cultural Latino market, Levi's took five young U.S. Hispanics on a journey this summer from Alaska to Argentina on the Pan-American Highway. This literal and metaphorical journey from North to South shows the five travelers fully clad in Levi's new Work Wear line, stopping in ten different cities and pitching in on work projects involving the arts. Their experiences were documented in a ten-week reality show, "Norte a Sur: Una Ruta, 5 Experiencias" (North to South: One Route, 5 Experiences), that aired in the fall on Discovery en Español.

Usted, Tú, Vos - Challenges for English-to-Spanish Translation

November 17, 2010 by Alyssa Paris
Category: Translator's Corner

Your high school Spanish has probably been retired to some remote corner of your mind that you visit only occasionally by necessity. Even so, you likely remember the challenges of learning this rich and beautiful language that so many Americans claim is ‘easy’. In reality, Spanish is much more complex than the layman realizes and its structure varies greatly from one country to another.  The vocabulary, idioms and even grammatical forms are very different in Spain and Mexico, for example – lo pasé bien in Spain is la pasé bien in Mexico. Taking these subtleties and nuances into account and choosing the correct target audience are keys to successful English-to-Spanish translation.

Mexican flagsOne of the elements of Español that varies greatly across dialects and borders is the use of pronouns - usted and vos. Could anything be more fundamental to a sentence than the pronoun?  This particular grammatical element is absolutely crucial and yet its application is very culture-specific. Though we do not have this distinction in English, we can appreciate the difference in tone between ‘you guys’ and ‘you’. When addressing members of the board of your company, it's unlikely that you'd ask, “So how are you guys doing today?” The formal and informal tone is even more developed in Spanish and is nuanced uniquely in each hispanohablante country.       

Lost In Perception

celloOne of my favorite Italian columnists, Michele Serra, writing about the qualities of a certain South American poet, remarked “It has to be said, to be fair to all other poets, that he starts with an advantage: Spanish is to poetry what cello is to music: everything sounds better.”

I’m an Italian, just like Michele Serra and to me, Spanish is indeed a refined, erudite language with just a touch of exoticism. It sounds elegant but slightly harsher than Italian, more serious and structured, but with some strange sounds (the unpronounceable “j” for example) and a better defined rhythm. Yes it indeed sounds great, like the cello — beautiful, soothing and warm while at the same time, deep and slightly threatening.

When you’re a linguist and when you live abroad, you hear a lot about the qualities of languages: beautiful, hard, musical, poetic, harmonious, harsh. And while recognizing that there might be some science behind what makes a language pleasant to the ear, I cannot help but thinking that none of these qualitative remarks have any truth behind them.

Tips on Latin American Localization

September 23, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Website Translation Services, Localization Tips

latin america mapWe hear a lot about localizing marketing content for U.S. Hispanic consumers — but what about the hundreds of millions of potential Spanish-speaking customers south of our borders? A few tips on marketing to Latin American Spanish-speaking audiences, from a localization professional via Mediapost:

  • All gestures are not "OK." In Latin America, to give the OK sign they use a hand with index finger and middle finger raised, with the palm of the hand facing the person whose hand is used. But in the U.K. that same symbol is equivalent to giving someone the middle finger!
  • Dollar bill, y'all. Here in the U.S., the dollar sign ($) refers to U.S. dollars. But in Latin America, it could also refer to the local currency in other countries (e.g., Argentina). Also, just like Europe, numbers are written differently —  $2,335.47 in the U.S. vs. $2.335,47 in Latin American Spanish.


Of course, these are both items that your translation agency should know well! Don't get caught off guard by having to catch these yourself, or misunderstand the scope of your project. When it comes to marketing, more has to change than simple document text translation.

Spanish Language Bloggers a Growing Consumer Influence

September 2, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, International & Global Translation Services

latismThe number of Hispanic women starting blogs hit a peak last year, with 63% of Latina bloggers founding their blog in 2009, according to the LATISM Bloguera Survey, which questioned 939 respondents in the United States and Latin America.

There's been a steady increase in the number of blogs authored by Latinas since 2006 to date, and projections indicate that the number will continue to increase throughout 2010, the study found.

"Through blogging, they have planted themselves right at the epicenter of merging worlds: between tradition and modernity, between off-line and on-line, between English and Spanish, between American and Latino cultures," observed Ana Roca-Castro, Chair and Founder of Latinos in Social Media (LATISM).

Considering the vast projected growth of the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. and their spending power, these Latina bloggers are certainly something to watch for companies looking to track this emerging online consumer segment.

How To: Capture the U.S. Hispanic Market

"The concept of an 'average American' is gone, probably forever."

- Peter Franchese, founder of American Demographics magazine

The 2010 census was the first time that the U.S. government made a concerted effort to include all multilingual immigrant groups, and as a result it will likely show the U.S. as it is: a truly multicultural nation, a multigenerational society and a multi-segmented household economy.

2010 populationSpecifically, the new census will show numbers reflecting a large and fast-growing Hispanic population that for years many people were aware of, but never fully grasped the impact this group can have in the future. The Hispanic segement will represent over 50 million consumers with over a trillion dollars in buying power, writes Terry Soto in The Transformation of the U.S. Consumer Market (pdf).

But how do you capture and retain the Hispanic consumer? First and foremost, you need to gather market insights. Because the U.S. Hispanic is so incredibly diverse, you have to identify and understand the micro-segments within it that will be the most productive for your brand.

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


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