Spanish-Language Adaptation: Spain and Latin America

Diferencias en la traduccion de textos del español de latinoamérica y el español de españa

In previous posts, we’ve broadly outlined our adaptation services and the endless opportunities in the world of professional translation. Clients are increasingly coming to us requesting Spanish-language translation and adaptation services for either Spain or Latin America. In today’s post, we’re going to explain why Castilian and Latin American Spanish differ and why it’s important to leave this work to professionals.

Although the same language, they are in fact two variations of Spanish with numerous differences, both in their spoken and written form, particularly in terms of their varying grammar and lexical richness. Castilian and Latin American Spanish are two variations of a single language which, in turn, have their own dialects.

Why are there so many differences? When the Spanish colonists founded colonies across the world, they took with them an evolving language, and numerous immigrants from other parts of Europe went on to incorporate their own linguistic traditions and dialects. As communication with Spain was limited, these different combinations gave rise to different variations, and some elements of Old Spanish were preserved, while others were not.

To give you an overview of these differences, we can highlight the use of “vos” to address someone (as opposed to “tú”), predominantly in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Originally, it was a polite way of addressing others in Spain and was a sign of respect and authority; its usage was even considered standard, but it fell into disuse, unlike in the Americas. Similarly, “ustedes” (as opposed to “vosotros”) was established as the correct way to address a group of people in Latin American Spanish; that said, “ustedes” is still used in Spain, not only in formal contexts, but also in certain regions where it is a natural part of speech.

Just as occurs in English, different Spanish dialects employ vocabulary in their own unique way. Although most Spanish words are universal, there are some that differ considerably in family and social contexts. For example, while in Spain people use a “móvil” (mobile), in Latin America, a “celular” (cell phone) is more common; and people in Spain write using “bolígrafos” (pens), while in Argentina they use “lapiceros”, and in Colombia, “esferos”.

Furthermore, there are also multiple terms with meanings that vary according to the region, despite maintaining the same form. An example of this is the everyday verb “coger” in Spain (meaning ‘to catch, take, pick up’) and the entirely different meaning of this verb in Latin America (as a piece of advice, if you find yourself in Latin America, try not to use this verb as you would in Spain!). In terms of grammar, the main difference lies in the use of the past perfect compound tense in Spain, and the preference for the simple past tense in Latin America.

As you can see, although the language is the same, the variations are entirely different in every sense of the word. And why is this important to know? When it comes to implementing an internationalization or export strategy for products or services aimed at the Spanish or Latin American markets, it’s vital that they are adapted to each of the regions and that the Spanish spoken in Spain is not taken as standard, as in addition to the examples given, numerous other differences have to be taken into account; it’s as if the Spanish spoken in the Americas were an entirely different language to that spoken in Spain, despite having the same form and origin.

At Tatutrad, we receive requests from clients on a daily basis looking to translate and adapt texts for use in Spain and Latin America. Our team of professionals are specialists in Spanish-language adaptation, with extensive knowledge on the differences between the variations. Leaving the translation and adaptation of texts to professionals is key to avoiding misunderstandings and ensuring that language inconsistency doesn’t stop your product from being as successful as you hoped. Furthermore, as we touched on in our post on adaptation, this service has several advantages, such as reducing time frames.

Ideally, during globalization, the stages of internationalization and localization would take the target audience into account so that commercialization is a success: two continents, two strategies. Customs, traditions, cultural differences, varying vocabulary, different grammar… Our Spanish-language adaptation service covers all this. In our next posts, we’ll talk about the other possibilities of this service, so make sure you revisit our blog!

If you’re looking for successful adaptation that guarantees the high quality that your products and services need and deserve, don’t hesitate to get in touch so that we can accompany you on this journey. Simply fill out our web contact form and we’ll take care of the rest!

Tamara Sousa Villafaina

LinkedIn: https://es.linkedin.com/in/tamara-sousa-villafaina