Rescribe: Spanish Translation Notes

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If you are interested in translations involving Spanish, we hope these notes will help you choose your target audience.

Spanish is the native language of 332 million people. It is the national language of Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. There are also large Spanish-speaking communities living in Canada, Morocco, the Philippines, and the USA.

Spanish is a Romance language. European Spanish has two main dialects: Andalusian and Castilian. Regional variations are considerable from country to country. All of the regional dialects are derived from Castilian but outside of Spain indigenous languages, history and geography have heavily influenced the dialect spoken in each region and therefore the Spanish language is constantly evolving independently in the different countries where it is spoken.

As a consequence there are distinct variations in the most effective language for the different target audiences in Spain, Mexico, and South and Central American countries. It is certainly possible, and the normal practice in translation, to aim for a kind of "generic," neutral Spanish that has regional vocabulary and syntax minimized.

Mexican Spanish has been heavily influenced by the country's proximity to the United States and has adopted many English words. There are also varieties of Spanish heavily influenced by the influence of English, sometimes called "Border Spanish," or derogatively, "Spanglish."

Translating Spanish for a Californian audience is an interesting problem. Due to the demographics of the state there are three main constituents that make up the Spanish speaking population. There are immigrants from Mexico, immigrants from South and Central America, and locally born Spanish speakers. The three groups speak different kinds of Spanish, and writing a neutral Spanish for this audience can be challenging. Locally born Spanish speakers will consider some of the language used in "generic" Spanish unusual; there is also a tendency to assume that all Spanish for California should be based upon Mexican Spanish which alienates the significant immigrant populations from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, and other Spanish speaking regions. As usual with translations, sensitivity to the target audience will make the work more difficult and time consuming!

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