English to Spanish translation is one of the most common and important translation jobs in America and around the world. With over 450 million native Spanish speakers worldwide and nearly 180 million people who speak it as a foreign language, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin.
It is also the official language of 22 countries and has a variety of accents and dialects. With English being the language of global communication (did you know it's the number one language on the internet?), it's only natural that English to Spanish translation is one of the most requested services in the translation industry.
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Translations from English to Spanish and vice versa are among the most common language tasks faced by translation companies.
There can be many reasons why someone decides to translate their documents. From a marketing point of view, for example, when business owners realize that the most successful marketing strategies involve creating and distributing contentshocking content, localizing that content properly into other languages is the next logical step if they want to reach global markets.
From a cultural perspective, to name another scenario, multicultural teams have become the norm in many workplaces, requiring English to Spanish translators to make information accessible to everyone.
Whatever the reasons that lead someone to look for translation services, especially for English to Spanish translation, it is necessary to keep in mind the following 5 main tips:
English to Spanish translation tips
- Understand and adapt to cultural differences
- Assume Spanish is longer than English
- Be aware of the ambiguities that language-specific grammatical features can cause
- Decide to use gender words
- Choose the right dialect for your translations
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1. Understand and adapt to cultural differences
Don't ignore this, cultural differences will likely be mentioned in every resource you find in the translations. But there are some important cultural differences that every English to Spanish translator should be aware of.
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A common example is the difference in openness between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities. next anthropologistEdward HallAccording to the theory, some cultures prefer more direct messages and lots of explicit information set in the text, rather than subtle or implied hints. This is the case for "low context" or overt cultures like the United States.
The translation from English to Spanish must not neglect the cultural component. Translation is not just code conversion.
In contrast, other cultures, such as those where Romance languages are spoken, communicate much more between the lines. Therefore, when translating between English and Spanish, these cultural differences must be taken into account. . . if you want to do culturally appropriate translations, of course.
Otherwise, you run the risk that the tone of the translated text will be perceived by your target audience differently than intended. For example, if the target audience is Spanish-speaking and the translation is very literal and doesn't detract from the directness of the source language (English), they may find the tone of the text too condescending or condescending.
A supermarket with a Barcelona flag hanging from the window.
2. Suppose Spanish is longer than English
English has a higher grammatical density than Spanish, which means that much more information is packed into fewer syllables compared to Spanish. This, in turn, means that you need about 25% more space in Spanish to convey the same message originally written in English.
For example, a 500 word text written in English will probably have around 630 words in Spanish.
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This is important for several reasons, but the main one is the layout and character limit. For example, on your website or app, you may need to allow more characters and space for titles, call-to-action buttons, etc. if you want them translated into spanish. Otherwise they may not fit.
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The most direct implication of this difference in breadth and density between English and Spanish is that localization should be part of product design, not an afterthought. In other words, anticipating this issue saves website and app owners time and money compared to having to fix the design at the time the translated text is loaded into the end user interface.
The Metropolis building in Madrid, Spain.
3. Beware of the ambiguity that language-specific grammatical features can cause
Pro-drop refers to when some languages can drop subject pronouns. A language can be pro-drop (as in the case of Spanish), partially pro-drop (as in Brazilian Portuguese), or non-pro-drop (as in English). Pro-drop languages allow the omission of pronouns if the semantic subject can be inferred contextually. In other words, if the topic can be inferred, there is no need to make it explicit.
So in Spanish you can say "I cook” (I cook) instead of “I cook", because the conjugated verb "I cook' encodes the theme.
While this is not an issue when translating from English to Spanish, it can introduce ambiguity when translating backwards (translating from Spanish to English) with little context. This is because some verb inflections in Spanish are the same for more than one grammatical subject.
Beware of ambiguities when translating from Spanish to English.
Therefore, properly inferring the subject of the sentence when context is scarce requires a high level of cognitive effort and even making assumptions. The sentence "kitchen at night' can be translated into English as 'he cooks at night', 'she cooks at night', 'you should cook at night' etc.
From this, you can probably guess the size of the problem when using machine translation that wasn't edited by a human translator: how do you know the machine got the topic right?
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4. When translating from English to Spanish, decide to use Spanish gender nouns
Spanish nouns have gender, a concept unknown to many native English speakers. In English, a "book" is not perceived as masculine or feminine. In Spanish, nouns have gender and there is an indicative article ("AND"Ö"To die') to reflect this. For example, "book" is "the book' (male), while the library 'library" (feminine).
When it comes to naming a single animated noun whose gender we don't know, the unmarked (or "default") gender in Spanish is masculine (interpreted to include masculine and feminine).
Spanish distinguishes words by gender. An English to Spanish translator needs to decide how to use gender in translation.
"User" is therefore likely to be translated as "the user' (masculine form), but refers to all users, male or female. While this has been the case for many centuries, many brands have started to avoid gendered words wherever possible in order to convey the impression of gender-inclusive and gender-inclusive identities.
There is no consensus on this practice and it is a topic that often causes controversy, but it is important to mention because several respected institutions have published guidelines to avoid or avoid sexism in language.
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5. Choose the right dialect for your translations
There are several regionsDifferences between Spanish dialectsacross the globe. And although they are not so big that there is confusion between people from different fields, you should choose a dialect for your translations.
- Will it be European or Latin American Spanish?
- Which variety within each of these groups exactly?
Your choice of dialect(s) to translate can affect thiscostand the effectiveness of the translated content. But a professional linguist can advise you to make the right decisions based on the purpose of your decision to translate your documents.
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Translation from English to Spanish: food for reflection
Based on the above differences between English and Spanish, and considering that there are many, many more, English to Spanish translation requires trained professional translators. Translation is not just working with words, it is working with language and meaning.
Therefore, you need professional linguists who understand both languages and the cultural nuances of each other so that you can translate Spanish from English to provide a final product that resonates with your target audience. If you need to translate into Spanish,call us today
Posted Dec 11, 2018. Updated Nov 10, 2020.
Maria disc countCurrently living in London, she is an English to Spanish translator, interpreter, transcreator, proofreader and writer with over 8 years of experience.
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In this article, we explain best practices for translating from English to Spanish; The tips were how to get the most professional translation into Spanish.
However, sometimes you just want a quick and easy translation to get an idea of what the text means.
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It's a Google Sheets spreadsheet template designed for quick and easy translation. But it's getting better; not just translate between two languages. You can translate dozens of languages! Just paste the text, use the drop-down menus to select languages and read the translated text.
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The best way to translate from English to Spanish depends on the purpose of the translation.
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