English to Spanish translation is one of the most common and important translation jobs in America and around the world. With more than 450 million native speakers of Spanish in the world and almost 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 wide 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 tasks for translation companies.
There can be many reasons why someone decides to translate their documents. From a marketing perspective, for example, when business people realize that the most successful marketing strategies involve creating and distributingshocking content, properly localizing this content into other languages is the next logical step if they are to reach global markets.
From a cultural perspective, to cite another scenario, multicultural teams have become the norm in many workplaces, requiring English to Spanish translators to make information accessible to all.
Whatever the reasons that lead someone to hire translation services, especially when translating from English to Spanish, 5 basic tips must be considered:
English to Spanish translation tips
- Understand and adapt to cultural differences
- Predict that Spanish is longer than English
- Beware of the ambiguity 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 are probably mentioned in every resource you can find in translations. But there are some major cultural differences that every English to Spanish translator should be aware of.
A common example is the difference in openness between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities. next anthropologistEduard SalonAccording to the theory, some cultures prefer more direct messages and lots of explicit information defined in the text rather than subtle or implicit cues. This is the case for "low-context" or explicit cultures like the United States.
The translation from English into Spanish must not neglect the cultural component. Translation is not just code conversion.
In contrast, other cultures, such as those in which Romance languages are spoken, communicate much more between the lines. Therefore, when translating between English and Spanish, such cultural differences must be taken into account. . . if, of course, you want to make culturally appropriate translations.
Otherwise, you run the risk that the tone of the translated text will be perceived differently by your target audience than intended. For example, if the target audience is Spanish speakers and the translation is very literal and doesn't compromise the openness of the source language (English), they may find the tone of the text too condescending or condescending.
A supermarket with a Barcelona flag hanging on the window.
2. Predict that 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 is likely to have around 630 words in Spanish.
This is important for several reasons, but the main one is layout and character limitations. For example, on your website or app, you may need to allow more characters and space for headlines, call-to-action buttons, etc. if you want them translated into spanish. Otherwise they might 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 problem 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.
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 a problem 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, it takes a high level of cognitive effort and even guesswork to correctly infer the subject of the sentence when little context is available. The sentence "kitchen at night' could be translated into English as 'he cooks at night', 'she cooks at night', 'you should cook at night' etc.
From this you can probably predict the magnitude of the problem when using machine translation that has not been edited by a human translator: how do you know that the machine got the topic right?
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4. Decide to use Spanish gender words when translating from English to Spanish
Spanish nouns have gender, a concept unfamiliar 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 (“Is"Ö"Ö') to reflect this. For example, "book" is "the book' (male) while the library 'the 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 has to decide how to use gender in the translation.
"The 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 begun to avoid gendered words wherever possible to give the appearance of inclusive gender identities and genders.
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 the dialects of Spanishacross the globe. And while they're not so big that they cause confusion between people from different backgrounds, 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 the dialect(s) to translate may affect thiscostand the effectiveness of the translated content. But a professional linguist can advise you so you can make the right decisions based on the goal behind the decision to translate your documents.
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Translation from English to Spanish: Food for thought
Based on the above differences between English and Spanish, and considering that there are many, many more, English to Spanish translation requires professionally trained translators. Translation is not just about working with words, it is about working with language and meaning.
Therefore, you need professional linguists who understand both languages and each other's cultural nuances so that you can translate Spanish from English to deliver a final product that resonates with your target audience. If you need to translate into Spanish,call us today
Posted December 11, 2018. Updated November 10, 2020.
Maria disc countShe is currently based in London and 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 the best practices for English to Spanish translation; The tips were how to get the most professional translation into Spanish.
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The best way to translate from English to Spanish depends on the purpose of the translation.