Every pair of languages presents its own unique translation challenges. Understanding the relationships between languages is part of the art of translation so I am here to offer some suggestions based on my lengthy experience as the owner of ACR Spanish Translations.
As a translation services client, you probably know that creating a faithful, yet eloquent translation requires expert knowledge beyond basic bilingualism. That is why you are seeking out professional help! While you should be able to trust and rely on the knowledge and experience of the translator you choose to work with, understanding how translation works will help you find the right translator and work with them effectively. That is why today I am going to share with you some of the unique challenges of English to Spanish translation.
English has Anglo-Saxon roots, while Spanish is a Romance language. This can make the two languages a rather awkward “fit”, compared to other language combinations. There are differences in grammar, structure, and even in wordiness that a translator must take into consideration.
Syntax is more flexible in Spanish than in English. For example, in Spanish the subject of a sentence can be emphasized by placing it on the end of the sentence. A translator must make judgements about the source text’s meaning and consider how changes to sentence structure may convey or alter the original meaning.
Spanish is a “longer” language than English due to sentence structure and other conventions. Translations tend to be about 30% longer than their English sources. If you need a translated text to be a specific length, hire a translator who can create a shorter text that prioritizes the original messaging of the original.
There are many variations of Spanish, and using the wrong one for your target audience will be glaringly obvious! There are significant differences across regional varieties of Spanish such as European Spanish and Spanish of the Americas, as well as dialect differences within Spain and Hispanic America. These differences are mainly apparent in the pronunciation of the language, but do also appear in grammar, formalities and the names of things. It is important to identify your target audience and the appropriate variety of Spanish for your translation.
Cultural nuances such as formality, use of nicknames and connotations are also important and can have regional variation. In addition to identifying the language of your target audience, consider the scope of your audience demographics. This will help your translator adjust formality and tone appropriately. For the most nuanced translation, hire a translator who is fluent in both the local language and culture of the target audience.
An experienced, professional translator will be able to navigate the various challenges of English to Spanish translation, ensuring that the translated text is faithful to the meaning of the original, while reading naturally and fluently to your target audience. Being knowledgeable about translation empowers clients to choose the right translator for their project, and to communicate their project needs with confidence, helping the translator to deliver their best possible work!