Translating English to Spanish

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Translation is the art of expressing in the target language the meaning of a text in the source language. Simple though this may seem, there is a lot involved in this process. It is not just a matter of literally writing in another language what the source text says.

There is a lot more than just words behind a translation

Whenever a translator undertakes a job, he has to bear in mind many aspects beyond the actual words, such as:

  • The cultural aspects that affect the source and target text
  • The context in which that text appears
  • The structure of the source text and how that structure should be adapted to reflect the way language is constructed in the target text
  • The terminology that is to be used
  • The register in the source that should be reflected in the target
  • The style of the piece of writing
  • The specific audience the translation is addressed to

However, the most important detail that the translator should consider before translating a text is the target market.

This is particularly important in Spanish translations, where there are many countries and cultures where the language is spoken.

Even though it can be argued that a “general”, somehow “neutral” Spanish can be achieved by trying to avoid regionalisms and using general terminology that can be understood in most regions, each country or region has its flavor, its unique expressions, ways of addressing people, of using tenses etc.

So this is by far the main aspect that should be considered when translating a text from English into Spanish. It is not the same to translate for the market in Spain than to translate for the market in Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay or the Spanish-speaking community in the US.

Things to consider when ordering a translation

When customers want their texts to be translated into Spanish, there are some questions they should ask themselves beforehand which will ease the translator’s job and will avoid potential misunderstandings.

Some of these questions might include:

  • What kind of text is it?
  • Which audience is it for? (specialized, general public?)
  • What market is it aimed at? (Spain, Latin America, US?)
  • Is the source text the final version? Is it a draft?
  • What’s the context for this text?
  • Do we have reference material? (previous versions, similar texts, etc.)
  • Who should be the appointed contact for answering queries?
  • Are there any previous translated material, glossaries, company terminology that should be respected?

If a customer is able to answer all these questions in advance, the translator will be already well-prepared and positioned right before sitting down to work.

To sum up, translation is a job to be taken seriously and which requires constant collaboration with the customer so as to meet their requirements at all levels. This will enable the customer to accomplish their internal goals ans succeed globally.

From the blog of Applied Language Solutions

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