When you think about translating your documents or content into different languages, it’s logical to think about Spanish as one of the first languages you’ll want to tackle. Spanish is the second most spoken Language after Chinese. Over 500 million people speak Spanish and these Spanish speakers are spread throughout 25 different countries across the globe.
While at first glance it may seem like these 500 million people speak the same exact language, each of these countries (and sometimes smaller regions within them) speaks the Spanish language a little differently. They often share the same grammar structure, but can have major differences when it comes to vocabulary or pronunciation.
In order to determine which Spanish variant is the one that would best suit your audience, you should think beyond the language and focus on the target audience you want to address.
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
It’s time to interview yourself on how well you know your audience. Before you choose a Spanish language variant to translate your content into, ask yourself the following questions to gain some much needed insight into which Spanish variant they speak.
- Where is my audience based? Once you determine where the base of your audience lives, it’s easier to identify the Spanish variants you need to use. If it’s a specific country, like the United States, then you need to translate into the US Spanish variant. There are as many variants as countries that speak Spanish, so it’s important to nail down the correct variant before you begin the process of translation.
- Am I trying to target a broader audience? If you want to target people in Colombia, Perú and Chile, por example, LATAM Spanish may be more suitable as it’s a more neutral variant that everyone will understand. It’s all about identifying that unique audience you want to target.
If you’re still not sure who your audience is yet or where they live, take some time to do some research so you can narrow your focus. Between conducting market research and looking at your web analytics, you should be able to gather enough information about your target audience to determine where they live and what Spanish language variant they speak.
How to Navigate the Different Spanish Variants
Despite the many different Spanish variants that exist, translating content for Spanish speakers does not have to be a daunting task. Here are some key pieces of advice to keep in mind when it comes time to translate your content into Spanish.
- Be natural. Always aim to make your message sound natural to the people living in your target locale.
- Keep things neutral. When you must reach a wide audience of Spanish speakers originating in different locales, a non-localized, neutral variant is the most practical choice.
- Get nuanced. While it’s great to keep your language neutral when serving a wider audience, when targeting a highly specific audience, consider a localized message that includes regional nuance.
- Find the right translation partners. Work closely with your translation company, and discuss your audience and intent. A good translation agency will help you pinpoint the right form of Spanish for your audience.