Quality Spanish Translations a Must in Competitive Landscape / New Tools Now Exist to Help Improve Consistency and Quality of Spanish Translations
Despite the recent push to make English the Official Language in the United States, the importance of reaching the Spanish population in their native tongue has become more important than ever.
In recent weeks, there have been heated debates in the media and in Congress over the bill passed by the US Senate to make English the �official� language in the United States. The driving force behind this movement to make English �official� is the importance and growth of the Spanish language in the United States.
The Spanish-speaking population is one of the fasting growing segments in the world, especially in the United States. The Spanish-speaking segment constitutes a huge community that shares products, services, and culture offering businesses and institutions a truly unique growth opportunity. Here are some important facts regarding the Spanish language:
Spanish, the official language in twenty-one countries, is the third most widely spoken language in the world, after English and Mandarin.
More than 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide.
Experts predict that by the year 2050 there will be 530 million Spanish speakers, of which 100 million will be living in the USA.
Hence, as you can imagine, the demand to have documents and communications in Spanish is growing at exponential rates. This is especially true in the United States where the Hispanic population has recently become the largest minority in the country.
It has almost become a must to have web sites and offline information in Spanish. In fact, many of the Senators who voted in favor of making English the official language have materials on their site in Spanish. This marks, in a twisted ironic way, the need to reach Spanish speakers in their native tongue.
From a commercial point of view, companies, small or large, cannot afford not to have their website in Spanish. The purchasing power of US Hispanic households alone is estimated to have increased from US$276 billion in 2002 to US$630 billion in 2004. The Hispanic purchasing power was estimated to be $30.7 billion for 2004 in the state of New York alone.
While the majority of Hispanics are concentrated in the top cities in the U.S., there has been a significant migration to other areas including the following states: Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
This demand for quality Spanish content countrywide has been fueled, in part, by the Hispanic media market explosion led by television advertising at a national and network level, which has seen growth of nearly 74 percent over the past five years. Advertising expenditures for the Hispanic market in television (network/national) reached approximately $1.41 billion in 2005 � a two-fold increase compared to 1999 expenditure figures. Further, 500 Spanish newspapers, 150 magazines, and 200 publishers continue to thrive in the United States. Magazine and local television advertising expenditures for the Hispanic market showed a strong increase from 1999 to 2003, with growth of 58 and 43 percent, respectively.
Not only are Hispanics more responsive to communications in Spanish, they are requiring higher quality communications in Spanish, which translates, no pun intended, into the need for better translations tailored to the Hispanic market.
Trusted Translations, Inc. (http://www.trustedtranslations.com), a company specialized in the Spanish / English language pair has recently launched a new portal, Spanish Translator Services, (http://www.spanish-translator-services.com) that provides free tools related to the Spanish / English translations and localization. The site contains free English / Spanish dictionaries developed by a select team of Spanish linguistic experts specifically for this project. The dictionaries are industry specific and contain specialized terminology difficult to find on the web. The dictionaries currently online have over 50,000 entries and are expected to grow to over 400,000 entries in the near future with the continuous addition of new specialized, industry-specific dictionaries. The site also outlines important distinctions between the different types of Spanish and the idiosyncrasies of Hispanic and Latin American Spanish.
“Our intent at Trusted Translations is to provide reliable and free content related to the English / Spanish language pair for individuals, companies, governments, non-profit institutions and other language professionals. We hope this will improve the overall quality of Spanish in the marketplace and create a reliable reference point for the industry,” noted CEO Richard Estevez.
In the US online industry, Hispanics have taken center stage as one of the most important target groups. Here are some interesting facts related to the Online Hispanic Market:
The average Hispanic Internet user is male, 32 years old, and has an average annual income of $51,600
Approximately half of the Hispanic American Internet users are Spanish-dominant (Spanish is the primary language used in their homes)
Around 74% connect to the Internet every day and 78% access the Web at home.
From a language point of view, it is estimated that over 70% of the Hispanic households speak Spanish at home as their primary form of communications. This takes into account second and third generation Hispanics that have lived their entire life in the United States. Hence, from a cultural standpoint, the Spanish language continues to be an important form of communications for even those considered to be US natives.
While the importance of the Hispanic segment is more than evident, the difficult task still remains of how to communicate effectively with this segment. To find the answer, it is important to take a step back to understand what exactly is a “Hispanic”. This is especially in important from a language perspective as Hispanics are mix of many nationalities. The term Hispanic was first coined by the U.S. Census to try to classify the Latin Americans living in the U.S. This is important because Latin American Spanish is starkly different that Spanish from Spain. The Spaniards conjugate verbs differently, in particular through their use of “vosotros”. Verb conjugation associated with the pronoun ‘vosotros� is not used in Latin America and would generate a negative reaction by Hispanics.
“Hispanic” Spanish is more of a mix of dialects and cultures from over 20 countries in Latin America and requires special attention linguistically speaking. To add to the complexity, U.S. media sources, including traditional U.S. media in English as well as leading U.S. Spanish media companies such as Univision, Telemundo and CNN “en Espa�ol” have an important influence on Hispanic Spanish.
All of these considerations need to be taking into account when translating for the Hispanic Market. Companies that use content for the Spanish (Spain) market are making a grave marketing mistake as Hispanics respond more to Spanish spoken in Latin American countries. In particular, the Mexican and Central American countries have a strong influence due to their proximity to the United States and their influence on the media in the United States.
Now, while it may appear that the use of Latin American Spanish is the solution to reach the Hispanic market, further discussion is necessary. Due to the concentration of South Americans vs. say Mexicans in certain cities in the US, it is sometimes necessary to tailor content even further to address a particular region. For example, the Hispanic Spanish spoken in New York is very different that the Hispanic Spanish spoken in the Los Angeles. Hispanics living in Los Angeles and Houston have a stronger Mexican influence while Hispanics in New York have more roots in Puerto Rico and South America. In fact, it has been found that marketing campaigns targeted to Hispanics in New York are not as effective in other areas of the U.S. This is due to, in part, cultural reasons but is also directly related to language issues.
No company in their right mind would use content from England to target Americans. Why should Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic be any different, especially given the size and importance of the market in terms of purchasing power?
This is does not even address in detail the importance of critical safety, health, legal, public service and government related communications. Correct translations can mean the difference between life or death in some instances. While some would like to ignore the need for quality Spanish translations in the U.S. and would rather see English as the “official” language, the overwhelming reality is that Hispanic Spanish is relied upon by millions to live their daily lives. Ignoring this fact would be socially, not to mention, economically irresponsible for any institution functioning in the U.S.