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Is there such a thing as Universal Spanish in translation?

Although we know that producing translations that are localized as specifically as possible depending on the particular locale of your intended audience(s) can be fruitful, many people find it may not be realistic to have their project localized for all of the different varieties of Spanish spoken in different locales. In 2010, Spanish was ranked number two in terms of the number of native speakers worldwide, falling second only to Mandarin. There are many different countries with Spanish speakers, and oftentimes, a company may want to release its product to an audience that spans across several of these different locales.

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While each area has a different dialect, and therefore could require specific changes in the final localized product, it is not always within a company’s budget to go through this process for every locale. So, one might pose the question, “Is there a universal Spanish I can use? Something everyone will understand?” The answer to this is both “yes” and “no” and may also depend on the text itself.

Even though there may not be an official “Universal Spanish” dialect, there are certainly terms and phrases that are considered more "neutral" without the influence of local jargon or slang. The Real Academia Española, for example, strives to provide terms that are recognized by speakers of various dialects and does well to provide the standard definitions of words, as well as their various possible colloquial meanings, which may vary by country or region. For this reason, it is a good resource and starting point to localize a translated text into a Spanish that is somewhat universal.

However, it is still noteworthy to mention that the translators and editors of your content are influenced by their own respective countries and locales, which can inadvertently impact a word choice for even the most skilled linguist. They can work together to provide the most neutral Spanish possible, and a skilled team will provide a great rendition of the text with terms that are understood as widely as possible. There is always the potential that someone will read a translated word or phrase and not immediately recognize it as one they would use in their own dialect, but typically, context allows one to perceive the intended meaning.

In short, it is definitely possible to translate a text and localize it for a more universal Spanish overall. However, in doing so, there is no guarantee that the language team will not choose a term or phrase that is more commonly used in one area over another, despite its general neutrality. If you know that your target audience is specific to a few locales, it is best to let your translation project manager know so that he or she can ensure the finalized product is best suited for your needs. It may be the case that your text is better suited to a specific area, rather than trying to remain universal.

How Social media in Spanish can boost your ROI

How Social media in Spanish can boost your ROI

Social media has quickly become one of the top ways that businesses market their products and services. Many are also seeing the benefit of marketing to their customers in Spanish. And these days, companies are combining the two: social media in Spanish. Why? Check out these numbers… As of 2016, Hispanic buying power had soared to $1.4 trillion. This is up from just $495 billion in 2000. Of the 54 million U.S. Hispanics, 26 million are on Facebook, 12 million on Twitter and 9.6 million on Instagram.

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Is there such a thing as Universal Spanish in translation?

Although we know that producing translations that are localized as specifically as possible depending on the particular locale of your intended audience(s) can be fruitful, many people find it may not be realistic to have their project localized for all of the different varieties of Spanish spoken in different locales. In 2010, Spanish was ranked number two in terms of number of native speakers worldwide, falling second only to Mandarin. There are many different countries with Spanish speakers, and oftentimes, a company may want to release its product to an audience that spans across many of these different locales. While each area has a different dialect and therefore could require specific changes in the finalized, localized product, it is not always within someone’s budget to go through this process each time for every locale, and therefore, may pose the question, “Is there a universal Spanish I can use? Something everyone will understand?” The answer to this is both “yes” and “no” and may also depend on the text.

Even though there may not be an official “Universal Spanish” language dialect, there are certainly terms and phrases that are considered a more neutral version of the language, without the influence of local jargon or slang. The Real Academia Española, for example, strives to provide terms that are recognized by speakers of various dialects and does well to provide the standard definitions of words, as well as their various possible colloquial meanings, which may vary by country or region. For this reason, it is a good resource and starting point for a linguist who may wish to localize a translated text into a Spanish that is somewhat universal.

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However, it is still noteworthy to mention that the linguists performing both translation and proofreading or editing of your content are influenced by their own respective countries and locales, which can inadvertently impact a word choice for even the most skilled linguist. The team will work together to provide the most neutral Spanish possible, and a skilled team will provide a great rendition of the text with terms that are mostly universal. There is always a possibility that someone will read a translated word or phrase and still interpret in it a context that may not have been originally intended.

In short, it is definitely possible to translate a text and localize it for a more universal Spanish overall. However, in doing so, there is no guarantee that the language team will not choose a term or phrase that is more commonly used in one area over another, despite its general neutrality. If you know the target audience is specific to a few locales, it is best to let the project manager know so that he or she can ensure the finalized product is best suited for your needs. It may be the case that your text is better suited to a specific area, rather than trying to remain universal.

Social media in Spanish can boost your ROI

Social media has quickly become one of the top ways that businesses market their products and services. Many are also seeing the benefit of marketing to their customers in Spanish. Now, companies are combining the two: social media in Spanish. Why? Check out these numbers… According to a recent Nielsen report, Hispanic buying power is estimated to grow by 50% between 2012 and 2015. Currently, this population’s buying power is $1 trillion. Prefer a visual? This infographic from Nielsen further shows the current usage trends of social media by Latinos.

So, what can your business do to make strides in marketing to Latinos? The answer depends on what social media networks you utilize to reach your customers. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs are outstanding resources for Latinos looking for information on products and services. Many will want to have more information before making an informed decision about a purchase. Therefore, the first step is to know where your target customers hang out.

Second, once you have an idea of the platforms you’ll utilize to reach this population, consider the ways in which you’ll market your business to Latinos or other ethnic populations. Trivia, giveaways, reviews by bloggers and consistent outreach via social media platforms will allow you to begin to form a strong relationship between you and your customers. Language is the first step, and it’s vital to get it right. Proper translation of your materials is critical to making sure your message is received in a positive way. Along with translation or transcreation of your materials, knowledge of trends and culture will take you even further.

Finally, a key for future growth is tracking the return on investment (ROI). Are you noticing a positive response on your Spanish--language Facebook page or Twitter feed? Do you have more followers on Instagram due to publishing images that capture the attention of a Latino audience? Once you evaluate what works for your business, keep doing it! Consistency and relationship building is key in reaching consumers in their own native language.

Still need more information? Check out our 4 Translation Mistakes to Avoid in Marketing in a Foreign Language or listen to our Interview with an Expert with Natasha Pongonis of Nativa (formerly Social Media Spanish and DK Web Consulting). Natasha mentions the types of social media marketing campaigns most requested by clients, as well as 3 tips for companies to reach Latino consumers.

Interview with an Expert: Social media marketing to the Latino community

We recently had the opportunity to interview Natasha Pongonis, Co-founder of Nativa. In doing so, we further realized the strong connection between our services at Accessible Translation Solutions and the great work she and her team do daily to improve client strategies for marketing to the Latino community. Listen to Natasha explain the importance going beyond the simple translation of marketing materials and connecting with Spanish speakers to build trust and improve loyalty among this client base.

NATASHA PONGONIS is the Co-Founder of Social Media Spanish and Director at DK Web Consulting. Natasha is a social media and business communications expert with extensive international marketing experience. She develops key content for many brands and Governmental agencies engaging the diverse Hispanic audiences through her understanding of communication between cultures, traditions, and regional variations of Spanish.

A native of Argentina, she has worked with companies in Europe, North and South America developing a strong sense of understanding companies’ needs and assuring brands’ relevant online presence.

Question: What is it about the Latino market that caused you and your business partner to open your company, Social Media Spanish (SMS)?

Natasha's Answer

Question: Do you believe that marketing in Spanish will become more common in advertising, as companies begin to see the buying power of US Latinos?

Natasha's Answer

Question: What types of social media marketing campaigns are requested most by your clients?

Natasha's Answer

Question: What are three tips you have for companies who wish to reach Latino consumers but don’t know where to start?

Natasha's Answer

Question: How much can companies expect to grow their bottom line by putting content and marketing campaigns in Spanish and “transcreating” their products to be attractive to Spanish-speaking consumers?

Natasha's Answer

Contact Nativa for more information on the services provided by Natasha and her team of experts.

Bilingual marketing not focused solely on Spanish-speaking customers

It seems that lately a lot of marketing experts are focusing their attention on Latinos, and with reason. This group is (and will be for some time) the fastest growing minority in the U.S. However, some marketing strategists are not simply focusing on this group. Some are zeroing in on other minority groups as well. NPR ran a story last week titled "Corporate America Takes on Multilingual PR", noting the trend to market toward Asian Americans, especially in southern California. In this sense, focusing on such a group includes the need to pay attention to several languages spoken by Asian Americans. Unlike Spanish, a language spoken officially in 21 countries, experts cannot reach such a variety of cultures and countries simply by advertising in one language. The NPR article adds that last year's census is proof to this trend, as it created ads in Japanese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Hmong, Hinglish (a combination of Hindu and English) and Taglish (a mixture of Tagalog and English).

McDonald's and Wal-mart also run ads for Asian Americans, hoping to attract them as customers. McDonald's even has a page on their site dedicated to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, obviously recognizing these consumers as valuable potential clients and showing an appreciation for their cultures and languages, as well as their achievements and successes in the United States. The page points out such achievements with various tabs marked Food, Technology, Sports, Music, Entertainment, Home Décor and Art, allowing visitors to gain insight into the positive contributions Asian Americans have made in our country. Wal-mart has been running ads on television, featuring families who head to the store for their everyday needs. Check out the video clip on NPR's site for this article to take a look at how the corporation targets Asian Americans.

One lesson learned on behalf of McDonald's was the need to send direct mail-outs in both the target language and in English. That way, when customers bring in their coupons, the fast-food chain's staff can read them as well. This bilingual form of advertising, however, also works in the sense that some Asian Americans might prefer or have better control of English than their heritage language. This is a common trend in Spanish-language advertising as well.

What other groups are targeted here in the U.S.? Is it more common to find these ads in certain states due to the larger populations of minority groups? Probably so. That said, how many minorities could we count simply in the state of California? It would be interesting to find out how many languages are used in marketing techniques today throughout the Pacific coast states in comparison to the rest of the U.S.

What trends do you see popping up in bilingual advertising today? What strategies seem to be the most effective?

Girl Scouts reach out to Latina girls and families by launching new Spanish-language campaign

Native English speakers are slowly, but surely, coming to see the great influence and buying power of Latinos in the U.S. today. Latinos currently spend trillions of dollars in our country, yet many people have never thought to market to this community of consumers. More and more we see that businesses launch new campaigns and websites in Spanish (among other languages for other growing consumer groups), but it has been somewhat slow to take off...until now. The Girl Scouts of the USA just launched a Spanish-language campaign to reach out to young girls who wish to be a part of a group that teaches life skills and builds community. They have cleverly added a Spanish-language website, a move that many are seeing to be extremely advantageous these days. They are also producing marketing materials and a guide in Spanish.

Besides meeting the needs of language, the Girl Scouts have met the needs for technology use by creating an app to use during that time of the year when most of us are seeking out the Girl Scouts' cookie order forms. So, it makes sense that they would try to reach Latinas online, especially since Latinos are one of the number one users of the internet via mobile devices.

Giovanni Rodriguez, author of 'The Girl Scout Hispanic Marketing Playbook: 'Be Prepared' mentions in his article on ClickZ.com that content and language need to be linked. He notes, "When thinking of language and content, not only does the company need to think about the preferences of the 2.3 million girls in its organization, it also needs to think about 880,000 adult volunteers that comprise the organization's backbone. More than ever, the preferences of these volunteers matter. Many of them prefer to speak Spanish, even if the girls in their lives do not."

Another fabulous resource for linking content and language in marketing strategies via technology is Joe Kutchera's book, Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content, which we've mentioned before. However, we think it deserves another mentioning!!

So, what are you doing to market your organization or business? Bravo to the Girl Scouts for catching on to the need for Spanish-language content, as well as to Giovanni and Joe for being leaders in getting the word out about the need for such materials and content!