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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.

What information does ATS consider when providing my free quote?

For each project that ATS handles, we consider several different factors when it comes to providing your free quote. We will consider the project type or service you request, the source and target languages of your project, and the timeline in which the project needs to be completed. No matter what project you need handled, ATS will be sure to offer you the most competitive rates possible while taking these items into consideration.

A legal document should be handled differently than a technical operating manual and ATS takes project type into account. Since these two areas are so distinct, we have teams of different linguists who work on each one. It is important that our linguists be highly specialized in the content area you request. We have a wide array of linguists with many specialties, so doing so is usually not a problem. If we do not have a specialist in your project’s subject area, ATS will work to recruit someone who is able to handle your project type.

We also take source and target languages into consideration. Language combinations that are more rare sometimes require us to charge higher rates than some of the more common language combinations, for example.

ATS also takes your desired/needed timeline into consideration when providing your free quote. A job that does not need to be returned immediately, and will not rush the linguists who are working on the project for you, will not require any additional fees. However, if the project turnaround time will require our linguists to work overtime-type hours to finish it within the desired timeline, we may need to add rush fees to the quote. You will have the chance to accept the fees or change the timeline of the project.

Interpreting is quoted differently than document translation, since the services require a different set of skills. Similar to translation, however, the type of interpreting service needed will also be something ATS considers when providing your quote. Interpreting for a surgery is handled differently than interpreting for a legal deposition, for example. ATS offers varying types of interpreting services, such as in-person or over-the-phone interpreting. We also take source and target languages into account, just as we do for document translation, as well as the time required for our interpreter to be available. If an interpreter needs to be available for longer than a normal working period, we may need to charge additional fees.

No matter what project or service you need, ATS will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will always provide you with the most competitive rates possible. Please don’t hesitate to email us at freequote@accessibletranslations.com so that one or our Project Managers can assist you at every step along the way – we are happy to help!

So, what languages can you handle?

Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS) handles a wide array of languages, and this selection of languages is ever-growing. For our most current and up-to-date list of offered languages, please see our List of Languages. If the language you are looking for is not listed here, that does not mean we are unable to provide the service, however. This list of languages is constantly growing depending on our clients’ needs, so we recommend contacting us even if you don’t see the language you need listed.

Our list of languages that we currently offer displays all languages for which we already have a team (or several teams) of linguists we’ve assessed, worked with, and approved to offer quality translation and/or interpreting services for you. Although we have linguists already approved for these language pairs, we will ensure that the best linguists we can provide are assigned to your project. If our current available linguists do not have experience working in the field your project falls into, we will be glad to use our available resources to recruit a team who will be best-suited to perform the work on your project, whenever possible. For example, if your document is a rental agreement, and our linguists with expertise in legal documents are unavailable, we will then recruit another team to ensure the best possible translation.

This is also true for the languages not currently listed on our page. If the language you are working from or into is not listed on our page, please contact us and let us know the details of your project. We will then be able to begin recruiting a team for your project type. We do all of the recruitment and assessment of linguists so that you don’t have to, and so that you can feel comfortable knowing that the right team of linguists is working to provide you with the best service possible. Our Project Management Team will also oversee the project from start to finish, handling all linguist communication, file passes, and quality control. This way, by the time you receive the translated files, you can be sure they have been handled not only a professional team of linguists, but also a quality control check to ensure your files are ready for use in your target language. No matter which language your document would need to be translated from or into, Accessible Translation Solutions is willing and glad to assist with the best team of linguists for your project.

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.