Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"In the translation business, one size does not fit all"

In an article published today on, Dana Sanchez writes how "...some tourist organizations are translating their published materials into other languages."

It goes on to say that not only other languages should be considered, but also dialects, mentioning, among other things, how the material was made available in several different varieties of Spanish, because "Any business that wants to communicate effectively with the Spanish-speaking audience needs to take dialect into account[...]: 'One size does not fit all'".

Currently there seems to be a real fixation, especially in the US, about translating into regional varieties of Spanish (a customer of ours even asked about "Virginia Spanish", under the impression that the Hispanic population resident in Virginia spoke a distinct variety of the language, presumably different from North Carolina Spanish, Maryland Spanish, or whatever).

However, several excellent Spanish-speaking linguists, from different countries, have pointed out that such differences are mostly in the mind of customers that do not speak Spanish themselves, and that any educated person from a Spanish-speaking country would have no difficulty communicating with people from other Spanish-speaking countries.

An excellent presentation about this was given by Guillermo Cabanellas at last year's ATA Conference in Seattle.

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