Castilian and Latin American Spanish

The Differences between Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish

Castilian Spanish – so named for its roots in the region of Castile – emerged from Spain’s many regional languages and dialects to become the primary language of the nation. Castilian Spanish was later brought to the New World through the colonization efforts of the Spanish, where the language enjoyed widespread adoption throughout the Americas. Over time, Latin American Spanish has evolved in its own right to contain various features that distinguish it from European Spanish.

The use of the term “castellano” as opposed to “español” when referring to the Spanish language may be interpreted in a number of ways. Since there are several official languages in Spain including Catalan, Basque, and Galician, the word “castellano” is often used to differentiate the Spanish language from these regional languages. Castellano may also be used to refer to regional dialects of the Spanish language spoken in Castile, for example, Andalusian. Many times – particularly outside of Spain – castellano and español are utilized interchangeably and simply refer to the Spanish language as a whole.

The terms Castilian Spanish or castellano are often used to draw a distinction between the Spanish spoken in Spain (Peninsular Spanish) and Latin American Spanish; however, this usage is somewhat misleading since Spanish speakers in Latin America also speak what are essentially dialects of Castilian Spanish as opposed to a distinct language, as is often implied.

Many Spanish speakers in Latin America customarily refer to their language as castellano as opposed to español. For example, Southern Cone countries such as Argentina and Uruguay have a tendency to refer to Spanish as castellano, while other parts of South America alternate between the use of the terms español and castellano. In the U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Spanish is almost exclusively referred to as español.

While there is no generic form of Latin American Spanish, many countries share several features of pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar that set apart Latin American Spanish from Castilian Spanish.

Phonological (Pronunciation) Differences

Distinción, seseo, and ceceo

Distinción, one of the standard phonological characteristics of Peninsular Spanish, results in the pronunciation of the letter c (when it appears before an e or an i) and the letter z as th, the sound [θ] that occurs in English as the th in thing. In addition, the sound [s] is pronounced as the s in see. Generally speaking, distinción is characteristic of speakers in northern and central Spain.

In other dialects, the phonemes c, z and s have merged together, producing seseo where they have been neutralized to [s] and the much rarer phenomenon ceceo where they have become [θ]. Seseo can be heard in virtually all of Latin America, as well as the Canary Islands and portions of southern Spain. Ceceo is largely confined to particular areas of southern Spain.

Lexical (Vocabulary) Differences

Another significant difference between Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish is that different words may be used to describe the same object or action, or the same word may have one meaning in Spain but a completely different meaning in Latin America.

Here are some examples of differences in vocabulary between Spain and Latin America:

English Castilian Spanish (Spain) Latin American Spanish
peach melocotón durazno
computer ordenador computadora
potato patata papa
match cerilla fósforo
to miss echar de menos extrañar

Latin American Spanish has been greatly influenced by contact with indigenous Americans and their native languages, with Taíno, Nahuatl and Quechua having the greatest impact. Latin American speakers are also more receptive to incorporating direct loanwords from English and other foreign languages than Spanish speakers in Spain.

Grammar Differences

Use of vosotros

Most speakers of Castilian Spanish use the familiar second-person plural form vosotros when addressing a group of family or friends. The use of vosotros is completely absent in Latin America, with New World speakers opting to use the third-person plural form of ustedes in situations where Peninsular Spanish speakers would use vosotros.


The second-person singular pronoun vos is employed by some Latin Americans, particularly in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Central America, and portions of Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile. In some countries such as Argentina, vos is used as a replacement for the pronoun tú, while in other countries it is employed alongside tú in specific social situations.

Verb tenses

Peninsular Spanish and Latin American Spanish often make different uses of certain verb tenses. Castilian Spanish employs the present perfect tense in cases where only the simple past is used in Latin America. The construction ir + a + infinitive is preferred in Latin America, while Spanish speakers in Spain tend to use the future tense more often.

Despite the differences that have been outlined between Castilian Spanish and the dialects of Spanish spoken in Latin America, the beauty of Spanish is that regardless of the dialect that one speaks, Spanish speakers can communicate throughout the Spanish-speaking world with minimal difficulties.

Spanish Language

Spanish Language Characteristics. Spanish in the World.

Spanish is the most widely spoken of the Romance languages, both in terms of number of speakers and the number of countries in which it is the dominant language. Besides being spoken in Spain, it is the official language of all the South American countries except Brazil and Guyana, of the six republics of Central America, as well as of Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Additionally, it is spoken in parts of Morocco and the west coast of Africa, and also in Equatorial Guinea. In the United States it is widely spoken in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California (in New Mexico it is co-official with English), in New York City by the large Puerto Rican population, and more recently in southern Florida by people who have arrived from Cuba. A variety of Spanish known as Ladino is spoken in Turkey and Israel by descendants of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. All told there are about 350 million speakers of Spanish.

Pronunciation and usage of Spanish naturally vary between countries, but regional differences are not so great as to make the language unintelligible to speakers from different areas. The purest form of Spanish is known as Castilian, originally one of the dialects that developed from Latin after the Roman conquest of Hispania in the 3rd century A.D. After the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Spain was overrun by the Visigoths, and in the 8th century the Arabic-speaking Moors conquered all but the northernmost part of the peninsula. In the Christian reconquest, Castile, an independent kingdom, took the initiative and by the time of the unification of Spain in the 15th century, Castilian had become the dominant dialect. In the years that followed, Castilian, now Spanish, became the language of a vast empire in the New World.

Spanish vocabulary is basically of Latin origin, though many of the words differ markedly from their counterparts in French and Italian. Many words beginning with f in other Romance languages begin with h in Spanish (e.g., hijo-son, hilo-thread). The Moorish influence is seen in the many words beginning with al- (algodón-cotton, alfombra-rug, almohada-pillow, alfiler-pin). As in British and American English, there are differences in vocabulary on the two sides of the ocean (also in mainland Spain).

Spanish is spoken/used in the following countries: Argentina, Aruba (Dutch), Belize (British Honduras), Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Gibraltar (U.K.), Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico (U.S.), Spain, St. Kitts (& Nevis) Independent, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (U.S.).

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Romance

Question and exclamation marks: In Spanish there are opening question and exclamation marks, ¿ and ¡, which can appear right at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.

Measurements: Metric are the only official measurements. Imperial measurements must be converted into metric. However, there are some instances of the use of inches, such as in screen sizes.

Time: Spain uses the 24-hour clock, i.e. 10.00 / 15.00.

Date: The format is 25/08/99 or 25-08-99. Spanish uses a decimal comma (3,7%), and a dot after 999 (16.000).

Gender: Spanish has masculine and feminine genders. The gender affects nouns, adjectives, demonstratives, possessives and articles, but not verbs, e.g. Está cansada (She’s tired), Está cansado (He’s tired).

Plurals: Generally speaking, the plural is formed by adding ‘s’ to words ending in a vowel and by adding ‘-os’ or ‘-es’ to words ending in a consonant. This is however, governed by a set of rules.

One letter words: One letter words include: a, e (replaces ‘y’ (= and) before a word beginning with ‘i’), o, u (replaces ‘o’ (= or) before a word beginning with an ‘o’).

Capitalization: Occurs at the beginning of sentences and for proper names. Unlike English, days of the week/months of the year/languages/nationalities/managerial posts like gerente general, do not take a capital letter.

Double consonants: The only groups of two equal consonants are the following: cc, ll, nn, rr.

End-of-line hyphenation: With regard to end-of-line hyphenation, it is best to leave words whole in normal text and leave hyphenation for restricted text boxes, columns, etc. However, if absolutely necessary, a single consonant between two vowels joins the second. Hyphenation between two consonants applies. Examples: in-novador, ten-síon, ac-ceso. However, there are exceptions in the case of the following groups: pr, pl, br, bl, fr, fl, tr, dr, cr, cl, gr, rr, ll, ch (e.g., ca-ble, ma-cro, I-rracional). Between three consonants, the first two will go with the preceding vowel and the third with the following vowel (e.g., trans-por-te), except in the case of the aforementioned consonant groups, in which the first one will go with the preceding vowel and the third with the following vowel (e.g., im-presora, des-truir).

Avoid hyphenation: Between two vowels. When the result will appear rude (e.g., dis -puta, tor-pedo). It is advised that the last line in a paragraph contains more than four characters (punctuation marks included).

Tú and Usted: The familiar form of you is tú and verbs used with tú are conjugated in the 2nd person. The formal form of you is usted and verbs used with usted are conjugated in the 3rd person. The familiar form is used with friends or with people who are younger than you. The formal form is used when you speak Spanish with elders or people you don’t know.

Ser vs Estar: Two verbs in Spanish express “to be”: ser, and estar. In general, “ser” expresses permanent states, such as Soy alto (I am tall) or Somos de Argentina (We are from Argentina). Estar expresses temporary conditions, such as Estoy cansado (I am tired) or La calle está mojada (The street is wet).

Facts about the rapid growth of the Spanish language

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Vice President of Spain, recently recalled the roots and history of the Spanish language. She noted the landmarks and influencers of the language that helped to grow Spanish around the world. Such ventures include the expeditions of Christopher Columbus and the philosophy of writers like Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez. Through this introduction she outlined fundamental aspects of Spanish that are key to understanding the growth of the language today.

  • Spanish is the first language of 470 million people around the world.
  • Forty-five of these 470 million people do not reside in a country where Spanish is the official language as there are only 21 countries who have Spanish as the official  language.
  • Forty-one million Americans are Spanish native speakers.
  • Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the world and currently Spanish speakers represent 7.9% of the total population. This means that in the next generation one in ten people in the world will speak Spanish.
  • Spanish is the third language most used on the internet, with a total of 8% of users.
  • The use of Spanish in the internet grew more than 1,000% between 2000 and 2013.
  • There are approximately 20-25 million people around the world that study Spanish
  • The number of American university students enrolled in Spanish courses exceeds the total students enrolled in other languages.
  • In 2050, the United States will be the first Spanish-speaking country in the world.
  • An average of 185,000 Spanish books per year are produced throughout Spanish-speaking countries.

Lunfardo: what do “garpar” and “garpe” mean?

One of the most interesting features of Lunfardo – an Argentine dialect of Spanish that arose in the late 19th century among petty criminals living with immigrants and native Argentines in the sheet metal tenements of lower-class Buenos Aires neighborhoods – is its great capacity for metathesis, the re-arrangement of sounds or syllables in a word. This local form of syllabic metathesis is known as “vesre” which is, in itself, a metathesis of “revés.” This phenomenon occurs not only with nouns – “feca” for “café”, for example – but also with verbs…and the verbs are then conjugated based on the vesre infinitive.


So, “pagar” (“to pay”) becomes “garpa”, from which – because it sounds like a third-person singular present conjugation – speakers intuitively form the infinitive “garpar”, in analogy with other -ar verbs, resulting in the infinitive “garpar”.

But it doesn’t stop there: the verb “garpar” has, in turn, given us “garpe”, a noun used in the expressions “dejar (a alguien) de garpe” or “ser dejado de garpe (por alguien)” meaning “to stand someone up” and that originates in the idea of leaving someone holding the bill after a meal shared among several people.

Here are a few examples:

Decile al quía que tiene que garpar. Tell the guy he has to pay.

No tenía para garpar la entrada y lo encaró al chancho. He didn´t have any money to pay for the ticket, and he confronted the ticket inspector.

Le garpé 5 mangos. I paid him five bucks.

La dejaron de garpe y se calentó. She was stood up and she got mad.

New Spanish Certification Test Created

Students of most major foreign languages can demonstrate their skill level via a variety of internationally-recognized tests, including the TOEFL and IELTS for English, the DALF for French and the Goethe-Zertifikat for German.


Spanish Certification


Until just a couple of months ago, however, Spanish had no international exam for certifying proficiency.

This unfortunate situation has now been remedied with the creation of the SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española) exam, developed jointly by Spain’s Cervantes Institute and the prestigious National Autonomous University of Mexico and University of Salamanca, the two largest and oldest centers of higher learning in the Spanish-speaking world, respectively.

Presented by Spain’s King Felipe – who said “We were missing a flexible, highly respected certificate of proficiency in Spanish as a foreign language along the lines of those offered for the English language” in his speech delivered in Mexico City this past July 2 – this new exam has a pan-Hispanic approach, specifically including Spanish’s different linguistic varieties and different geographic variations. It is hoped that this will allow it to become a globally recognized language certificate.

The SIELE will be available at the start of the next academic year in three countries: Brazil, with 120 test centers, the U.S. with 100 test centers, and China, with 61. The forecasts are for some 300,000 candidates the first year alone, with that figure predicted to rise to 750,000 within the first five years. The cost for all four parts of the exam is expected to be about $100, though this may vary from country to country.

Thoroughly modern, this exam – which tests the four core communication skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening – will be taken on-line and can be administered practically anywhere in the world. Not a level-based pass/fail exam, the SIELE is an adaptable placement test that picks the exercises test-takers complete based on their previous responses, returning a proficiency score ranging from 0 to 1,000. Candidates may choose to take any or all of the sections.

The reading and listening portions will be evaluated immediately, while the writing and speaking tests (this latter is recorded in case the grade is contested) will be evaluated by qualified experts using grading scales and will be available within three weeks. Disputes will be settled by a second evaluator. Those taking all four sections will receive a certificate, while those taking one to three sections will receive the graded exams. Results will be valid for two years. The scores given will correspond to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, with the award of an A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2 certificate, depending on the level of mastery achieved, for those taking the entire exam.

The U.S. – Number One in Spanish Speakers by 2050

Español en USA

Today, more than 548 million people – or 6.7% of the world’s population – speak Spanish, and for 470 million of these, Spanish is their native or dominant language, according to the “El Español: Una Lengua Viva” report issued by Instituto Cervantes.

Mexico tops the list with almost 121 million Spanish speakers, followed by Colombia and Spain, with 48 million and 46 million, respectively. In the US, there are 41 million people with Spanish as their native or dominant language, but if you include the 11.6 million second- and third-generation “limited competence” speakers, the total surpasses the number of Spanish speakers in Mexico, Colombia and Spain. The highest concentrations of Spanish speakers can be found in the country’s south and south-west, where 47% of New Mexico residents, 38% of California and Texas residents, and 30% of Arizona residents are Spanish speakers. In the east, 18% of New Yorkers are Spanish speakers. Surprisingly, 6% of Alaska residents also speak Spanish.

For demographic reasons, the growth of Spanish is outstripping that of English and Chinese (the overall percentages of speakers of these languages are decreasing) globally, while some 21 million people are studying Spanish worldwide (7.8 million in the US); Spanish is also the third-most used language used on the Internet. According to this report, by 2030, 7.5% of the world’s population will speak Spanish, and it is predicted that this figure will reach 10% within two or three generations.

In the US, the number of Spanish speakers (native speakers, limited competence speakers and students of Spanish) is expected to reach 138 million, or about 30% of the population by 2050.

Italianisms in Lunfardo – Part II

Continuing on with our last article, on Italianisms in the Lunfardo dialect, which originated in working class districts in Buenos Aires in the late 19th century, below are several more interesting Lunfardo words.

Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires

Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires

Mistongo (from mishio, an Italianism derived from the Genovese miscio) -The original Genovese word meant “without money” and has generalized to include “humble”, “insignificant” and “poor”.

Vento (from vento, an Italianism from the Genovese vento) – The Genovese original meant “money” and still means the same thing in Lunfardo, as well as in the rest of Argentina, and Uruguay. In Río de la Plata, it has specialized into meaning specifically “proceeds of a scam”. It was one of the first Lunfardo words documented and can still be heard today in Buenos Aires.

Funyi (from the Genovese funzo (plural funzi)), derived from the Italian slang fungo (“mushroom” or ”hat” – interestingly, the top part of mushrooms was known as a “hat” in Italian slang). It means “hat”, and has been reported to mean “backside”or “butt” in Uruguay.

Amarrocao (from the Italian marroco, derived from the Turinese maroc, “bread”). It seems that Caló – a language spoken by the Roma – had some influence on the change from -r¬- to -rr¬-, and marroque appears as a phonetic variant. It was marroco that evolved into the derivative verb amarrocar (“to get by” or “to manage”) and this meaning expanded due to its phonetic similarity to amarrar, finally meaning “to pick up something and put it away”. Amarrocao, (picked up and put away”) – the participle form – still exists today.

While most Italianism in Lunfardo are simply “evolved” forms of words borrowed from Italian and its variants, the dialect has an interesting feature known as “vesre”, which is a reversal of the syllable order of a word. The Lunfardo word nami – “girl”, or “woman” – is an example of this phenomenon applied to the Italianism mina, derived from the Italian femmina (“woman”).

Visit other posts to learn more Lunfardo words of Italian origin:

Cocoliche words

Italianisms in Lunfardo – Part I

The Lunfardo dialect of Spanish arose in the last quarter of the 19th century among petty criminals living with immigrants and native Argentines in the conventillos – sheet metal tenements – of lower-class neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Because so many of these immigrants (some ten million between 1821 and 1932) were poorly educated or illiterate Italians speaking their regional dialects, and because of the pressing need to communicate with their Spanish-speaking neighbors and associates, a fluid and linguistically unstable macaronic language called Cocoliche was formed among these first-generation, mostly rural, immigrants, and it is this imperfect form of Italian-flavored Spanish that is the direct cause of most of the non-Spanish words as well as of other lexical changes such as suffixes found in Lunfardo. The very word “Lunfardo” itself is, in fact, an Italianism derived from the word lombardo (someone from Lombardy) in various Italian dialects.

Italianisms in Lunfardo - Argentine Spanish

Conventillo in Buenos Aires – 1914

Today, Lunfardo is no longer associated with petty criminality and the lower social classes, and its Italianisms have earned their own place as part of the dialect, elements of which have spread to other Latin American countries such as Uruguay and Chile.

Following is a sampling of some lexical Italianisms in Lunfardo.

chitrulo (from citrullo) –  the original citrullo means “stupid” or “silly” in several southern Italian dialects and derives from cetriolo, which means “cucumber”

atenti (from attento or attenti) – interjection meaning “to take care”

encanar (from incaenar) – the Italian word means “to chain”, leading to its meaning of “arrest”, “detain” or “incarcerate” in Lunfardo.

furcazo (from forca or fùrca) – This word describes a technique for beating someone up with a blow to the back, the right knee on the kidneys and an elbow holding the neck under the chin, which is its connection to the original words’ meaning (gallows).

morfar (from morfa or morfilar) – The original word means “eat”, and still does so in Lunfardo, although it has expanded to include “to rape”, “to suffer” and “to kill”.

parlar (from parlare) – Unlike standard Spanish, where this word means “to chatter”, parlar retains the original Italian meaning of simply “to talk”.

posta (from Latin appositus to Italian posta) – The original Latin meant “appointed” or “assigned”, which gave rise to the Italian posta (“a place to stay”, “the place for a horse in a stable” and, finally, “set of horses for mail and transport service”). This was adopted into Spanish with the meaning “a soldier standing guard”, which generalized into “to be somewhere on purpose”, which led to the form “aposta”, meaning “on purpose”. It is unknown whether the Lunfardo word derives from the Italian or the Spanish, but it originally meant “comprehensive” or “precise”, from which its current meanings of “good”, “excellent” or “beautiful” arose.

We’ll continue with more Italianisms in Lunfardo next week!

Croqueta, azotea and coco: Some lunfardo words for head

Lunfardo is a rich and often slyly humorous dialect, and nowhere is its imaginative use of language more evident than with the plethora of words it has for “head” (cabeza in standard Spanish).


As can be expected, many of these terms are related to its shape:

coco – coconut

mate – the hollowed-out gourd used for drinking yerba mate

calabaza – pumpkin

sandía – watermelon

cucusa/cucuza – from the Italian cucuzza (pumpkin)

croqueta – croquette

marote – from the French marotte (dummy head used to display wigs or hats)

bocho/bocha – the wooden ball used to play the game of bocce.

Others relate to the head’s position on the body:

azotea – roof terrace

cúpula – cupula or dome

chiminea – chimney

bóveda – dome

terraza – terrace

altiyo – variant spelling of altillo, attic or upper cupboard

capiya – variant spelling of capilla, cowl or hood

coroniya – variant spelling of coronilla, crown or bald patch on the head

Some make reference to the head as the seat of wisdom:

sabiola/sabiondo – from sabio (wise)

And some to its function or action:

sesera – from sesos (brain)

caspera – from caspa (dandruff)

sombrerera – hat holder

rompepeines – comb-breaker

Or to its appearance:

aceitosa – from aceitoso (oily, as in the hair oil formerly used by men before the advent of hair gels)

Other terms refer to it as some kind of mechanical or electronic calculation device:

computadora – computer

carburadora – carburator

I.B.M. – brand of computer

registradora – cash register

Finally, we have the word “testamento”, a play on the words testa (head) and testamento (will and testament)

These words are also found in a number of expressions:

Hacerse el bocho: to have sexual fantasies about someone

Tener gente en la azotea: to be crazy

Estar de la cucuza: to be crazy

No te hagas la croqueta: don’t overthink it

Ser un bocho: to be smart, to be a “brain”

Bilingual drug labels: Can you trust them?

In recent years, laws have been passed in the U.S. at the national and local levels to guarantee that Spanish speakers (and others who don’t speak English) are provided with the instructions for taking the medication in their language. The aim was to make sure that those with a low level of English proficiency were provided with instructions they could understand in order to prevent taking the medication at the wrong dosage or time, thereby making the treatment more effective and less likely to cause an overdose, and leading to a healthier patient and fewer associated costs.


Unfortunately, though, instead of helping matters, it appears that the translations can be wildly inaccurate, leading to confusion and even injuries. What was meant to help the patient get well has instead often hindered this process.

Research carried out in 2010 in a New York City borough with a large Spanish speaking population revealed a veritable tangle of errors that would leave any Spanish speaker at risk of taking the wrong amount at the wrong time, or even of medicating their children or others who depend on their care incorrectly.

Of the 316 pharmacies invited to take part in the research, 286 (91%) agreed to participate. Of these, 209 (73%) provided medicine labels in Spanish, with independent pharmacies more likely to do so than chain or hospital-based pharmacies. Of those providing labeling in Spanish, 86% used one of 14 computerized translation programs to translate the instructions (70% of the pharmacies used one of three different major programs), while 11% used staff members. Only 3% used a professional translator.

Seventy-six medicine labels were assessed by the researchers who found that, while the majority of pharmacies provided labels with instructions in Spanish, a shockingly high 50% of these labels were translated inaccurately, including 43% with incomplete (mixed English and Spanish) translations; an additional six contained misspellings or grammar errors.

These errors were mainly of three types:

Confusing directions: instructions to take the medication “once” a day could be interpreted as being told to take it eleven (spelled “once” in Spanish) times a day, potentially leading to an overdose.

Misspellings: Typing errors by the pharmacist (e.g., “poca” – which means “little” – instead of “boca” – which means “mouth”) could lead to a patient taking less than the prescribed amount. A case in point was the patient who was prescribed iron supplements to treat anemia; the patient was taking only one drop a day instead of the prescribed amount. Fortunately, the physician saw that the patient wasn’t responding as expected to the treatment and took the time to find out what had gone wrong.

Spanglish: Instructions with words like “dropperfuls”, “take with food”, “apply topically”, “for 7 days”, “apply to affected areas” were often simply left altogether untranslated, leaving out information that could very well be essential to the effectiveness of the treatment and thus the health of the patient, and also leading to confusion about the meaning of words (e.g., “once”, above).

Clearly, caring for a patient is a task that must be overseen by human beings able to use their professional judgment, not computer programs incapable of discerning a correct translation from an incorrect one. While health care costs must certainly be efficiently managed and contained to the extent possible, it is obviously counterproductive to provide and pay for treating patients when the very treatment itself may be administered incorrectly, leading to wasted time, effort and medication while at the same time threatening the health of the very person at the center of the treatment program: the patient.

The solution is clear: pharmacies must invest in providing accurate medicine labels so that patients understand the instructions; the costs associated with the financial and social losses arising from mislabeled medicine are far more expensive than hiring professional translators to do the job right from the very beginning.

Pharmacists that understand this and provide their customers with accurate information are likely to enjoy the trust of their customers, gain their loyalty and, in the end, will know that they are fulfilling part of their oath: to embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.