Translating Health Care Documents to Spanish

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – Second Part

In our last article, we discussed the benefits of translating health care materials into Spanish, and looked at some of the steps involved in the process. Once the decision has been made to translate the materials, the next step is to find a qualified translator. Here, we offer you a guide to recruiting qualified medical translators and to ensuring that the finished product is useable and fit for purpose.

Recruiting a qualified medical translator

Recruiting a qualified medical translator entails much more than finding someone who is bilingual. Although this is one of the necessary qualifications, a translator employed to translate health care materials must also possess considerable expertise and experience in the subject matter to be able to understand the source text.

A key decision is whether to employ a freelance medical translator or a translation agency. Although freelancers can be seen as a less expensive option, translation agencies offer a more comprehensive service, providing a whole team that will see a translation project through from start to finish. A project manager heads a team of translators and proofreaders, meaning that you save valuable time, which in effect saves you money.

Negotiating terms

After finding a qualified medical translator, terms need to be negotiated in regards to fees, completion dates and payment terms.

Spanish translators can charge in different ways, generally per word or per page. However, if the project is for a specific format, such as a pamphlet created in InDesign, translators may also quote a DTP fee. Where specialized knowledge and experienced is called for, higher costs should be expected.

Negotiations should be clear from the outset and should include that the translator will commit to staying with the project until completion. This should include proofreading and final revisions.

A further advantage of using a translation agency is that they usually offer discounts for large projects or for nonprofit organizations.

Development Phase

Throughout the development stage of a health care translation, close contact should be maintained between all parties, so that the translator can ask for clarification when needed. If the translation is a long-term project, possible reviews and updates should be specified in the quote.

Revisions

The revision stage can either be carried out by the translation agency, which will use other qualified medical translators within its team to review the document, or it can be carried out by the client. However, if you were to undertake the review process yourself, it is paramount that the reviewer is a Spanish native speaker and ideally has extensive experience in both translation and the medical topic in hand. Grammatical construction and usage, spelling and use of expressions should all be taken in consideration.

Final proofreading

If the translator or translation agency is not in charge of the Desktop Publishing task, the translator should be available to do a final proofreading of the text once it has been integrated into its final design format.

Although producing and translating health care materials into Spanish can be an investment in terms of both time and money, it is becoming an essential process in a country like the US which has a large Hispanic population. The benefits of the investment far outweigh the risks to patient health and the careers of health care providers.

Health Care translations for the Hispanic Population

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – First Part

Consider for a moment what it would be like if you broke your arm on holiday in Mexico. One minute you’re enjoying soaking up the sun in your resort, the next you slip on your way to the pool, and you’re on your way to hospital not understanding a word anyone says around you. From start to finish you don’t understand questions that are asked of you, never mind being able to answer them, and you realize that this communication barrier puts you at risk.

The situation is no better for the health care professionals at the hospital. As a doctor or nurse, treating patients you cannot communicate with is far from ideal. On the one hand, they are injured or sick and require treatment, but on the other hand medical treatment requires understanding and consent; proceeding without this is a risk to the patient and to the doctor´s reputation and career.

This exact situation is why producing and translating materials into different languages is an essential part of health care.

Why provide health care documents in Spanish?

Spanish is the second language of the US and 900,000 Hispanics live in North Carolina alone, which is nearly 10% of the state’s population. There is a considerable part of this population that has limited or even no English. Providing health care and medical documents in Spanish aids communication, but these translations need to be accurate and appropriate in order to achieve the following goals:

  • to ensure understanding of diagnosis, treatment and medication schedules, as well as any other educational or informative materials.
  • to eliminate the risk of patients unnecessarily attending services such as the emergency room. For example, a patient with sunstroke may just need rehydrating, but if the source of the problem cannot be communicated, the patient will end up taking up emergency resources.
  • patients will retain medical printed materials if the translation is of a high standard. Badly translated materials or materials in unknown languages are quickly discarded.
  • to protect medical professionals from legal proceedings as a result of miscommunication due to lack of professionally translated information.
  • to eliminate time being wasted trying to communicate in unknown languages.

Remember: Poorly translated medical and health care materials are as much of a risk as having no translated materials at all.  Only accurate, professional Spanish translations will help communication with Hispanic populations.

Recommended steps for health care translations

There are certain recommended steps that should be taken when planning health care translations.

Preliminary planning

Spend some time investigating whether the information you want to translate into Spanish already exists in your organization. If translated materials are already available, consider how you will evaluate them. The level of accuracy will need to be checked thoroughly as mistranslated information makes the purpose of a translation null and void. The reading level will need to be assessed to ensure it is of the correct level for the target audience, in certain situations a simplified text will be more appropriate.

Evaluating existing Spanish materials

When there is a sudden need for health care materials in Spanish, medical settings may use existing translations without evaluating them first. However, the evaluation step is crucial to ascertain if the material is accurate, appropriate and therefore usable.

This evaluation can be carried out by a Spanish speaker within your organization, or you will need to employ the services of a Spanish-speaking proofreader or editor who will be able to compare the content to the English version and check the quality and accuracy of the translation.

Other points that should be thoroughly checked include whether the text is culturally appropriate, whether it targets its audience in the appropriate way and finally whether it reflects your health care setting’s recommendations and provides up-to-date information.

Remember: Ordering pre-existing bilingual materials from a catalog or agency is no guarantee of quality and very few medical organizations have their own evaluation procedure.

How to present Spanish translated materials

Another important step when considering translating medical materials into Spanish is how they will be presented. There are various options to choose from:

  • having two separate versions: one in English, one in Spanish.
  • having one document with both languages. For one-page documents the English could be on one side and the Spanish on the other. For longer documents the translations could be separated into different sections, or the Spanish could be set in a block next to the English text.
  • including the Spanish under each line of English. However, this method tends to be used more for forms, as it looks untidy and can be hard to follow in extended pieces of texts.

In our next post, we will discuss how to recruit qualified translators, negotiate terms, the development phase and how to review and proofread translated materials.

How to translate a brochure to Spanish

Translating Brochures into Spanish: Best Practices

In the age of websites, questions are raised over whether translating brochures into Spanish, and indeed other languages, is still necessary.

Here, we explain why it is still an essential part of marketing and look at the best practices of this type of translation.

The need for brochure translation

However well-designed, effective and multilingual a company website is, the need for brochure translation as a marketing and sales tool remains.

Well-designed and well-written brochures give an impression of the wealth and success of a company, building client confidence. Without one, there is a time delay between referring a client to your website and the client actually looking. This allows for the risk factor of the client not taking the time to actually do so, or being attracted by the competition. Handing over a marketing material in paper form or emailing it directly into an inbox means potential clients have something concrete to refer to without trawling a website.

Paper form is particular beneficial for those who process better on paper, who need to feel something, be able to handle it, flick back and forth. Staring at a screen simply doesn’t allow information to be processed in the same way. This type of person will likely write on a paper brochure, underline, highlight and basically ‘think on paper’.

Spanish brochure translation

Spanish brochure translation is particularly beneficial, given the status of the language both in the US and worldwide. One of the six official languages of the US, 17.6% of the population declares Spanish as their first language. With over 472 million native speakers throughout 21 countries worldwide, Spanish is currently the second most spoken language in the world. Producing unilingual sales tools will limit reach dramatically.

What to consider when translating a brochure into Spanish

Factors to consider with Spanish brochure translation include:

  • Are you targeting a specific Spanish speaking audience or should neutral Spanish be used?
  • In order to obtain an accurate quote, most translation agencies request to review the document. Unless the brochure was created with MS Word, a PDF version rather than the source file is usually preferred.  If sending the entire file is not possible, a sizeable sample and the total word count will help the translation provider prepare the quote. Other information such as deadlines will also be necessary.
  • Decide who will be doing the desktop publishing. A brochure is usually created with a DTP program such as Adobe InDesign and if you want it with same format as the source document, you will need to pay for the agency to carry out the DTP task and the source file will be needed for the translator. Even if it is done with MS Word, the format can still be complex, so ensure to confirm with the translation agency if the format is included in the final price. The other alternative is to send the file in Word format and assign the DTP task to a qualified member within your team.
  • The translation should always be proofread. This can either be done by someone in your company, or the translation agency can assign a second translator do this. Also, consider asking the agency to review the final version once it is print-ready, if you are doing the DTP yourself.
  • Consideration needs to be given to the design. A translation from English into Spanish will have 15-30 percent more text, potentially creating the need for a different layout.  Features such as syllable separation, inverted exclamation and question marks, accents and the use of different characters such as ñ and ü all need to be considered.

Deciding to translate a brochure into Spanish means that you will be increasing the number of people reached, and in turn this will increase business for your company. Choosing the right translation agency and taking into consideration the above points will help you produce a professional Spanish brochure.

 

Translation agency

When choosing a translation agency is the right choice

The translation agency versus freelance translator decision is an important one for any company that is in need of translation work. As money is a key issue for any business, some companies automatically lean towards a freelancer, thinking they will be the less expensive choice, but is that always the right choice?

Advantages of translation agencies vs. freelance translators

Although at first glance, a translation agency may be a little more expensive, in the long run many companies find that it is far more time and cost effective to go through agencies than deal with a private freelancer.

Project team

One of the main advantages of a translation company is the fact that they have a team of translators, overseen by a project manager. This means that the correct translator for your specialized area will be chosen, ensuring high quality of work. Freelance translators generally only have one or two specialties.

In addition, a team means that there is always somebody to cover the work if a translator falls ill or becomes unavailable at the last minute. Choosing a freelancer means that there is a high risk of delay if anything unexpected arises.

Timeframes

In the event that you have a very large translation project, multiple translators will be assigned, meaning that the work can be turned around in a very short timeframe. The project manager will deal with all communications between the team, saving you time and making the whole project much more time efficient.

Proofreading and quality verification

Proofreading your own work is almost an impossible task, as however dedicated a freelancer is, it is very difficult to spot every typo or grammar error when you have written the text yourself. Most translation agencies provide a proofreading and quality verification service, meaning that translations are checked by a second translator, and when multiple translators are used for high volume projects, the work will be standardized to ensure consistency. Remember to check with the translation agency if revisions are made by a different translator than the one that translated the text

Other advantages

Other advantages of using a translation agency over a freelance translator are that there are generally more payment options available with agencies such as credit cards, and they are also more likely to have more advanced translation technologies that remain unaffordable for many freelancers.

Time is money

The reason we say that it can be more cost effective to go through an agency is that, quite simply, time is money. How much is you time worth? If you are spending time communicating with multiple freelancers, proofreading work and essentially project managing the translation project yourself, how much is that actually costing your company? Your time could be spent elsewhere. The difference in cost between an agency and a freelancer is often surprisingly negligible, especially when you take into consideration the above points.

questions translators

Questions to ask clients during the translation process

Translation projects are important and a part of the overall creation of useful content for companies. There are many problems though that may surface during such a project. One of the most important issue faced by a translator is the right understanding of specific terms. Many translators believe that it may be unprofessional to ask for clarification as this could show lack of knowledge, but, on the contrary, asking the right questions and in the right way during a translation project will show that you are going out of your way to deliver an accurate translation.

Questions before the Project

All translation projects should be preceded by obtaining some basic information which will allow you to understand the right context. The first question to ask is: who is the target audience? You should also find out if the client can provide some reference material such as glossaries or any previous translation they have done of similar content. Another key aspect is the tone of the translation because some languages such as Spanish have distinct informal and formal tones.

Questions during the Project

Clients often need to translate documents which are specific to their industry and it is difficult to understand a term or acronym which is used internally in a company. However, make sure to only include questions which you have not been able to search out satisfactory answers for. You should always refer to dictionaries, forums and do a research in the web before contacting a client.

Don´t rush and email your client if you come up with a question in the first page of a text. A good rule of thumb is to read the whole document first or check if the term in question appears more times in the document so that you have more context to understand it.

It is very common to come up with typos in the source document and you should always query your customer if you think there is an error which could change the meaning of a sentence. You will definitely score some points with your client if you identify these type of errors which are usually overlooked.

If you have too many questions which do not prevent you from continuing translating, a good option is to insert the questions as comments, your client can have a look at them once the translation is finished and answer you back inserting comments as well.

The right questions will not bring your value down, rather raise your prestige as a translator who values his clients and aims to deliver a professional translation, turning a one-time customer into a return customer.

industry

Top trends in the translation industry

Looking back last year, 2015 was undoubtedly a period of prosperity for the translation industry and if facts are to be believed, the amount of business in this sector has recorded a growth of around 6.5 percent this year.

In recent years, demand for translation industries has seen an upward trend. This is mainly due to the tremendous communication needs of the 21st century that has led governments and organizations to seek help in breaking the language barrier. Therefore, without ambiguity, the translation industry is one of the fastest growing in the world.

So, without further ado—let’s explore the 4 principal trends making waves this year!

Trend #1: An increasing demand for language translations

Despite of what you may think, “minor” languages spoken around the world are not fading away. As a matter of fact, demand for multilingual online content is going through an upward trend with English dominating the translation industry at 53.6 percent, while Russian, Chinese, Spanish and French are aggressively following.

By now you know what it means—it means more expansion opportunities for businesses, and to reach out to the international market, the demand for translators will keep on flourishing.

Trend #2: It’s time for quality OVER cost

Since businesses are always looking for ways to expand and increase market share, they are bound to search for exceptional translation service providers to benefit them with high quality service rather than opting for cheap low cost providers. In the translation market, it is imperative to constitute your credentials and portray your organizations image positively in the global market so as to be able to leverage status and negotiate power.

Trend #3: Voice based translation will be in more demand

Today, companies are looking for more novel ways to market their business in the global market. Gone are the days when simple plain text was translated to capture a new language market. From where we look, both audio and video translation service can excitedly change the way translation companies work.

Hence, to keep up with the ever-increasing demand, translation agencies should hire translators or train existing ones to provide with acceptable voice over translation service.

Trend #4: Human translation will still be superior over machine translation

Machine translation basically refers to instruments such as Bing translator, Google translator, etc. doing the job for you. While these smart tools are rising slowly, it is not recommended to use them often, unless it’s for personal use.

Currently, online tools cannot comprehend the context of your content, for example, your content can be used for marketing, as white paper, for a website or instruction manual, etc. Additionally, they are also limited by the amount of words they can translate per minute.

To convey the purpose of your brand and deliver the right message to your audience, you need a human to effectively translate the essence (and not just a literal meaning) of your message. A machine is a machine after all; some jobs are left best in human hands!

The aforementioned are top four exclusive key tends in the translation industry that you should follow! Let us know what you think is the most essential to the industry. Do you have more to add to the list?

Hispanics in USA

Hispanics in the United States – Stats and Facts

56.6 million

According to U.S Census Bureau, on July 1 2015, Hispanics constituted 17.6 percent of the US nation’s total population, making people of Hispanic origin the nation´s largest ethnic or race minority. The Hispanic population grew by 2.2% percent, rising 1.2 million between July 1 2014 and July 1 2015. This increase accounts for almost half of the growth in the total population of the United States, which stood at 2.5 million for the same period.

By 2060, the US Census Bureau estimates that the Hispanic population in the US will stand at 119 million and constitute 28.6 percent of the total US nation’s population.

Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Language Preference

In 2014, 58 percent of Spanish speakers and 57 percent of Hispanic Spanish speakers in the US were reported to speak English ‘very well’. As the Hispanic population has increased, so has the number of US residents who speak Spanish within the home, with an increase 126.3 percent in comparison to 1990.

Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Hispanic Origins: 2014
Mexican 63.9
Guatemalan 2.4
Salvadoran 3.8
Cuban 3.7
Dominican 3.2
Puerto Rican 9.5
South American, Central American and other Hispanic or Latino origin – the remainder

Hispanic population in the US foreign-born 35 percent

Notes:
1) The “Central American” group includes people who reported “Costa Rican,” “Honduran,” “Nicaraguan,” “Panamanian,” Central American Indian groups, and “Canal Zone.”
2)  The “South American” group includes people who reported “Argentinean,” “Bolivian,” “Chilean,” “Colombian,” “Ecuadorian,” “Paraguayan,” “Peruvian,” “Uruguayan,” “Venezuelan,” South American Indian groups, and “South American.”
3) The “Other Hispanic” group includes people who reported “Spaniard,” as well as “Hispanic” or “Latino” and other general terms.
Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Hispanic Population Figures in States and Counties: 2015

  • 1 million+: the number of Hispanic residents in the states of California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, New York, New Mexico, Illinois, New Jersey and Colorado.
  • 2 million: California was home to the largest Hispanic population out of all the states.
  • 5 percent: the number of US residents of Hispanic origin in the US living in California, Texas and Florida.
  • 9 million: the largest population of Hispanics in any county was found in Los Angeles County.
  • 49,000: the increase of Hispanics in Harris County in Texas between 2014 and 2015; the largest increase in any state

Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html


Jobs and Median Household Income

67.1 percent of Hispanics aged 16 or over were employed in the civilian labor force in 2014, of which 20.4 percent held business, science, management, and arts occupations.

Median incomes:

United States $53,657
Hispanic/Latino $42,491

Source http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Education

In 2014, 16.4 percent of undergraduate or graduate students students were of Hispanic origin, and 24.0 percent of elementary and high school students. 65.3 percent of Hispanics aged 25+ had completed their high-school education and 14.4 percent had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Families and Children

In the year 2015, there were 16.2 million Hispanic households in the US.

Hispanic (percent) US (percent)
Married-couple Households (2015) 47.7 48.2
Married-couple households with children younger than 18 at home (2015) 57.6 64.3
Families including two parents (2015) 66.8 69.5
Married couples with children under 18 with both parents working (2014) 46.0 59.7

Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Hispanic/Latino Business

Between 2007 and 2012 there was a 46.3 percent increase in the estimated number of Hispanic-owned firms within the whole of the US, from 2.3 million to 3.3 million. 91.3% of these 3.3 million firms had no employees, compared to 80.4 percent of US firms.

Hispanic-owned companies reported sales totaling $437.8 million, $78.7 million of which was from firms owned by Hispanic women.

Source: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html

Spanish in the World

  • Some countries or areas with significant Spanish-speaking populations include Andorra, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Gibraltar, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, the United States and Venezuela.
  • Over 472 million people in the world speak Spanish as their first language. If we include the number of people who are fluent in Spanish as a second language, the total number of Spanish speakers in the world is well over 570 million people.
  • Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
  • Spanish is the second world language as a vehicle of international communication and the third as an international language of politics, economics and culture.
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.

Voseo

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.

british-en-vs-american-en

British English versus American English

American English is the form of English used in the United States.

British English is the form of English used in the United Kingdom and the rest of the British Isles. It includes all English dialects used within the British Isles.

American English in its written form is standardized across the U.S. (and in schools abroad specializing in American English). Though not devoid of regional variations, particularly in pronunciation and vernacular vocabulary, American speech is somewhat uniform throughout the country, largely due to the influence of mass communication and geographical and social mobility in the United States. After the American Civil War, the settlement of the western territories by migrants from the Eastern U.S. led to dialect mixing and leveling, so that regional dialects are most strongly differentiated along the Eastern seaboard. The General American accent and dialect (sometimes called ‘Standard Midwestern’), often used by newscasters, is traditionally regarded as the unofficial standard for American English.

British English has a reasonable degree of uniformity in its formal written form, which, as taught in schools, is largely the same as in the rest of the English-speaking world (except North America). On the other hand, the forms of spoken English – dialects, accents and vocabulary – used across the British Isles vary considerably more than in most other English-speaking areas of the world, even more so than in the United States, due to a much longer history of dialect development in the English speaking areas of Great Britain and Ireland. Dialects and accents vary, not only between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (which constitute the United Kingdom), plus the Republic of Ireland, but also within these individual countries. There are also differences in the English spoken by different socio-economic groups in any particular region. Received Pronunciation (RP) (also referred to as BBC English or Queen’s English) has traditionally been regarded as ‘proper English’ – ‘the educated spoken English of south-east England’. The BBC and other broadcasters now intentionally use a mix of presenters with a variety of British accents and dialects, and the concept of ‘proper English’ is now far less prevalent.

British and American English are the reference norms for English as spoken, written, and taught in the rest of the world; for instance, the English-speaking members of the Commonwealth of Nations often (if not usually) closely follow British orthography, and many new Americanisms quickly become familiar outside of the United States. Although the dialects of English used in the former British Empire are often, to various extents, fairly close to standard British English, most of the countries concerned have developed their own unique dialects, particularly with respect to pronunciation, idioms, and vocabulary; chief among them are, at least for number of speakers, Australian English and Canadian English.

Idioms

A number of English idioms that have essentially the same meaning show lexical differences between the British and the American version; for instance:

British – American
not touch something with a bargepole – not touch something with a ten-foot pole
sweep under the carpet – sweep under the rug
touch wood – knock on wood
throw a spanner -throw a (monkey) wrench
tuppence worth also two pennies’ worth, two pence worth or two pennyworth) – two cents’ worth
skeleton in the cupboard – skeleton in the closet
a home from home -a home away from home
blow one’s trumpet – blow (or toot) one’s horn
storm in a teacup – tempest in a teapot
a drop in the ocean – a drop in the bucket
flogging a dead horse – beating a dead horse
In some cases the “American” variant is also used in British English, or vice versa.

Vocabulary

British – American
autumn – fall
aerial – antenna
bank note – bill
barrister – lawyer
bill (restaurant) -check
biscuit – cookie
bonnet (car) – hood
boot (car) – truck
chips – French fries
cooker – stove
crossroad – intersection
curtains – drapes
dustbin – garbage can
engine – motor
film -movie
flat – apartment
football – soccer
garden – yard
handbag – purse
holiday – vacation
jumper – sweater
lift – elevator
to let – to rent
lorry – truck
metro, underground, tube – subway
nappy – diaper
pavement – sidewalk
petrol – gas, gasoline
post – mail
postcode – zip code
queue – line
railway – railroad
solicitor – attorney
tap – faucet
taxi – cab
trousers – pants
wardrobe – closet
windscreen – windshield

Spelling

British – American
colour – color
favourite – favorite
honour – honor
analyse – analyze
criticise – criticize
memorise – memorize
enrolment – enrollment
fulfil – fulfill
skilful – skillful
centre – center
metre – meter
theatre – theater
analogue – analog
catalogue – catalog
dialogue – dialog
jewellery – jewelry
draught – draft
pyjamas – pajamas
plough – plow
programme – program
tyre – tire
cheque – check
mediaeval – medieval
defence – defense
licence – license

Implications for Translators

If you translate into Spanish from English, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to work from a document in either American or British English regardless of your country of origin.  However, some clients request that a document be translated from Spanish into either British or American English.  Because of the very subtle grammatical differences, it wouldn’t be wise to translate into an English dialect that you are not intimately familiar with.

If you are a client who needs to have your document translated into a specific dialect of English, make sure that your translator is a native of the country which you will target with your translation.  If this isn’t possible, then make sure that the translator you entrust with your document is either currently living in the country (i.e. an American translator residing in England) or has lived in the country for a substantial amount of time (i.e. a Brit who went to college and worked in the U.S. for several years).

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).