Voting en Español: The U.S. Presidential Race

With an estimated population of 44.3 million as of July 2006, Hispanics are the nation’s largest ethnic minority in the U.S. It’s no wonder that the three main presidential hopefuls (McCain, Obama, and Clinton until just recently) spend a lot of time and money courting this powerful demographic. The political realm is always convoluted and ever-changing, but throughout the presidential race, each contender has reached out to win over the Hispanic community in a variety of ways and to different degrees.

Each candidate has his or her webpage translated into Spanish and clicking through their online information and rhetoric shows varying levels of commitment to swaying the Hispanic vote in their favor.

Take, for instance, Obama’s Spanish language website. While all the navigational buttons are in Spanish, when you click on Temas (Issues), you are taken to a page in English. He also hasn’t updated his blog since the beginning of May.

Senator Hillary Clinton’s Spanish language website has a substantial amount of information and commentary in Spanish. But her navigational buttons are all in English and you must scroll down to the bottom to get to the Spanish information on the right sidebar.

John McCain’s website en Español has the most attractive, eye-catching layout and you can access the majority of his website in Spanish. Upon opening the website, a voice over from a former Cuban political prisoner presents support for McCain’s campaign.

Of course, the measure of a presidential candidate’s dedication to the Hispanic community can’t be solely determined by how well his or her website is translated. Each candidate has aired Spanish language TV and radio spots and both Clinton and Obama have released campaign songs in Spanish.

Follow these links for a sampling of the candidates’ multi-media Spanish outreach:

• John McCain’s first Spanish language ads.

• Barack Obama: Reggaeton campaign song; Viva Obama!; footage of a speech in Spanish.

• Hillary Rodham Clinton: song for Texas primaries; press release announcing ads, including a Spanish language one (note: has been removed from YouTube).

While each candidate purports to reaching out to the Hispanic community Obama seems to be getting the most press for his efforts. HispanicTips, which is a leading blog that compiles news of note for Latinos, is heavy on the Obama article links in their Election ’08 section. All three have web presences in Spanish, but what will really matter to the Latinos is the stance on issues of import that each takes.

Opening a Word 2007 files (docx) in an earlier version of Word.

“.docx” is the new file extension that Microsoft Word 2007 uses when it saves documents in the new default format.

To open Microsoft Office Word 2007 .docx or .docm files with Microsoft Office Word 2003, Word 2002, or Word 2000, you need to install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for 2007 Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint File Formats and any necessary Office updates. By using the Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office system, you can open, edit some items, and save Office Word 2007 documents in previous versions of Word.

Although you can open Office Word 2007 files in previous versions of Word, you may not be able to change some items that were created by using the new or enhanced features in Office Word 2007. For example, equations will become images that cannot be changed. You will find a list of document elements that are changed when they are opened in a previous version of Word here.

How do I create a Translation Memory (TM) in Trados?

When we are beginning a new project, we will need to create a new memory. You can also import memories that clients or other translators provide. Even if you already have a TM of your own you should always ask the client to supply the TM at the start of all projects because other people may have made updates to the TM.

1. From TRADOS Freelance, open Translator’s Workbench

2. To create a New (Empty) Memory, Select file, new and then choose the source and target language from the Create Translation Memory dialogue box. Click Create. If your translation is from English to Spanish, you should select English as your Source Language and Spanish as your Target Language.

3. Name your Translation Memory file, navigate to where you want to save your TM and click Save

A Translation Memory consists of five files:

TM is saved as a .tmw file, but in order to run it must have four supporting files. For instance, if you named your Translation Memory “Legal”, your files will be as follows:

  • Legal.iix
  • Legal.mdf
  • Legal.mtf
  • Legal.mwf

For more info on Translation Memory (TM) Tools, we suggest that you read our article Lowering Translation Costs: What a Translation Memory Can Do for You

Learning Spanish Online

The best method for learning Spanish is total immersion in the language. However, you might not have the time or the money to take an extended learning holiday to ramp up your Spanish skills. And while there are some excellent software programs and sets of CDs that you can purchase, the Internet has a fantastic array of free language learning resources. Below are links to and brief descriptions of a selection of Spanish learning tools.


Palabea: The Speaking World and My Happy Planet are both community oriented sites. On each site, users create a profile and then are able to chat and practice with native speakers of their target language. Both are social networking sites, so the value in using them would come from communicating in Spanish with native speakers and others who are learning the language.

Spanish Slang

If you already speak some Spanish, there are two great sites to explore regional slang. Tu Babel is an online dictionary of slang and regionalisms created by the online community. The “angel” button is a nice feature, and will enable you to block entries that aren’t PG-rated. Jergas de Habla Hispana is another great, constantly growing resource for those seeking to understand the varied and colorful slang of the Spanish-speaking world. Both sites are completely in Spanish, and require a fairly good level of comprehension, but can be indispensable if you communicate with Spanish-speakers and want to really understand the words they use.

Tools for Translators

Translators use a multitude of tools to make their work easier and more efficient. However, many are quite costly so it’ll take time to acquire all of the resources necessary to make your work as fast and accurate as possible. Most translators use a combination of computer-based and hard copy resources. Of course, it depends on preference as to whether you primarily use computer or paper resources.Below you’ll find a brief description of certain tools that you should have on your wish list.

Dictionaries and Glossaries

I like the Gran Diccionario Oxford: Español-Ingles, Ingles-Español as a general, comprehensive dictionary.

Of course, a general Spanish-English dictionary can only get you so far when you are doing specialized translations in your field of expertise. In these cases, you will need a dictionary with specific entries for your field. There are many dictionaries which cover technical, engineering, and scientific terms.

A hot topic on the Proz Translators’ Resources forum is glossaries. While the forum covers all language pairs, translators can find links to extensive glossaries for specific language pairs and post a query if they can’t find information about the glossary they need.

But both dictionaries and glossaries fall short when a translator needs to know how to translate a colloquial phrase. Word Reference has an active forum that you can visit if you are working with a phrase whose translation eludes you. The search function will lead you to not only a translation of the word, but links to previous forum discussions about related phrases. If you don’t find the answer you need, a posted question will be answered by an active community of translators and linguaphiles.

If you prefer to store your tools on your computer, many dictionaries have a CD ROM version for you to purchase.

Targeting different Spanish-Speaking Audiences Through Translation

Last month, Transpanish posted an article about using Neutral Spanish to reach the widest possible Spanish-speaking audience. Those who translate documents into neutral or standard Spanish strive to remove any vocabulary or markers that would identify the text with a specific region where Spanish is spoken. Using neutral Spanish is useful when your document will get distributed in more than one country.

But if your goal is to market a product or spread your message in the U.S., you may want to consider a more tightly targeted translation. Rather than trying to reach all Spanish-speakers in the U.S., you should work with your translation agency to define the demographic you want to reach so as to make your message more potent.
Are you selling real estate to educated immigrants in Florida? Promoting a new cell phone plan to young urban Puerto Ricans in New York? Or informing first-generation Mexican immigrants in the Southwest of the importance of prenatal care?

All of these groups speak Spanish with a different vocabulary, different idioms, and slightly different speech patterns. The short, snappy sentences that will sell a cell phone plan to young Puerto Ricans may turn off older immigrants from South America. The tone that gets your business new customers looking to retire will be too stuffy for the younger crowd.

Of course, attention to your audience is always important in any kind of writing. When you’re not only trying to target your intended audience, but also trying to make sure that the target text is faithful to the source, the expertise of your translation agency becomes even more critical. This is especially true if you don’t speak or understand Spanish, as you have to completely trust that the contracted agency has the knowledge necessary to create a translation that targets your specific demographic.

Related Articles
Researching Neutral Spanish Terms and Dialect-Specific Terms
Reaching Your Spanish-Speaking Audience with Global Translations
The Use of Neutral Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic Market

Spanish usage in US

On April 23, 2008 Transpanish posted a blog article about the movement to cultivate the usage of “proper” Spanish on the Internet. Remember that this movement originated in Spain. But what importance does this movement have on Spanish speakers residing in the United States? The usage of proper written and spoken Spanish may still be of import in university Hispanic Studies or translation studies programs in which students are working from documents written by native Spanish speakers. But the reality of spoken and written Spanish and how they’re used in the U.S. is very different from what the Real Academia Española purports.

Take the following points into consideration:

• Mainly monolingual Spanish speakers immigrate to the U.S., but by the third generation, the descendants of those immigrants are primarily English speakers.

• The children and grandchildren of first-generation immigrants generally speak some Spanish, but are educated in English and therefore do not have a background in the conventions of written Spanish.

• Spanish speakers in the U.S. are extremely heterogeneous with regard to their educational level and country of origin.

• Spanish speakers, regardless of their fluency in English, must to some degree navigate an English speaking world.

The result of these combined points is that Spanish spoken in the U.S. is constantly transforming and deeply informed by English, which results in the unique language that we refer to as Spanglish.

Spanglish is the popular term for what linguists refer to as code-switching, which can be either mixing English and Spanish terms within the same sentence (i.e. “Voy a hacer un appointment” instead of “I’m going to make an appointment”) or transforming words from one language by applying the conventions of another (i.e. parquear instead of to park). Spanglish can only be used when both the speaker and listener are equally versed in both Spanish and English, the numbers of which are constantly growing.

Because of this, those who market to Spanish, English, and Spanglish speakers have to be flexible and aware of the truly fluid nature of language use in this country. A good translation agency will be able to help clients navigate the constantly transforming landscape of Spanish as it is spoken in the U.S.

Words with the letter eñe (ñ)

In our last post we discussed the importance of the use of the letter eñe. Below are some words with “ñ”. One tip: If your keyboard doesn´t have the Spanish layout, you may type the eñe by pressing and holding ALT and 164.



























The Contested Eñe: “Pure” and “Impure” Spanish

While written Spanish is rife with diacritical marks (a.k.a. accent marks), there is none as sexy and symbolic as the eñe. Take for example, the commonly used word, año (year). Remove the eñe, and you’re left with ano, which is the Spanish word for anus. In most cases, leaving out the accent won’t result in possible embarrassment, but there is currently a movement which posits that the use of accents online is critical to maintaining the integrity and purity of written Spanish.

The movement was borne out of the initiative of the Real Academia Española, which finds that with the spread of Internet use, online communications should be held to the same standards as written Spanish. La Academia Argentina de Letras and the Instituto Cervantes also back the campaign.

To this end, Internet domains originating in Spain can now be registered with Spanish’s beloved and emblematic ñ. Internet addresses registered in Spain will thus be more descriptive and possibly less misleading. For example, if one wants to register an organization called Campaña Para los Derechos Humanos (Campaign for Human Rights), they can now do so and keep their Internet domain faithful to the organization’s name. Previously, they’d have to omit the ñ from the address, and would be left with the potentially confusing, which means “The Bell of Human Rights.” In examples such as this, one sees how critical the correct use of ñ becomes, as campana means bell and campaña means campaign or movement.

You may wonder: why is using accent marks so critical? Realize that this is mostly an academic movement of language purists. They maintain that the integrity of correctly written Spanish must be kept across all forms of written Spanish, even in the often informal and fast-paced medium of the Internet. Furthermore, the Campaña Pro-Eñe reminds us that accents in Spanish are not extra flourishes that we can choose to use or leave out as we wish, but are in fact necessary components of a correctly spelled word.

If accent marks are so critical in written Spanish, why are they often left out? Some reasons for their omission are:

• Efficiency, as inserting accent marks takes an extra moment and extra key strokes.

• Keyboards not specifically set up for writing in Spanish often make it difficult to quickly insert accents.

• Use of increasingly informal written Spanish, especially in online communications.

• Lack of knowledge about which words include accent marks, even for those educated in Spanish.

• Inability to adapt the Internet as a primarily English-speaking medium to the written conventions of Spanish.

• The different educational levels of Internet users, as many do not have the educational background to feel at ease with accent usage.

The movement to encourage correct accent mark usage on the Internet serves to combat the abovementioned reasons. However, only time will tell if this movement has the support and general interest to win over regular Internet users as well as academics.

New York Hospitals Making Improvements in Spanish Interpretation Services

The availability of Spanish interpretation services in New York City hospitals has improved in the last two years, but more services are needed for speakers of other languages, according to a report released this week by the New York Immigration Coalition and other groups, the Newsday reports.

The report, “Now We’re Talking,” is based on surveys conducted between October 2007 and February of 617 New York City residents who speak Spanish or Korean and no English. Officials stressed that the study is only a snapshot of the issue and is not scientific, according to AP/Newsday. According to Adam Gurvitch, NYIC’s director of health advocacy, the state has made “real strides” in providing Spanish translation services, but a “real disparity” still remains for other languages.

The report found that 79% of respondents said they were able to receive interpretation services in state hospitals. Before state health officials began requiring hospitals to provide interpretation services for non-English-speaking patients in 2006, 29% of respondents in a similar survey reported receiving interpretation services, according to the report. Before the regulation, it was common for non-English-speaking residents to be told to provide their own interpreter, such as a friend or family member. The new survey found that 5% of non-English-speaking residents were told to bring their own interpreter.

The report called for more interpretation services for other patients who do not speak English, especially Arabic, Bengali, Haitian Creole, Korean and Russian speakers. According to advocacy groups, language barriers can make it difficult for patients to explain symptoms, understand diagnoses and navigate the insurance system, potentially leading to medical mistakes, misdiagnosis or death. They added that relying on nonprofessional interpreters to provide medical information violates patient privacy and could be traumatizing for an interpreter who is a child or family member.

Andrew Friedman, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, a civil rights organization that participated in the report, said, “It is simply impossible to provide quality health care unless patients can communicate their symptoms clearly, understand their diagnosis and knowingly consent to medical procedures” (Franklin, AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/19).