In the world of Spanish translation, the application of neutral Spanish is a request often made by translation buyers to linguists and translators alike. But what exactly is neutral Spanish, and is it possible to achieve it with the language being spoken in over twenty different countries around the world? Read on to find out.
Spanish is a language that is understood and spoken by millions around the world. Whether you are a translation professional or a translation buyer, we hope to provide you with a better understanding of translation into neutral Spanish. It is important to realise that while some clients may request a neutral Spanish translation, this is almost impossible to achieve considering the diversity of the Spanish locales. Essentially, our goal is to debunk the myths surrounding neutral Spanish and help you progress in your Spanish translation endeavours.
Together with Mandarin, English and Hindi, Spanish ranks among the world's four most widely spoken languages. Over 440 million people in more than twenty different countries speak Spanish. That said, it is not difficult to understand why Spanish from Spain has evolved with its own unique distinctions in the different countries it is spoken. This evolution was necessary in order to adapt to the unique needs and settings of the different and diverse societies and communities in which Spanish is spoken.
In essence, neutral Spanish is a language that claims to belong to everyone, but in fact belongs to no one.
Moreover, there are twenty-two academies of the Spanish language in the world. These represent the language's different varieties and idiosyncrasies. Since a thousand years or more ago, Spanish from Spain has certainly come a long way.
Neutral Spanish that uses Spanish words which are acceptable throughout the Spanish-speaking world is the preferred medium in Spanish translation. This technique is effective in significantly reducing localisation costs, as the need to produce a unique translation for each Spanish-speaking country is eliminated.
The problem is that there is actually no such thing as neutral Spanish. Those working in the line of Spanish translation end up writing or translating in their own locale (e.g. American Spanish, Mexican, Argentinean, etc.); therefore, rendering the utilisation of neutral Spanish as futile.
Granted, it is possible to use a somewhat neutral form of Spanish in cases where the text is highly cultural or academic, such as the fields of engineering or medicine. However, in cases where the writing style is more casual (e.g. marketing and advertising), this poses a greater challenge to translators as there are hundreds of frequently used words that do not have a translation that is common to all variants of Spanish. In cases where a universal term does exist, it is likely that the meaning or essence of the word will be ‘lost in translation’, so to speak.
In essence, neutral Spanish is a language that claims to belong to everyone, but in fact belongs to no one. It was created by linguists or translators in an effort to utilise terms that can be universally understood by a Spanish-speaking audience. This is put into action by inventing new words and avoiding local terminology.
Whether your locale is Spanish from Spain, American Spanish or any other variant of the language, what is your take on neutral Spanish? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on the subject.
Spanish is based on Latin but, since the Roman times, many other cultures have left their mark on the language. The Arabic-speaking Muslims, that once ruled over the Iberian Peninsula, gave more than 1,000 words to the Spanish vocabulary. A great deal of terms was also adapted from native American languages, not to mention the modern loanwords from English.
The Spanish language, as we know it today, is derived from a non-standard form of Latin — known as Vulgar Latin — that was once spoken in the north-central area of the Iberian Peninsula. Such is the influence of Vulgar Latin on the Spanish language that it accounts for about seventy-five percent of the Spanish lexicon. Since the Roman times, the language has developed for over thousand years, expanding first south to the Mediterranean Sea, and soon after to the Spanish colonial empire. During this development process the civilizations that ruled over the Iberian Peninsula (Visigoths and Arabic-speaking Muslims), the contact with a wide variety of native American and Philippine languages, and the recent borrowings from modern languages have shaped the Spanish language.
After the “reconquista”, the first Spanish settlers began to arrive in America, where they entered into contact with native American languages. As a result, new words were integrated into the Spanish vocabulary.
The Visigoths lived in Spain for three centuries. However, Visigothic — an East Germanic language — had a limited influence on the Spanish language. Only a few military words were adopted (e.g. guardián “guardian”, from Visigothic wardjan). The Arabic-speaking Muslims, on the other hand, had a greater influence. According to the etymological dictionary ‘Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico’ (Joan Coromines), over 1,000 words of the Spanish language have an Arabic origin, covering several fields such as law, chemistry, mathematics, architecture and astronomy.
After the reconquista, the first Spanish settlers began to arrive in America, where they entered into contact with native American languages. As a result, new words were integrated into the Spanish vocabulary, such as guacamole, awakamolli, which comes from awakatl “avocado” + molli “sauce”, from Nahuatl; cóndor “condor”, kuntur, from Quechua; or canoa “canoe”, canaoua, from Carib. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Philippines they caused a great linguistic impact and, although most of the loanwords were from Spanish into the Philippine languages, a few Philippine words made it into the Spanish dictionary — pantalán “wooden pier”, from pantalán, and tuba “palm wine”, from tuba, are some of them.
During the modern times, Spanish has borrowed words and expressions from different European languages such as French, Hungarian, German and, of course, English.
Finally, during the modern times, Spanish has borrowed words and expressions from different European languages such as French (chófer “chauffeur”, from chauffeur), Hungarian (coche “car”, from kocsi), German (brindis “toast, as a call to a gathering of people to raise their glasses and drink together”, from bring dir's) and, of course, English (tráiler “trailer”, digitalizar “digitalize”, etc.)
Subscribe to our blog!
English to Finnish
English to Spanish
Marketing for Freelancers
Search Engine Optimisation
Security Software Localisation
Tips for Translators
Website Localisation In English (19)