Spanish: Puerto Rican
There are 11 main dialects of Spanish: Neutral Spanish, Neutral Mexican Spanish, Cuban Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, Argentine Spanish, Castilian Spanish (Spain), Monterey-Brownsville Spanish, Chilean Spanish, Colombian Spanish, Venezuelan Spanish, Peruvian Spanish. The fact that there are so many dialects has the following impact upon localization:
- Words that are inoffensive in one dialect may offend in another, and
- Use of dialect may increase sales in a particular market.
NEUTRAL OR "GENERIC" SPANISH
There is (almost) a "neutral" Spanish. "Neutral" means that:
- The words are understood by all dialects
- The words do not offend other dialects
UNDERSTOOD BY ALL
It is possible to become quite "neutral" during translation. A few great translators have worked in or with so many countries that they acquire an understanding of vocabulary differences. Or, most reliably, a translation can be created by a specialist in "neutral" and then undergo Dialect Review to identify expressions or word usage which do not apply to other dialects. Removal of dialect expressions produces that which is commonly know as a "neutral translation." If the material being translated is for general information, rather than advertising, and will cross several dialect frontiers, then "Neutral Spanish" is probably exactly what is needed.
But there are limitations to "neutral-ness". In South America, most of Mexico and other countries, a "checking account" is called "cuenta corriente". However, in many parts of the U.S., some parts of Mexico, and one or two other areas, "checking account" is "cuenta de cheques". The "cheques-users" often do not even recognize the meaning of the expression "cuenta corriente". Thus, although "cuenta corriente" is beyond any doubt the correct financial term, use of this expression alienates a segment of the population through confusion. Confusion - or vocabulary intimidation - will often affect sales.
WESTERN HEMISPHERE V. SPAIN
When the term "neutral" is used, this refers to Spanish for North, Central and South America. Spain, on the other hand, has a very distinct writing style, enormously different vocabulary, and a patriotism that is so strong as to affect sales if not approached with text in the proper dialect. The Western Hemisphere, on the other hand, is a bit more accepting and relaxed about dialect differences, as long as there are only very few expressions outside their own dialect. The more expressions outside the readers dialect, the more the text appears to have been written for someone else.
Mexico and Central America and certain regions of the U.S.A. share a use of terminology, certain verb conjugations, and a general "feel" in their writing. Columbia, Peru, Chile and other South American countries also share their "feel" and vocabulary, at least for business language. Argentina, on the other hand, has its own very strong preferences which differentiate their country from the rest of South America, lean more toward Europe and in some cases are entirely unrelated to all other dialects.
ADAPTATION FOR LOWER READING LEVEL
There is another element worth considering with the Spanish language, and that is "Adaptation for Lower Reading Level". Spanish speakers who were raised in the United States (and therefore educated in English), or who come from Spanish speaking countries but do not have higher education, have difficulty understanding or identifying with educated Spanish. If a document is ORIGINALLY TRANSLATED into low-level Spanish, then educated Spanish speakers are offended. Therefore, to achieve the dual role of "classy" Spanish, that is equally easy to understand, text is first translated using a high quality translation team, lead by a Certified Public Translator. Then, that translation is reviewed by a professional Adaptor who is responsible for adapting Spanish materials to a lower reading level for many cities and school districts. In this manner, a beautifully - but simply - written document is the result. "Adapted text" is attractive to educated Spanish speakers, but is less confusing to lower educational level.