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Spanish Translations: The Difference Between Latin American Spanish vs. European Spanish

Posted by Chloe G. on August 17, 2022.

There is a great demand for Spanish translations as this language is widely spoken in the world. 

Nearly 560 million people worldwide speak Spanish, of which over 470 million are native speakers. Spanish has the second-largest native speaker population in the world, after Mandarin.

However, Spanish is not the same worldwide. The accent, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary vary from one country to another. It is vital to grasp these differences and “speak the same language” as your target customers to keep them engaged with your content.

Here are some countries that speak Latin-American Spanish: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, etc. There are various countries that speak European Spanish such as Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Italy, Sweden, France, etc.

In this article, we will see how this language in European, specifically in Spain, known as Castilian Spanish is different from Latin American Spanish.

Spanish Translations: Pronunciation

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The biggest distinction between Spanish spoken in Spain or the EU and Spanish spoken in Latin America is the pronunciation of the Z and C (before I or E). These two letters are pronounced as the English sound of S in Latin America and as a TH sound in Spain. For this reason, a native of Barcelona may say the name of their hometown as Barthelona.

Here is an example: la taza es azul

In Spain, it would sound like: la ta[th]a es a[th]ul

While in Latin America, you might hear: la ta[s]a es a[s]ul

Besides pronunciation differences, some Latin American countries will often drop the S when it’s at the end of words entirely.


Spanish Translations: Vocabulary

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While there are vocabulary variances across Spanish-speaking countries across the world, there are distinct differences between the Spanish vocabulary of Latin America area and Spain or the EU. Different words are used to describe the same objects.

Here are some examples:

  • a pen is called bolígrafo or boli in Spain but a pluma or lapicera in Latin America
  • a peach is melocotón in Spain but durazno in Latin America
  • a car is coche in Spain but carro or auto in Latin America
  • a cell phone in Spain is móvil but celular in Latin America
  • the verb to drive is conducir in Spain but manejar in Latin America


Spanish Translations: Ustedes vs Vosotros

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Spain is the only Spanish-speaking country where the pronoun vosotros and ustedes is used. The pronoun vosotros (plural you) is used in spoken Spanish in Spain only. Spaniards utilize vosotros to informally address a group of people. In all other Spanish-speaking countries, vosotros is taught in schools, but is never used in normal conversation. 

In Latin America, you hear ustedes; and there is no distinction between formal and informal in the plural you.

Here are all the various you forms using trabajar (to work) as an example:

  • tú trabajas (you work): singular, informal
  • usted trabaja (you work): singular, formal
  • vosotros trabajáis (you work): plural, informal in Spain only
  • ustedes trabajan (you work): plural, formal in Spain; formal and informal in Latin


Spanish Translations: Past Tense

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There is a difference in the way Spaniards and Latin Americans talk about the past. In Spain and the EU, the present perfect tense is frequently used to describe an action that has already been completed: Hoy he ido al trabajo (I have gone to work today). In Latin America, the simple past is more often used: Hoy fui al trabajo (I went to work today).

To get more information about Latin American Spanish, don’t hesitate to see here.  


Effective solutions for your Spanish translation projects

As you can see from our above content, Latin American Spanish and European Spanish have various differences. Neutral Spanish is an acceptable practice that most Spanish speakers will easily understand. However, if you want to reach your clients effectively, you need to localize your target audience as relevant as possible. 

Do not rely on free Spanish to English translation, free English to Spanish translation, etc. from machine translation tools (Google Translate, Microsoft Translator…). You can get huge mistakes and risk your brand with machine translations. 

To perform related content such as marketing campaigns, files, documents, videos, books, games, etc for your target Spanish market, let’s do research and learn much about the culture and the dialect of the region. Your message will reach a larger audience and your brand will attract more potential local clients.  Depending on what you are performing, you may need to use a more localized Spanish dialect for a huge impact. For example, to engage more Spanish clients in Spain, you need to use a European Spanish translation for your campaign. To reach maximum local clients in Mexico, you will need a Latin American Spanish translation. 

It is vital for your business to properly identify your target Spanish-speaking market. After you have chosen your specific target Spanish-speaking clients, pick a professional translation company/native translator that has intimate knowledge of the culture of your target Spanish-speaking market. Because they fully understand the expectations, behavior, and habits of your target audience.

You also need to set a clear goal or guideline at the beginning of your Spanish translation project and inform your translators/ translation providers aware of it. The guideline is important to get the high-quality and relevant Spanish translation that you are looking for.

Using the most appropriate variant of Spanish effectively contributes to gaining your targets’ attention and trust, patronage, and prestige for your brand.

To see more details about challenges and solutions for Spanish translations, you can read this post.


Spanish Translation Costs

The cost for Latin American Spanish and European Spanish translations depends on the quantity of text/page, the difficulty/technical content of the source document, the service pricing plan, the urgency level of the translation project, etc.  

As the total translation cost is provided in advance, you should carefully check the translation procedure that is offered with the cost. In the end, the quality always beats the cost. Thus, be careful with all the values that you will be given besides the cost. You should request a Spanish translation test to make sure your Spanish translation is of high quality.

Here at GTE Localize, we offer Spanish translation service from $0.07/word. Besides, we are ready to give you a 300-word translation test and Spanish translator CVs for any Spanish translation project. Our team of translators can translate 8.000 – 10.000 words per business day. For example, if you require a Spanish translation to English with a volume of 20.000 words, you can expect to get your translation in 2 or 3 business days. For more details, let’s get in touch with our team now.


Ready to get professional Spanish translation services with GTE Localize?

The Spanish translations will have a more significant effect and better resonate with audiences if translators completely understand the language nuances of the target market. An improper localization for the region of Spanish will result in a disconnect, and it could even generate an unnecessary distraction away from the translated content.

Performing Spanish translations and localizing your Spanish content will no longer be difficult if you partner with GTE Localize. Here are what our clients get from us:

  • As one of the best translation and localization companies on GoodFirms, we offer native Spanish linguists with at least 5 years of experience in the translation industry + a particular field;
  • We are an ISO:9001 certified company that will provide clients with a lifetime warranty for our Spanish translation & localization services;
  • Our Spanish translation cost starts at $0.07 per word, with the latest technologies in the translation industry (CAT Tools, Localization Management Platforms, QA Tools, Self-built ERP, etc.) used to cut down the translation cost while maintaining consistency.

Book a consultancy with us right now to receive the best quote and a free test! 

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