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The Linguistic Challenge in U.S. Elections

In the United States, election campaigns are driven both by substance and form, especially in relation to the languages used in the dissemination of political ads. With a Hispanic community whose importance is on the rise, the communicational wager is no longer just political but also linguistic: Today Latinos make up more than 20 million voters, that is, a sixth of the electorate.

This population is even more significant in several “swing states” (those key states whose voting majority is still undecided between democrats and republicans). The Pew Hispanic Center notes that there are a number of states with more than 10% of Latino voters, such as Florida (16%), Nevada (15%) and Colorado (14%).

The presidential candidates have fully grasped the scope of these demographics, hence they are communicating in Spanish more and more, and are trying to gain leverage through the support of people who are capable of conveying their messages in the language of Cervantes. So central has this battle for the Latino vote become that mainstream media are constantly tallying the points that each candidate manages to secure.

For instance the incumbent candidate, President Barack Obama, has gained the very media-influential support of Eva Longoria, the “desperate housewife” of Mexican heritage, and of the Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin (who, interestingly enough, had supported George W. Bush in 2000). Meanwhile, in early October Mitt Romney launched his new Spanish-language campaign clip. The ad ends with the Republican candidate making the familiar closing statement (“I’m Mitt Romney and I approve this message”) in Spanish:

Far from being a simple symbolic gesture, and beyond the specific policy proposals aimed at the Spanish-speaking audience, this confrontation presents a very real challenge to the campaign staff of both candidates: to produce more effective Spanish translations of the communication material. Videos with subtitles or dubbed audio, radio spots, posters, brochures, websites: the translation work generated by the campaign is truly colossal and requires a very precise level of work so as to disseminate the message as widely as possible, while keeping a level of language that the public will perceive as authentic.

At Trusted Translations we are used to this type of work. And you don’t need to be a part of a political party’s campaign team to request a customized quote through our website.

To read the original Spanish post go to:
El desafío lingüístico de las elecciones en los EE. UU.