The Translation of the Word “Hangouts” as “Quedadas” in Google+

As we all know, Google did not want to stay behind in the sphere of social networks and has created Google+, with a format similar to Facebook, but with some very interesting features that Facebook lacks.

In fact, it’s easy to find several blogs that talk about this new network offered by Google. For instance, this blog (in Spanish) compares the Facebook application “video chat” to the “hangouts” (or “quedadas”) in Google+: Facebook Videochat vs Google Hangouts: A Fondo.

I would like to discuss one of the options that Google+ offers that is unique in its kind, since no other social network offers it: the “hangouts” or “quedadas” as it seems they will translate it in their Spanish version.
This option will enable you to “videochat” with people in your “circles” (the categories that Google+ uses to define your friends, based on how important the friendships are) with up to 10 people. During the video chat, the screen image changes based on who is speaking at the time.

Beyond discussing the pros and cons of this feature, I want to focus on the translation chosen by Google for “hangouts,” the word “quedadas.”

How to translate “hangouts”

Supposedly this is a word from Spain, but I am Spanish and if I saw an option like that in an application I wouldn’t know its meaning. In Spain we say “quedar con alguien” to mean “agree with someone to meet at a given place and time,” but we don’t use the word “quedada,” at least not in my case. Besides, the point isn’t to “set up a casual meeting with your friends” or “quedar con tus amigos,” that is, to set up a specific time to connect, but rather, the point is that if there are several friends who are using the network at the same time, that they may be able to talk as they would if they were at a bar.

Of course, if they wanted to reach other Spanish-speaking countries, I doubt this would be feasible. For instance, in Argentina the word “quedada” would not make sense since it is used as an adjective to define a person who has not advanced or progressed (otherwise a slow person).

Given the characteristics of this feature, I think that a more “open” translation that would really capture its purpose would be more appropriate, something as simple as “chat en video,” “lugar de encuentro en video” or something along those lines. I guess they were trying to use a more informal term that users would feel closer to instead of a cold “video chat,” but it’s very important to choose a term that is friendly, yet understandable by any Spanish speaker.

The giant Google, I assume, must have a good team of translators and linguists, who perhaps chose that word for a reason, but for now, I can’t think of it.


Some of the reactions on Twitter and Facebook to this article’s Spanish version were the following:

In Trusted Translations‘ Twitter account nj_linguist @_Translation_  wrote that the word “Quedada” (often abbreviated as KDD) is a well established Spanish term for an in-person meetup of members of an online forum.”

On Trusted Translations‘ Facebook page, Cristina DeWitt Bukater wrote about the translation and meaning of “Quedadas” in Spain: “I do use “quedadas” it is a wonderful choice. Well, in Spain we use it very frequently among friends for informal meetings or hangouts. I think in this context is very good but I presume the translator is Spanish, so maybe the non-Castilian Spanish speakers think this is an awful choice. For a Spanish person “quedadas” means what it just says in English…”

However, we also received comments from people in other Spanish-speaking countries, for instance, Adriana Martínez said: “I don’t understand the use of quedadas in this context. In Mexico it refers to some women who are old and were not able to get married, so if I see something in a chat with this word, I wouldn’t understand its use, or worse, I wouldn’t use it since it does not apply to me. I think google + made a very bad choice.”

Monica Piazza form Argentina said: “It’s an awful translation, plain and simple… In Argentina it’s not a term frequently used, but when we use it, we use it to refer to someone slow or shy, people who take a lot of time to take action or to make decisions. Still, not an accurate translation.”

In addition, Juan Arellano adds that “for a person not used to the “castilian spanish”, “quedada” sounds weird. Here in Perú, like in Argentina, applied to someone it means that he/she is slow or shy. We use “reunión” (meeting) that in some forms is not specific to indicate what really “quedada” is.”

(Versión en español: La traducción de Hangouts por Quedadas en Google+)