Spanish Characteristics

Spanish Language Characteristics

Before starting any translation project, you should be aware of certain linguistic realities of the Spanish language. This will help you deal with some issues that will arise (e.g., text expansion) and may affect your Spanish translation project.

The following are some basic fundamentals related to the Spanish language:

  • The Spanish language utilizes the Latin alphabet, with a few special letters: vowels with an acute accent (á, ú, é, í, ó), u with an umlaut (ü) and an n with a tilde (ñ).
  • The Spanish language spelling system, due to a substantial number of reforms, is almost perfectly phonemic and, therefore, easier to learn than the majority of languages. The Spanish language is pronounced phonetically; however, beware of the trilled ‘r,’ which is somewhat complex to reproduce. The letters ‘b’ and ‘v’ are almost indistinguishable. The letter ‘h’ is silent.
  • Spanish language punctuation is very close to, but not the same as English. There are a few significant differences. For example, in Spanish, exclamation and interrogative sentences are preceded by inverted question and exclamation marks, for example, ¿Habla usted inglés? (Do you speak English?) or ¡Qué lástima! (What a pity!). Also, in a Spanish dialog, a change in speakers is indicated by a dash (-), while in English, each speaker’s remark is placed in separate paragraphs.
  • Formal and informal translations address several different characteristics. Deference and politeness is expressed by the use of 2nd person ‘tu’ and 3rd person ‘usted’.
  • ‘Ser’ vs. ‘estar’: Two verbs denote the translation concept of to be. ‘Ser’ is used for permanent states; ‘estar’ is used to describe temporary things and to indicate transition.
  • Inflection, declination and grammatical gender are important features of the Spanish language.
  • There are normally 20% more words in the Spanish version of an English to Spanish translation.

In the Spanish language, there are various formatting issues that may have a direct effect on your translation. For example, titles in Spanish require the capitalization of only the first letter of the first word of a title. In English, the first letter of almost every word is normally capitalized. When using numbers in Spanish, periods replace commas and vice-versa. If not addressed properly, this could lead to significant confusion and potentially, financial liability.

Trusted Translations will walk you through all of these differences to ensure that you are comfortable with every aspect of your Spanish translation.

English to Spanish Text Expansion

One of the most notable differences when translating into Spanish as opposed to into English is the concept of text expansion. As a general rule, text translated from English to Spanish will have about 20% more words.

The basic reason for this expansion is related to the linguistic rules of the Spanish language. It often takes more words to say the same thing in Spanish. This text expansion effect can be problematic in various instances. First, the increased amount of text can cause problems in design formatting, as more words need to fit in the same design. At Trusted Translations, our expert desktop publishers are accustomed to handling text expansion and will work with your team to ensure that the integrity of your original design is maintained while preserving your message.

Our Spanish Translations Are Priced Per Source Word

The other factor related to text expansion can be price. As some translation companies charge by target word, text expansion can increase costs by 20%. At Trusted Translations, we price our projects based on the source word count rather than on the target word count. This will allow you to see the final cost of your translation at the beginning of the translation project and will ultimately save you money on your Spanish translation.