Prior to commencing any Spanish translation project, it is extremely important to understand the different variants of Spanish used in the world.
In fact, even the meaning of certain terms in the field of translation and world languages can vary depending on the context.
Here, we outline some of the key characteristics of Castilian Spanish, so you can make an informed decision about your translation needs.
What Is Castilian Spanish?
The term “Castilian Spanish” is commonly used to refer to the Spanish spoken in Spain, also known as “European Spanish” or “Spanish for Spain.” The name refers to the historical province of Castile, in central Spain, where Spanish is said to have originated, and where the language was soon designated as the standard or the king’s Spanish.
In some countries, you may find the term castellano used interchangeably with, or instead of, español as a general name for the Spanish language. At the same time, “Castilian Spanish” most specifically describes the dialect spoken in Central and North Spain (sometimes known as “Peninsular Spanish”).
From still yet another standpoint, some organizations and individuals may use “Castilian Spanish” to refer either to a form of “pure” Spanish or to the Spanish language in general, in a form understood in all Spanish-speaking countries.
If this multitude of terms seems confusing, here’s an overview of the types of Spanish that “Castilian Spanish” is often used to describe:
- The North-Central standard of Spanish, as opposed to the Spanish spoken in other regions, such as in the South (Andalusian).
- The common language of the Spanish state in relation to the other co-official languages found in the various autonomous territories (Catalan, Galician, Basque), according to the Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española, or RAE).
- A type of neutral Spanish often referred to as “pure” Spanish and maintained by the Royal Spanish Academy.
- The Spanish of Spain, as opposed to the Spanish spoken in Central and South America.
As you can see from this list, it’s quite common for speakers to refer to this type of Spanish in very different ways. However, it may be most effective to think of Castilian/European Spanish as “Spanish for Spain,” especially if your goal is to reach out to potential clients within Spain.
Spanish Translation Options
How does this affect your translation projects? At Trusted Translations, we normally recommend that your Spanish translations be done in a neutral Spanish that is widely understood in all Spanish-speaking markets. Then, depending on each client’s needs, we also offer Spanish translations for the Spanish (Spain) market, as well as for Latin America, for the United States, or for any Latin American Spanish local dialect.
In short, we can help you sort through the regional and linguistic subtleties described above to identify the type or types of Spanish perfectly suited to your goals.
Localizing to Castilian Spanish
If your organization’s primary objective is to reach the Spanish-speaking population in Spain, it is critical you consider localizing your content to Castilian Spanish.
Because Castilian Spanish is not the same as Spanish elsewhere, localization is important even for content you already have in Spanish. For example, here are just a few of the key features that appear in Castilian Spanish, but not in all other types of Spanish:
- Castilian Spanish has two options for the second person plural pronoun, vosotros and ustedes.
- Castilian Spanish prefers to use the present perfect tense (pretérito perfecto) to refer to a recent event, whereas Latin American speakers lean toward the simple past tense.
- Castilian Spanish speakers tend to pronounce the letters z and c (before an e or i) closer to a soft “th” than in other Spanish variations. This creates the distinctive sound sometimes stereotyped as a “lisp,” though this term is considered an inappropriate way to characterize what is a unique linguistic variation.
- Spanish in other countries has markedly different vocabulary from Spanish in Spain. Without the right localization, it’s all too easy to create unintentional misunderstandings or—even worse—give serious offense.
It’s also important to note that some Spaniards consider Spanish spoken and written outside of Spain to be a less “pure” or less standard version of Spanish. Working with expert translators eliminates the risk of bad press or producing what may be seen as a substandard translation.
Trusted Translations uses native Spanish speakers from Spain to edit your Spanish content so that it perfectly addresses the trends and nuances of local markets in Spain right now. With our help, a small investment in translation to Castilian Spanish can make all the difference in helping your organization succeed in the European Spanish market.