U.S. SpanishGiven its size and enormous buying power, the U.S. Hispanic market presents an opportunity that can’t be ignored. Success in this market requires understanding the ins and outs of the Spanish language in the U.S.
No company would use culturally specific content from England, Canada, or Australia to target Americans. Why should Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic market be any different, especially given this market’s size and importance in terms of purchasing power?
According to recent studies, 88% of U.S. Hispanics say they appreciate businesses that speak to them in Spanish, and 87% feel businesses that make a sincere effort to invest in their communities deserve their loyalty. In order to be among these businesses and find success in the U.S. Hispanic market, you need translations that can speak to this audience directly.
What does “Hispanic” mean from a historical and language perspective? The term was first popularized in 1980 by the U.S. Census, which used it in an attempt to classify Latin Americans living in the United States. More specifically, the census sought to classify “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America, and other Spanish-speaking countries.”
Because Latin American Spanish is very different from Spanish from Spain, this demographic was already speaking a form of Spanish with its own unique characteristics. Since then, “Hispanic” Spanish has become an umbrella term for a mix of dialects and cultures from over 20 countries in Latin America.
Hispanic or Latino?
You may also have heard Spanish-speaking Americans use “Latino or Latina” to describe themselves. While some use “Hispanic” and “Latino/a” interchangeably, “Hispanic” generally defines people who originate from Spanish-speaking countries, while “Latino” defines people originating from Latin American countries (but not from Spain, and not necessarily Spanish speakers). Even if you concentrate on the U.S. Hispanic market, it’s essential to remain aware of how these terms evolve and change.
Spanish Language in the U.S.
The population of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has grown far beyond first-generation immigrants from across Latin America. Based on a 2020 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, over 13.2 percent of people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home—that’s over 41.8 million people aged five or older. By 2050, it’s predicted that one in three people in the U.S. will speak Spanish. From a cultural standpoint, the Spanish language continues to be an essential form of communication with the U.S., including for non-Hispanics and for those that may have lived in the United States their entire life.
U.S. Hispanic Spanish, like Latin American Spanish, diverges from European (Spain) Spanish in several ways. For example, U.S. Spanish speakers don’t use the second person plural vosotros; they prefer the simple past to the present perfect tense; and the language is strongly influenced by English.
However, U.S. Spanish is also strongly influenced by media sources—not just traditional U.S. media in English, but also by leading Spanish language media companies, such as Univision and Telemundo. U.S. Spanish also shows a high level of mixing and dialect variation, especially in major cities with a lot of contact between different groups of Spanish-speaking immigrants.
All these considerations need to be taken into account when translating for the Hispanic market. Put simply, it would be a grave marketing mistake to try to apply content for the Spanish (that is, Spain) market to Hispanic consumers rather than tailoring your material to their distinctive needs.
Reaching the U.S. Hispanic Market
It’s sometimes necessary to localize your content even further in order to address a particular region of the U.S. Spanish-speaking population.
The movement and concentration of people from Latin American backgrounds across the U.S. has been complex and diverse, rejecting a “one size fits all” approach. For example, Spanish speakers living in Los Angeles have a stronger Mexican influence, while many Spanish speakers in New York City have their roots in Puerto Rico. Similarly, an advertising approach in major cities like Miami, where 90% of Hispanics speak Spanish at home, must be different from that in smaller towns or rural/suburban areas.
Furthermore, for your translation projects, it’s best to work with a team that has its finger on the pulse of U.S. Hispanic-specific trends. For instance, Hispanic consumers are at the forefront of digital growth and a mobile-first market, outpacing other demographics in smartphone ownership and at the forefront of social media usage. They’re also more likely than non-Hispanics to have their buying decisions influenced by family.
The Need for Quality Spanish Translations
Spanish translation is no longer a “nice to have”—it’s a must-have. After all, for the millions of Spanish speakers in the U.S., accurate Spanish translations play a critical role not only in their daily lives, but also in safety, health, legal, public service, and government-related communications. Indeed, in some instances—such as the emergency room—correct translations can mean the difference between life and death.
At Trusted Translations, our expert Spanish language translators are ready to help you understand the trends and linguistic subtleties necessary for success in the U.S. Hispanic market. Contact us to learn more about our Spanish translation services.