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Top Challenges for Spanish-English Translators


english-to-spanish-translationBecause Spanish is a Latin-based language (also referred to as a Romance language) it is markedly different than English, which is a Germanic language. These differences in origin create several challenges when translating into Spanish or vice versa. There are some obvious challenges a translator can encounter that we will discuss in this blog post.

  1. An adjective is generally located after a noun in the Spanish language, which of course is not the case in English and is something that native English speakers often have a hard time remembering.
  2. Spanish speakers can have a hard time forming negatives or interrogatives in English. For example, Spanish allows a double negative as demonstrated in the following sentence: No tiene nada. A native Spanish speaker might translate this word for word into English as: He doesn’t have nothing.Obviously, the correct way to translate no tiene nadawould be: He doesn’t have anything.
  3. The universal word order of Spanish is commonly subject-verb-object, which is very much like English. However, it is more acceptable to change the word order in Spanish so that words that are to be emphasized are consistently placed at the end of the sentence. A translator doing Spanish-English translation should keep this in mind so that the translation can be as smooth and native-like as possible.
  4. In Spanish, there is often no need to use “it”, “he”, or “I” because the verb tenses change along with the subject, making it obvious who you are referring to. However, in English, you can’t get away with removing pronouns.
  5. There is a powerful correlation between the spelling of a word and its sound in Spanish. Therefore, Spanish words are almost always spelled exactly as they sound. In English, this is not always the case, as words are sometimes tricky to sound out or spell. In addition, there are only three double letters in Spanish – ccrr, and ll. In English, there are many more instances of double letters. Professionals involved in English-Spanish translation frequently forget to decrease double letters of English to a single one for the Spanish translation.
  6. The punctuation rules are sometimes reversed for Spanish and English. For example, in Spanish, all punctuation marks are arranged outside of parenthesis or quotation marks and in English they’re inside.

Spanish translation is certainly not an easy job. A native level of fluency is required in both the languages in order to provide high quality English-Spanish and Spanish-English translation.

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