“Culture is widening of the mind and of the spirit.” Jawaharlal Nehru
Translation is the conversion of the meaning of one language to an equivalent second language text steeped in culture.
A good translator should simultaneously be aware of the cultural factors, views, and tradition in order to consciously act as a bridge to make culture universal.
Thus, a translator promotes understanding among different countries and cultures.
Cultural Implications for Spanish Language Translation
As a Spanish (and Portuguese!) to English translator, I confront an interesting chestnut: the diverse Spanish-speaking world (el mundo hispanohablante).
Spain, the mother, and protector of el castellano (Castilian Spanish), reigns supreme but isolated on the Iberian Peninsula alongside Portugal in Europe.
However, in the Americas, el español is diverse geographically and culturally.
The United States as an emerging source of Spanish, Mexico, the Caribbean, Andean South America, and the cone of South America (Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina) make up the largest chunks of Spanish-speaking culture and territory.
From the different uses of coger between Spain (to get) and Argentina and Colombia (to have sex) to paja in Spain and Argentina (straw) vs. most of Latin America (to masturbate), Spanish terms vary depending on the country.
As you can see, the same word has significant – sometimes potentially embarrassing – differences in meaning.
However, for the trained Spanish language translator, especially one who has lived in Spain, Argentina, and Colombia like me, it is much easier to make sense of these nuances.
For that reason alone, a translator never makes word-for-word conversions of text from Spanish into a second language.
In sum, translation is restating the meaning of a text in one language in another tongue.
This transcoding process should be focused not merely on language transfer but also – and most importantly – on precise cultural approximation.
This transposition of both language and culture occurs at the same time while producing a new text reflecting the same meaning of the original text.
Thus, translators must be both bilingual and bicultural if not multicultural, a fact truer in Spanish language translations.
Make sure your Spanish documents translated into English are culturally-appropriate.
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