When Spanish dialect and variety matters for audiovisual linguists

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Spanish dialect

It is generally agreed that Spanish speakers across the world will almost always understand each other – well at least as much as English speakers across the world can. So why might a dialect or variety of Spanish matter to a transcriber, an audiovisual translator or subtitler?
It matters quite a bit.

The Main Spanish dialects

Although this list by no means exhaustive, the 10 primary Spanish dialects and varieties are reckoned to be:

  • European or Peninsular Spanish
  • Mexican
  • Central American
  • Caribbean
  • Colombian (inland)
  • Colombian, Ecuadorian and Peruvian (Pacific Coast)
  • Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Bolivian, parts of Colombia, Argentina and Chile
  • Chilean and parts of Argentina
  • Paraguayan, some parts of Argentina and Bolivia
  • Rioplantense spoken in Argentina and Uruguay

Spanish Transcription

At a basic level, a transcription service provides a written record of what can be heard on an audio or video file in the same language that was spoken. If you ask us to transcribe a series of Spanish interviews your understandable expectation is that the transcription will be accurate and that the transcriber will have picked up as much of the speech as possible.

To ensure the greatest chance of success, the transcriber will of course be a Spanish native speaker. But in addition, what better than to have a native speaker either originally from the country or region where the interviews took place, or currently residing there.

This doesn’t just relate to Spanish, but any language with multiple variations in pronunciation, idioms and vocabulary. Apparently Stewart Stevenson, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Banff and Buchan once said, “I remember trying to watch the first episode of EastEnders and switching it off because I couldn’t understand what was being said.”

Do head over to our Spanish transcription service page to learn more about how we could help you.

Spanish Audiovisual Translation

A Spanish audiovisual translator will provide either an English translation of Spanish speech in an audio or video file, or, a Spanish translation of English speech.

There are some quite pronounced variations in accent, pronunciation, intonation and vocabulary across Spanish-speaking countries.

The word for “car” in Mexico is “carro” and in Argentina, “auto”.

Chilleans would use the word “chucha” to indicate something is a long distance away and yet in Colombia the same word means a very bad smell.

You can start to see how it would be important for a linguist with in-country knowledge to tackle an audiovisual Spanish translation, especially if working from audio and without any visual context.

Find out more about our Spanish audiovisual translation service

Spanish subtitling service

We have already discussed the vocabulary and accent differences above, but don’t forget speed of delivery too!

There do seem to be differences in the speed of speech across different countries too – there’s plenty of research data here. And this matters to a subtitler because they need to abide by character restrictions, screenshot changes and reading speeds. According to this article, the Cubans win the prize for generally speaking the fastest!

Head over to our Spanish subtitling service page to learn more about how we can help you.

Or contact one of our lovely project managers, no matter what your Spanish dialect requirements.

Do you need translations? Get in touch.

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