With connectivity between all parts of the world growing at an incredible rate, the language barrier between people increases as well. While the people of certain areas may speak the same language, it is the dialects and regional twists that create issues, especially with languages that are speaking by a great number of people throughout a large area. The perfect example of this is Spanish, which can be broken down into two main dialects.
Spanish is the second most natively spoken language in the world, following Mandarin Chinese. While obviously spoken in Spain, it is also the native language of most Central and South American countries. Spanish is a Romance Language, derived from Latin and closely related to the other languages of Spain’s Western European neighbors, like Italian and French.
European Spanish as we know it today found its roots in the 1200’s. While the language had existed for a long time before that, it was in this period that King Alfonzo X chose his dialect as the language of Spain. His dialect, the Castilian dialect of Toledo, became the written and spoken European Spanish as it is known worldwide today. Later on, explorers traveling to the “New World,” the Americas, introduced Spanish to the native people they encountered.
The explorers in the Americas had no way of communicating with the native people. As time went the natives began to understand Spanish, with the explorers using captives as interpreters for those who did not understand. Following closely behind the Spanish explorers was the Catholic Church. Missionaries to Central and South America created schools for children and teens, teaching in only Spanish. This caused the language to penetrate into the cultures. As Spanish gained more and more of a foothold on the Americas, native languages began to fade away. As Spanish became the dominant language, the native tongues had a minor influence, helping to create the variants found all over South America, leading to the different variations of Latin American Spanish found in various countries.
While those who speak Latin American Spanish can understand those speaking European Spanish and vice versa, there is a major grammatical difference between the two. The most glaring difference is that the plural second person, “vosotros,” does not exist in Latin American Spanish. There is no usage of the pronoun form, which translate to “you all,” or the verb forms. Instead, “ustedes” is used. “Ustedes” is the polite form of “you.” Those who are fluent in the language can understand either variant. This understanding has been aided even further through the media as well as the education system. While the variants are understood by many, if not all, Spanish speakers, it is easy to tell the difference, as well as the origination of the variant.
The differences between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish pose a challenge when we must select our target audiences. For a specific narrow market, the most successful translations cater to the audience, using the variant of the locale. For attempting to communicate with a large number of Spanish speaking people, this leaves a decision to make as to which variant to use with the trade offs involved.