Localizing with Spanglish: Three Things To Know

October 7, 2015 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

spanglishFirst of all, what is Spanglish exactly? It simply refers to the intermingling that goes on between English and Spanish in areas where both languages are spoken. It’s not a language in its own right, and depending on the area it’s used in, can be more Spanish-based or English-based. Now that we have that more or less cleared up, you can probably see how the use of Spanglish could influence how you choose to localize your product or service for a Spanish-speaking country.

However, before you start coming up with a plan to include more Spanglish in your next marketing campaign, take a moment to read the following tips:

1. Keep the region in mind

There are 26 different Spanish dialects out there, so make sure you do your research to find out which one is spoken in your target region. Spain will not be very receptive of terms that are clearly English words with a Spanish twist, especially if there is already a word in Spanish that can be used instead. The RAE (Real Academia Española) is like the Oxford Dictionary of Spanish, and it has a history of being particularly not happy with any Spanglish words with English origins.

In Latin America, however, you can go to town and play around with different ways of saying things. Again, however, keep in mind what each dialect is like and take a look at individual style guides for each dialect you will be translating into to get an idea of how to work in some Spanglish.

2. Think about the type of content you are creating

The kind of product or service you’re trying to market should influence how you choose to use Spanglish in your campaign, or if you should use it at all. Think about your target client and whether they would use Spanglish, and when. If you have a more formal target client, then you might want to forgo the sprinklings of Spanglish altogether. A target client who would embrace American culture would be the perfect client to try out some Spanglish on.

3. Be careful not to “over-Anglicize”

Just because Spanglish words are basically just English words with a Spanish twist doesn’t mean you can take any English word and turn it into Spanglish. For instance, you can’t use “salvar” instead of “guardar” because “salvar” means to save, but in a religious context, while “guardar” means to save a document or file. False cognates are also a fun way to get into trouble linguistically, but if you have a good team of translators working with you who are aware or even experienced in the cultural implications of using Spanglish, you should be in the clear,

Hopefully you can start to integrate a bit of Spanglish into some of your marketing campaigns aimed at Latin America. It’s a great way to make clients feel like you know them and what their culture, which always increases the likelihood that they will choose your product or service over someone else’s. Just be sure to be culturally sensitive and aware of regional differences. Alpha Omega Translation offers great translation services that could help you to integrate Spanglish into your next campaign.

 For an overview of our translation expertise, visit our website translation and localization page.

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Category: Foreign Language

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