Home | Blog | Contact
English to Spanish Translation

The Spanish Language Spoken in the United States

Lon Schultz
Strictly Spanish LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio

A frequent question that we hear from potential clients requesting information about our Spanish translation services is:

“I need this material translated for Hispanics that live in the United States. What type of Spanish do you translate into?”

We are asked this question almost every day from organizations located in virtually every state of the country. It is a very valid question and this article will provide some understanding and answers. Let’s start off with some background.

Background of the Spanish Language in the United States

First of all, the Spanish language has been around in this country for as long if not longer than English. It began in the early 1500s with the Spanish exploration of the "New World". The Spanish initially established colonies in Florida and explored the coasts of Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and New England. The Spanish then decided to explore the vast West and Southwest territories of present-day United States. This began as early as 1540. Today, you can see the impact of this exploration in the large Spanish-speaking populations in Texas, Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. At the present time, the Spanish language in the United States is being impacted by the immigration of Hispanics from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Central & South American countries. Every state in the United States is now being affected by their growing Spanish-speaking populations.

So, what does this mean as far as the Spanish that is now being used in the United States?

First, let’s look at the English that is being spoken in the United States. This will help answer the question just asked. Linguists have shown repeatedly that American English is a diverse language. The English you hear spoken in Louisiana sounds different than the English that is spoken in Maine, North Dakota or the English spoken in New Jersey. You will see variations in English throughout the country. It is the nature of the United States being a “melting pot” of immigrants. Well, it’s the same with the Spanish language that is now being used in the United States. The Spanish used in this country is a diverse language just as the English language is. This a result of the early exploration and colonization by the Spanish, and by the more recent immigration of Hispanics to our country from all over the world.

What type of Spanish is used in translations for the Hispanic population in the U.S?

Let's look again at the English language used in the United States. When a textbook is written for English-speaking high school students, it is written so it can be read by students living in any state. Students in Louisiana can read it, students in Maine can read it, etc., etc. When a website is developed to market telephone services to English-speaking customers in the United States, it is written with the same considerations in mind. When Tom Clancy writes a book in English, he writes it so anyone in this country that reads English can enjoy it. The same holds true for the Spanish language that is being used in this country. Even though it is diverse as the English language, text materials under most situations should be written in, or translated into a neutral Spanish. The neutral Spanish that we use at Strictly Spanish can be understood by a Spanish-speaking person living anywhere in the United States from any type of Hispanic background. It is free of localisms and slang.

Other translation considerations – translator qualifications

Keep in mind, just as all languages evolve and create new words, so does the Spanish language in the United States. There are considerable qualifications to be an effective English-to-Spanish translator which is another article in itself. In addition to these, to translate effectively into a neutral Spanish intended for Hispanics that live in the U.S., a translator must not only be a native Spanish-speaker, but also must have lived in the United States and understand its diverse Hispanic population and culture that is growing and evolving. Strictly Spanish made a business decision to focus exclusively on translating materials intended for the Hispanic population in the United States. Our key translators and editors are constantly talking with Spanish-speaking Hispanics from all over the United States to stay on the cutting edge with the Spanish language in this country.

Back to article index

Copyright © 2009 Strictly Spanish LLC

Contact us for a free consultation or quote

The neutral Spanish that we use at Strictly Spanish can be understood by a Spanish-speaking person living anywhere in the United States from any type of Hispanic background.