Currently, both the Language Service Providers (LSPs) that offer translation into Spanish and the companies that create and sell products have a high awareness about how to approach their Spanish-speaking audience. When a company thinks about localising a product into the Spanish language, the LSPs usually ask them about the scope of the Spanish-speaking audience that it will be directed towards. Will this product be distributed only in Spain? In Latin America? In one specific Spanish-speaking country in South America such as Colombia, Chile or Peru? Or, conversely, is the target all of these at the same time? The needs of each client and communicative situation are different. Although there is a higher preference for the localisation to each variant of Spanish in order give the product a higher natural feel and create a closer relationship with the audience, there are many communicative circumstances in which choosing a variant in common is recommended.
For several decades now, in the Spanish teaching and translation world, there is the term “neutral Spanish” whose goal is to remove any remnant of local flavour and use a vocabulary which could be understood by any Spanish speaker. This is a manner of communication that does not belong to any specific culture but rather is a linguistic vehicle for the products with an international scope. A well-known example is the Spanish used in Disney movies, which until the beginning of the 90s used many accents in the adaptations and, of course among the set of synonyms that existed for a given term, they chose the one understood the most by both sides of the Atlantic. This is why their movies were projected in Spain referring to cars as carros instead of the regional word coches or sandwich was translated into emparedado instead of bocadillo. Starting with The Beauty and the Beast, Disney abandoned this project and started to produce one version for Latin American audiences and another for Spain. The fact is that “neutral Spanish” has always received negative critiques because it is impossible to not have any local flavour in any spoken text. A voice is always going to have a characteristic accent and the listener will not always be happy with the choice of “foreign” lexicon imported to another linguistic community (even if it is the same language). The Spanish have been criticised for this latter aspect, since their version of the Spanish language does not coexist as much with English as much as their Latin American counterparts. In fact, in Spain there is a certain tendency to think of their country as the heart of the diffusion and prescription of the Spanish language, but the reality is that most Spanish speakers are in Latin America. For this reason, regulatory institutions are abandoning the idea of “neutral Spanish” more and more, in other words, this idea of trying to hide accents, regional expressions and other aspects of each Spanish-speaking culture and they are starting to work on what is known as “standard Spanish”.
“Standard Spanish” is defined in contrast to the concept of “neutral Spanish”. While the latter is related to the idea of neutralisation (hiding or on occasion mixing indiscriminately variants and even teaching a “null” Spanish which does not belong to any linguistic community), “standard Spanish” is associated with standardisation. The difference lies in not trying to find an easy fix for each communicative situation which requires an adaptation to each variant of Spanish and which, to do so, needs to come into contact with several professionals. This concept is an ideal for terminological creation which was created in the context of translation services, and for this reason it is starting to enjoy a higher preference for its use, “neutral Spanish” becoming a more popular expression or concept applied to dubbing and the audio-visual world in general.
For decades, industrialisation has brought new inventions and numerous products with it which have, on occasion, come from foreign markets and need to be localised. This importation process is done at a dizzying speed, which is why translators do not always have time to make a precise translation for many concepts, which normally tend to be different in each country. This is why it is common for the foreign term to end up being introduced into the different linguistic communities and be mixed with the local lexicon. To do so, many multinational companies decide from the beginning to coin a single term and export it to all the communities speaking one same language. Thus they create translation memories with terminological glossaries to share with their linguistic professionals around the world so that synonyms do not proliferate, which would hinder the internationalisation process of an idea or product. Standard Spanish is, therefore, a linguistic unification strategy with prospective ends.
This concept is of special interest for any entity that wants to make statements in Spanish on an international level without having to localise their content. This includes, for example, the aforementioned multinational companies and communication media. There is no doubt that this is a cheaper resource in the long run.
However, there are also disadvantages. For example, it is a slow process, since the internationalisation process is fairly quick and most often the audience is already familiar with the foreign term. Likewise, many marketing departments are slow to completely translate their content to Spanish, either because they coexist with the English language or because they understand that the name in English is part of its introduction and diffusion process in the market. Besides this, it is worth highlighting that linguistic monopolies would be created in which a company would unilaterally decide how to translate a term in the entire Spanish-speaking community and that said community would end up rejecting it for seeming strange or because they have already developed a regional variant. This is due to the fact that languages are living organisms.
The idea of linguistic unification is an ideal in the world of translation, especially in the technical sector. Although it would be advantageous to have a single translation for a specific inventive concept, it is undeniable that most necessary translations fall within the category of advertising and marketing, and it has been demonstrated that the audience more positively values that the translations reflect their own dialectal variants in order to more closely connect to them.
Picture reference: https://www.pinterest.es/pin/441634307192366280/