Adapting messages: Correct usage of Spanish Language (Part II)

Second and final part of Gonzalo’s presentation…enjoy!

III. Adapt the Message

A.-Remember “who” is your target market.
Be careful of cultural differences and regional sensibilities.

i.e., Salsa music is not Mexican, Chileans and Argentineans do not eat rice and beans, Burritos are not Mexican, and pupusas are not the same as arepas.

B.-Remember your demographics:

i.e., Miami Cubans, Newyoricans, Chicanos, Mexicanos and others. First generation, second generation….

C.-Think different! Hispanics are a different public. Do not try to use literal translations from English.

Quiz: How do you translate Got milk or Got eggs?
A: A direct translation could be interpreted in a different way. You have to adapt as “Tome leche” (Drink milk) or “Compre huevos” (buy eggs).

D.-Same words have different meanings.

Guagua: in South America means baby (from quechua); in the Caribbean it means bus (spanglish from wagon). Corn in South America is known as choclo, while in Mexico and Central America is known as elote.

E.-Watch out for double meaning. Some words may be interpreted as “dirty” by some Hispanics.

i.e., Bolsa (hand bag) in Dominican Republic means testicles; chaqueta in most Latin America means jacket while in Mexico means to masturbate. Pelotas (balls) En pelotas (to be naked) Pelotas (stupid) (Chile) Pelota (group C.R.)

F.-Do not rely on Internet translation pages or software (Altavista… etc.)

Example: “The Media Network is a full-service public relations, advertising, and social marketing agency” was translated in Altavista as:

“La red de los medios es relaciones públicas de un lleno-servicio, publicidad, y la agencia social de la comercialización,”which back in English reads as:

“The net of media is public relations of a full service, publicity and the social agency of the commercialization”

G.-Do not rely on Microsoft Office spell check. Microsoft HQ are not located within the Spanish Royal Academy building.

H.-Use simple language. Avoid “SAT” or “GRE” vocabulary. Yes, we already know you are very smart.

IV.- Where can I get more information?

National Association of Hispanic Journalist Style Book (recommended): Can be bought from:

Spanish Language Royal Academy (the final authority):

El Mundo Newspaper Dictionary:

El Pais Style Manual:


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