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Automotive Translations – Latin American Spanish equals LAS?

The problem of finding the perfect Latin American Spanish variant is not easy to solve. We may write an entire encyclopedia about the different uses of automotive vocabulary in each Latin American country.

The wide range of linguistic flavors in Latin American Spanish may be a difficult thing for a linguist who is trying to translate literature or materials meant for specific region. In Business and IT engineering the situation may be a little bit different, in this case it is recommended to introduce a more neutral, so-called “international” style to keep the costs as low as possible.

The problem is that each Latin American country is a potential market, where users would like to see their daily vocabulary present in books and manuals. They want those publications to keep a local style and reflect their own cultural values which are also related to the way these communities use the language, in this case their Latin American Spanish variant. In the past, not a very long time ago, most localization work for Latin America was mainly based in Mexico.

Translation of bus in Latin America

Lexical variations of the translation of the word “bus” in Latin America

If for example we are talking about a car manufacturing company that usually has its subsidiaries present in different Latin American countries, it would be a good idea to develop for each of these countries different glossaries that would focus on the specific terminology used by mechanics, technicians and drivers. Then, this valuable information can be organized and grouped using Translation Memories. In this way, the production of documentation would be friendlier to the user and many of the users would be able to understand their car manuals or instructions without the need for a dictionary, because the terms used are common and easily understood in their region.

In order to solve this issue it would be recommendable for the automotive industry to target a specific audience and create specific material for each Latin American country. Another optionthat we do not recommend for automotive would be to create a general glossary usually called Spanish LAS to englobe the most common terminology.

At Jensen Localization we take into account these things very seriously, and we will always let you know which translation you should use for each Spanish variety, and we will provide you with the right translator to obtain the best results and the tools to store these results. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.


Dutch and Flemish: Two different languages or just more of the same?

Several times per year we have clients asking if we can explain the difference between Dutch and Flemish. It seems that often clients are in doubt whether it is needed to have the text localized for both markets or not. Unfortunately the answer is not very clear-cut. Our Assistant General Manager at our Dutch branch, Hendrika Huisman, will help us to understand these differences.

When you read forums on the Internet about this topic you will see that not even native speakers and experts can agree on whether they are the same languages or not and whether it is possible for a company to use just one translation for both countries. Below, I will try to explain what I believe are the differences between Dutch and Flemish, and my opinion on how localization for these markets should be handled.


Let me begin by stating that Flemish is not a separate language in itself. In fact, officially the written Dutch in Belgium is the Standard Dutch that school children in the Netherlands are also taught in school. But, given the fact that there are differences, I believe Flemish should be considered as a variation of Standard Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands, just like in Surinam another variation of Dutch is spoken. Flemish is the Dutch spoken by people in a large part of Belgium (i.e. Flanders), and even within this small country you will find variations and different dialects of Flemish.

The differences between Dutch and Flemish can be categorized in three aspects: pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. In general, the Flemish pronunciation of Flemish is said to be ‘softer’ than the pronunciation of Dutch, and this becomes most apparent in the pronunciation of the letter ‘g’. However, from a localization point of view, pronunciation is not very interesting as just pronunciation is never a reason to have a text localized in a different locale.

Dutch windmill

From a localization point of view, aspects such as vocabulary and grammar are much more interesting. Although Dutch and Flemish share many words that are used within the same context there are also many differences. In some cases, the difference may be such that a Dutch speaker will still be able to understand what is meant by the Flemish speaker and vice versa, but in other cases the difference may actually cause misunderstandings, or at least the use of certain terms may come across as odd.

Examples of this are the use of the term for ‘to contact’ which is ‘contacteren’ in Flemish and ‘contact opnemen’ in Dutch. Another example is the term for ‘brother-in-law’, which is ‘schoonbroer’ in Flemish but ‘zwager’ in Dutch.

In terms of grammar, as they are officially the same languages, there should, theoretically, not be any difference. However, in real life we find that often the order of verbs and the place of a preposition in a sentence is not the same in Flemish as in Dutch. For example, for the sentence ‘The man who will be convicted’, we would have these versions:

Flemish: ‘de man die zal veroordeeld worden’

Dutch: ‘de man die veroordeeld zal worden’

For further information, click here.

These differences, along with the choice of vocabulary, often make it easy for a reader to identify whether a text has been written by a native Dutch person or by a Flemish person.

So, is it really necessary for a client to have texts localized in both Dutch and Flemish? The answer is not very straight-forward. In my opinion, for technical texts that are clear and do not allow for much variation anyway, a client could get away with just having one version for both markets. However, when it comes to texts that allow for a wider use of vocabulary and that allow for variation (i.e. marketing texts), it would be preferred to have two versions of the text. After all, readers will be able to determine within a few sentences whether a text has been written by a Dutch or Flemish person and if clients actually want to appeal to a certain market, it would make sense for them to make an effort and to use a native speaker for that.

We hope this article helped you to understand the basic differences between these languages. Do not hesitate to contact us for advice about what solution is best for your product.

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Language and culture are also important in Christmas

It’s Christmas time… a time of joy, celebration, family meals, presents… but Christmas traditions are not the same in all countries. Even vocabulary is different among countries where the same language is spoken. This is important if you are targeting several countries and you have a product or marketing campaign that will run during this period. As an example, we are going to talk about Christmas in Spain and in Argentina. Are you ready to learn some Spanish and its varieties?

To start with, Christmas in Spain takes place in invierno (winter), while in Argentina, as it is in the Southern hemisphere, takes place in verano (summer). You probably already know this, but it is easy to forget and your products may not have the same effect in each country. For example, if you sell ski boots and you have a special Christmas offer for the Spanish audience in Argentina, it will not have a big impact, as it will be summer there. However, it can be a success if you launch such a Christmas offer in Spain.

The special Christmas days in Spain are usually Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), Navidad (Christmas Day) and in some parts of Spain, San Esteban (St. Stephen’s Day, on the 26th December). In Argentina, only Nochebuena and Navidad are the actual Christmas celebration days.

The person giving the presents to children is also different.

While in Spain the Reyes Magos (the 3 Wise Men) give presents to children on the 6th January, El niño Dios (baby Jesus) is the one giving presents to Argentinian children on Nochebuena. This is little by little being replaced by Santa Claus due to American influence, but knowing the original tradition never hurts :).

Let’s now go to the funny stuff – food. Probably, as part of our Latin roots, it seems Christmas is the period of the year where you have to eat what you have not eaten during the rest of the year. This is why gym inscriptions increase considerably in January. In order to cope with the cold temperatures in Spain during Christmas time (it may not be as cold as in Russia, but winter in Spain can also be cold), it is normal to eat caloric food, like pavo en pepitoria (the most similar dish would be turkey fricassee), canelones (canneloni), cabrito rebozado (baby goat coated in breadcrumbs) or cochinillo asado (roasted suckling pig). You would expect that in Argentina, as it will be summer, people will have other meals, more related to summer, such as salads, fruit, chicken, etc. Wrong! People also have these caloric meals and even more strong meals like mondongo (callos). It is probably a tradition brought by the Spanish people who migrated to Argentina. While the meals are not very different, what is indeed different is how they are organized. In Argentina, it is typical to organize a meal a la canasta, which means that all participants bring something. In Spain, the hosts are usually the ones organizing and serving everything.

Christmas is also a time for sweets. In Spain people eat mantecados and polvorones (heavy, soft and very crumbly Spanish shortbread made of flour, sugar, milk, and nuts or almonds) and turrón (nougat). In Argentina, people also have pan dulce (panettone), which probably comes from the Italian tradition.

Both on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, at midnight, petardos (firecrackers) and fuegos artificiales (fireworks) are quite common on the streets. In Spain, this is usually left for New Year’s Eve only.

Another tradition to have a prosperous New Year is to have one uva (grape) for each bell that rings on the midnight of the 31st December. In Argentina, however, they have pasas (raisins).

We hope these examples describe the importance of language and culture adaptation. The way you introduce your product in the target country, not only in terms of language but also in terms of use (see our post Localization and gastronomy for further reference) will play an important role in the success of your market penetration.

At Jensen Localization we can help you to adapt your product to the target language and culture. We collaborate with marketing firms and we can also work directly with your own marketing consultants to make a successful entry in your target markets. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

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