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Translating into Mexican Spanish - is it really necessary to be from Mexico?
Thread poster: Marisol Honsberg
Marisol Honsberg  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 31, 2003

I was born in Venezuela, came to the US 8 years ago and married a Mexican. I also speak Portuguse. I have seen several jobs posted requesting different tipes of Spanish translations, such as, Mexican Spanish. I know very well the differences between my Spanish and the some words used in Mexico and even in the US. I have also seen translations to "Mexican Spanish" in the US that have several deformations of the Spanish language.
Most of the times the jobs request a native. Some of these jobs are very technical and only a few words are different. I would like to know the opinions other translators have about this matter.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:49
French to Spanish
+ ...
I sould say so, yes. Oct 31, 2003

Even in technical translations, there are a lot of "deformaciones", as you say.
Sigo en español, con perdón...

No me especializo en traducciones técnicas, pero simplemente:

portaequipajes > cajuela > cofre > maletero... ¿cuál escoges para México?

Traduzco películas, con un nivel de complejidad relativamente bajo, pero jamás traduciría una al "venezolano", por ejemplo, a menos de contar con un compatriota tuyo a mi lado que me "localice" muchos de los términos comunes para mí.

¡He visto películas argentinas, por ejemplo, subtituladas al mexicano, para no ir más lejos, y me parece correcto!

Suerte.

Juan, México.


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Miguel Llorens  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some translation job ads I´d like to see: Oct 31, 2003

Spanish into New Zealand English translators sought. Only native speakers. Old Zealand English-speakers will be considered only if they possess extensive experience in automotive engineering.

French into Trinidadian English proofreaders. Please abstain from applying if your English is Tobaguian.

Canadian English specialists for short NGO project needed.

Romanian into Belicean English. Must have own Trados.

Filipino English into Bolivian Spanish translators needed. Some familiarity with Singaporean and Hong Kong English would be a plus. Must live in the U.S.

Of course, it is necessary to localize as much as possible, but ads for "Venezuelan Spanish" and "Honduran Spanish" in fields like geology or the impact of sustainable development on GDP are a sign that the whole thing has reached the reductio ad absurdum level. The short answer is I guess it depends on the type of text. Literature and marketing require natives of the specific countries. In other fields, international standards apply, in others, they don´t. If you´re interested in the project, approach the outsourcer with a brief statement of your opinions on the topic or bid for it with a colleague who is a native. It´s a pretty big topic and I´m sure there´s no consensus about it, but I´m curious as to why the industry doesn´t feel an equal need to localize to that degree when the target is English (e.g., why aren´t there ads for Mississippi English native speakers or Scottish English editors?). But that´s the theoretical aspect, you want to land a contract. Try to be as pragmatic as you can and educate your potential client if you feel there´s a chance your background is well suited to the task at hand. It sometimes works.

[Edited at 2003-10-31 15:59]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 19:49
English to Russian
+ ...
No firm opinions, just a note Oct 31, 2003

I do not speak Spanish and, therefore, cannot have any say with respect to the language specifics, but due to my experience as a project manager with several large U.S. translation agencies I can confirm that the requirement for 'Mexican' or "Venezuelian' Spanish is a common thing and many clients specify such point in their orders.

The same happens with "British" and "American" English. Here I can make certain judgements and I would dare to say that in a number of cases such requirement makes a certain sense. I live in the U.S. and sometimes I can see that it would be very helpful to establish a target audience when seeking an answer in the English pairs on Proz. A good example: question regarding 'allen key' in French-English pair. Dan was a hundred per cent right saying "allen key - that's how it's called in the UK, no doubt'. Of course, every American will understand what it is as well, but in 12 years of my experience as a technical translator in the U.S. all I've heard from Americans was 'allen wrench'.

Edited because the tailed guy who represents me on the picture stepped on the keyboard before I finished the sentence:)

[Edited at 2003-10-31 17:33]

[Edited at 2003-10-31 18:13]


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting topic... Oct 31, 2003

Hola Marisol,

It seems to me this is a similar question to the eternal "should one translate into a language other than their native language?" As we all know by now, there are as many answers as people

I can only talk about my past experience editing translations by Latin American colleagues into what was supposed to be Castilian Spanish for the European market...I trust I won't offend anyone with my observation that you can usually tell when someone is trying to "pass" for a local, so to speak, and the things that will "give you away" are very subtle. Often the translator would have made the correct choices when it came to specific words, but still the sentence would not "sound" natural to a Castilian ear.

I think it is one thing to be able to discern a specific use of the language, and a different thing to be able to reproduce it. Where I live in Chicago, the bulk of the Spanish-speaking community is of Mexican origin, and I have been faced with the dilemma of whether to accept assignments specifically targeted to that community. That would entail reproducing colloquial Mexican Spanish, which I would only undertake in close collaboration with a Mexican native. I have been translating on a volunteer basis for a community-based women's health center, and becoming a heavy user of the Kudoz system in the process (hola Juan Jacob, qué onda)...but personally I would not accept any paid assignments.

That said, I was a bit shocked by a recent job posting on Proz from an agency in Spain offering a document "to be translated into Spanish for the United States, so we are looking ONLY for Mexican translators, preferably living in the U.S.". I agree with Miguel, it makes you wonder about some of the assumptions being made.

Interesting topic

Cheers,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator, EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com



[Edited at 2003-11-13 17:11]


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Miguel Llorens  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
All the preceding observations are correct Oct 31, 2003

You can´t pass for a native speaker. My point was simply that the urge to localize in Spanish in technical and scientific subjects can be misguided. If you search past job postings for another universal language like Arabic, you don´t find the same requirements (Tunisian Arab, Egyptian Arab). Probably because there are simply fewer Arabic translators and there are way too many Spanish-speakers out there with a hotmail address and a dial-up connection. In a nutshell, where are the Irish English translators?

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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree, Miguel Oct 31, 2003

Miguel Llorens wrote:
My point was simply that the urge to localize in Spanish in technical and scientific subjects can be misguided.


Yes, I am in total agreement with you. That was the point I was bringing up in my last paragraph.

Regards,

S.G.


[Edited at 2003-10-31 22:31]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:19
English to Tamil
+ ...
I am glad that I didn't know all these things when I started my career Nov 1, 2003

I am glad that I didn't know all these things when I started my career nor the company that employed me as a French translator had any inkling about this. It was way back in 1981, when I attended an interview for the post of a French translator. Only two candidates (including myself) turned up. We were given a para in English to be translated into French. That was my first attempt to translate away from English and no dictionaries were allowed. I did the translation but the other fellow was helpless and couldn't even start. Then the interview started with a French professor from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) acting as the expert interviewer. The interview was conducted in French. I was the only choice available and I was offered the job. Looking back after a gap of 20 years, I would say this was a very casual approach and will be frowned upon. But wait before doing the frowning. More is to come. The interviewing committee chairman was the Chief Engineer (Utilities) and he couldn't stomach the idea that a full-fledged Engineer with 10 years' engineering experience was ready to change the career in mid-course. He casually asked me whether I was ready to accept the post of an engineer too. I said yes and I was appointed as a Design Engineer (Electrical) cum French translator. And I worked in this capacity too for the next 12 years.
The first translation assignment was a bill of quantities to be translated from Indian English into Algerian French. In my blissful ignorance of the fine differences among the various English and French versions, I merrily proceeded with the work and wonder of wonders the Algerians were able to understand my French and started raising engineering queries from my French translation. Some nine years into my stay in my company (Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited), a French French expert visited one of our plants and I acted as an interpreter for him. No problem. The moral of the story: One cannot pick and choose if the choice is limited, like no fuss between Tunisian and Algerian Arabic. IDPL was just not in a position to pick and choose. There were only two candidates and one gave up the race in the beginning itself. So what? Everybody was happy.
As for the engineering assignments, I was in charge of the electrical and instrumentation department in the Gurgaon plant of the IDPL. It was necessary to put up a captive power plant and I was in-charge of this project from the beginning till the completion, to be followed by the operation and maintenance. My relationship with the company was mutually beneficial and what more can one want?
Regards,
N.Raghavan


[Edited at 2003-11-01 04:15]

[Edited at 2004-01-14 10:51]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, absolutely Nov 1, 2003

Mexican readers are very picky about the language.

If they don't feel it as "their own" the reaction is usually rejection.

Así es esto del futbol [sic]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
A special case Nov 1, 2003

Miguel Llorens wrote:
You can´t pass for a native speaker. My point was simply that the urge to localize in Spanish in technical and scientific subjects can be misguided.

AFAIK, Mexico is a special case regarding different varieties of Spanish other than the local one.

The problem is not that it's not understood. The problem is that it's not accepted (with few exceptions).

FWIW, about 90% of the work I receive from clients requires Mexican Spanish (one of my specialties).

[Edited at 2003-11-01 23:10]


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:49
German to English
+ ...
Stuck in the middle of the Atlantic Nov 3, 2003

Miguel Llorens wrote:
In a nutshell, where are the Irish English translators?


I have worked with Irish translators - they end up having to write British English or American English, when, in my limited experience, their English fell somewhere in-between and to the side of those two choices.


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Marisol Honsberg  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
same wave length Nov 3, 2003

[quote]Susana Galilea wrote:

That said, I was a bit shocked by a recent job posting on Proz from an agency in Spain offering a document "to be translated into Spanish for the United States, so we are looking ONLY for Mexican translators, preferably living in the U.S.". I agree with Miguel, it makes you wonder about some of the assumptions being made.

]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:19
English to Tamil
+ ...
Employers should know better Nov 4, 2003

Out of laziness some employers do not bother to analyze their requirements. Let me quote my own example. In my earlier posting in this thread, I wrote about my getting a double designation of an engineer cum translator. There is a bitter experience of my employer behind this surprising turn of events. My predecessor in the company was an M.A. in French, graduating out of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India. She turned out to be a disaster. She was M.A. alright, but the company failed to see deeper. After finishing higher secondary school she took up B.A. French and then proceeded to M.A. French. She spoke melodious French but that's all. She was helpless in translating engineering literatures from French to English and vice versa. My company was obliged to outsource the work at high cost. When it was my turn, they knew what they wanted and just hired me, offering the engineer's post too in the bargain. The rest is history.
I will not like to repeat what I have already written elsewhere about the native versus non-native translation, except to say that for technical literature translations, a thorough knowledge of the subject being translated plays a more important part. In the translation of literary works, the language plays a more important part. For example, I will not dare to translate Harry Potter into German or French.
Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2003-11-04 03:24]


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ecuatraddesign
United States
Local time: 20:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
I couldn't agree more Nov 6, 2003

Dyran Altenburg wrote:

AFAIK, Mexico is a special case regarding different varieties of Spanish other than the local one.

The problem is not that it's not understood. The problem is that it's not accepted (with few exceptions).

FWIW, about 90% of the work I receive from clients requires Mexican Spanish (one of my specialties).

[Edited at 2003-11-01 23:10]


Dyran,

I couldn't agree more with you.

I work at the Mexican embassy in DC. My work is mostly into English, but whenever I have to translate for them into Spanish, the text goes through several revisions before they feel it's acceptable.

My Spanish is more South American, which is very different than Mexican Spanish. The changes they make are not just limited to words and terminology. I often get comments like "this is correct, but it doesn't sound quite right," and then they go through the translation with a red pen. Usually, though, they check with me before making changes to make sure they haven't missed anything or changed the meaning of some important word, which sometimes happens.

In fact, most of the changes they make are stylistic and sometimes they strike me as petty, or just correcting for its own sake, but it's my job and I have to comply (Not that I'm complaining, though. They are very nice people).

[Edited at 2003-11-06 17:39]


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
Mexican dialect???? Nov 13, 2003

"These documents are to be translated into Spanish (Mexican dialect), Arabic (Classical) and Farci. The client has chosen these languages so the translation has to be appropriate for each population."

Just copied from a ProZ.com job offer!
Another proof that translators need to explain (I do not very much like the term "educate") to their clients (and agencies) that Spanish is one language, spoken differently depending on the country.

I wonder what people from the US, Britan or Australia would think if I requested a transaltion in their respective "dialect"!


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