Software Localization: which variance of Spanish for Latin America and USA
Thread poster: dcve
dcve
Canada
Jun 20

Hi,

I started working at a tech company a few weeks ago, and we have a presence in Latin America, USA, and Spain. I was wondering which variance of Spanish we should localise our software into for LatAm and the US. From what I gathered, even the Spanish that is spoken in the USA has its own particularities. I was wondering what the standard is for software localisation when it comes to Spanish. Do we localise into Mexican Spanish because Mexico has the highest number of Spanish speakers? Agencies offer LatAm Spanish, what does that really mean?

Thanks for your input.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
A name would be nice Jun 21

Maybe folks using mobile apps or texting all day would address each other by acronyms. Not me.
Using a name to identify yourself is a step in the right direction. Too many trolls and shifty people opening Proz empty accounts to ask questions around here.


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:42
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Win/Mac Jun 21

Fortunately for software "translation", the standard is to use the variant of the OS used by the software. If it runs on a Microsoft OS, you're better off choosing the "neutral" Spanish version on the Microsoft Language Portal (you have terminology, styleguides and complete TMs available there).

For OS X and iOS, they also have a general variant "es", but you have to register as a developer to be able to use the language resources (they are not available to the general public).

Android/Google products historically lean towards Microsoft's localization, although they do have some stylistic differences which you can check in some styleguides that are available around the web, but they also don't distribute these resources freely (the copies that are around have been shared by individual translators in a clear breach of whatever NDAs they signed).

If in doubt, go for the Microsoft localization: it has been the golden standard for a long time, and they have taken a lot of care with the terminology to make it palatable to Spanish speakers of all regions (with Mexico, USA, Spain and Argentina as the main markets). Plus, after so many years of usage, people are unconsciously used to the style and terminology, even if it's not what they would use colloquially in their country.

Localization is another beast, since you are forced to specify the locale (e.g. "Spain") for calendars, currency and many other little details that are definitely different between the variants. When agencies refer to "LatAm", they mean either Mexico or Argentina in terms of general translation and locale.

So basically, if you translate for different regions (depending on your OS and localization method) you can translate into a neutral Spanish and specify the locale for the software afterwards. Even if you want to sell an app for a specific market and want to adapt it to sound more relevant, you're better off localizing it into a general Spanish and then paying a native translator from that country to just edit whatever seems out of place.

Hope it helps!

[Edited at 2017-06-21 19:24 GMT]


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dcve
Canada
TOPIC STARTER
Win/Mac Jun 21

Hi Rossana,

Thank you for your input.

You mention translating into a neutral variance of Spanish for Latin America. Is Mexican Spanish closer to that variance? Basically, if I were to hire freelance translators instead of an agency, am I better of hiring Mexican translators or Argentinan translators?

Thanks!


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:42
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
How long is a piece of string? :) Jun 21

If they are competent, a translator from either country should be able to provide a good service if you specify that you are looking for a neutral variant. If you also want an easier fit with USA Spanish speakers, then you're better off with a Mexican translator. Do take care however to set out the base OS and check that they are familiar with all the existing IT resources.

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