Here are two simple phrases to make a point. “You will find the books on the table.” “On the table, you will find the books.” Here we have the exact same words, but in a different order. Obviously they are both correct, but it’s interesting how many people will insist on their choice as being the correct version. This is very common and something we deal with everyday in our review process. We always make it a point to mention this to our clients prior to starting a new project or establishing a new working relationship. The preferred word in one country might not be the preferred word in another.
Not long ago we were translating a technical document that had the word, ball bearing. The document was going to be distributed in various countries in Latin America. We chose a translator from Colombia who was an engineer with more than 20 years of experience translating technical documents. His choice was rodamientos. Our client sent the translation to company offices in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Panama, and Costa Rica and received the following versions of ball bearings: rodamientos, cojinete de bolas, cojinete de municiones, rodillo, balines, rulemanes, and bolas de metal.
Our client couldn’t afford to send 7 different versions of the document, so we settled on cojinete de bolas, which perhaps was not preferred, but well enough understood by all. Typically this is not a major concern with technical terminology. A hammer is a hammer; a nail is a nail, etc. I used this example as an illustration. However, when dealing with topics such as food, clothing, etc., regionalisms often come into play. For more information see: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Regionalism+(linguistics).
Although regionalisms vary from country to country, in our experience Spanish has the widest variation.
There are 21 countries where Spanish is at least one of the recognized official languages.
For a broader perspective of language variations see: http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/countries_by_languages.htm
Our almost 30 years of experience in the translation industry at TSI is proof that we can get your documents translated properly, and unlike other companies, we use real human translators who speak the language natively. Reach out for an estimate if you're in need of document translation of any kind.
Francis Semmens is the founder of TSI and author of all blog posts with a focus on translation for clients and translators alike.