What is “international Spanish? Isn’t Spanish just…well…Spanish?

Around the world nearly 500 million people speak Spanish as their first language across 21 countries. Spanish is among the top four languages in the world in terms of numbers of speakers and the British Council recently rated it as the most “useful” second language for native English speakers.

And just like Standard English, there is such a thing as a neutral, Standard Spanish used and understood by Spanish speakers to make sure people throughout the Spanish-speaking world can communicate with each other as easily as people from Britain and the United States can.

But just like in the English-speaking world, there is a huge amount of variation in how people from different regions use Spanish, split roughly into three different areas: pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

In vocabulary regional varieties of Spanish often use completely different words for the same thing. It’s particularly noticeable with food, everyday objects, and clothes. For example, a bus might be a colectivo in Argentina and Venezuela, an ómnibus in Perú and Uruguay, micro in Chile, camión in Mexico and parts of Central America, and guagua in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. But every Spanish speaker knows what an autobús is. That’s Standard Spanish.

At thebigword we’ve been working in regional variations of language like Spanish for a long time – we have the expertise to take into account these variants to make sure communications are always understandable to a local audience.

For Spanish, we work across three different variant groups: – Castillian or European Spanish – Spanish spoken in Spain.. – Latin American Spanish and its variations – Spanish spoken in the Americas, as opposed to European Spanish. – International or Standard Spanish – terms that the majority of Spanish speakers worldwide will understand, avoiding regional words and idioms.

It’s vital that a language service provider understands the target audience or market required. At the bigword we use native translators to make sure we always get the right Spanish variant.

However, we also translate into Standard Spanish, avoiding localisms for businesses that operate across the entire Spanish-speaking world.