So, you’ve got a project that you need translated from English into Spanish. From the outset, it appears that all you’ll require is the services of a bilingual translator who speaks both English and Spanish to take your English words and pop them into Spanish.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all Spanish for all occasions and people groups. Take Spain, for instance. The European country has its own brand of Spanish distinct from the Spanish spoken in Latin American countries. The Spanish spoken in Spain, referred to as Castilian Spanish, has what some might consider a dental sound while the softer, more fluid Spanish we’re used to hearing in North America is referred to as Latin American Spanish.
Ever heard the song “Feliz Navidad”? You’ll note that the song is sung in Latin American Spanish and not in continental Europe’s Castilian Spanish. In Latin American Spanish, the letter Z is pronounced like an “S” in this particular situation whereas in the Castilian Spanish of Spain, the Z here is pronounced like a “TH.” This singular phonetic difference, in our case the observance of a theta, drastically changes the way a word is spoken and how it sounds. Quite a difference, you’ll agree.
While thousands of Spanish language recordings are completed each day, many companies don’t know the first thing about finding a good translator let alone casting a qualified voice actor to narrate their Spanish script.
According to OmniGlot.com, “the most notorious example is the use of the word email or e-mail in Latin American instead of the more literal translation, correo electrónico, that is used in Spain. These differences are evident especially in recently adopted technical terms. In Latin America they speak of la computadora while in Spain it’s el ordenador, and each of the two words sounds foreign in the region where it is not used.”
Spanish also differs significantly across North, Central and South America with Latin American Spanish being spoken in a variety of dialects, mainly determined by geography. In alphabetical order, these include:
- Bolivian Spanish
- Caribbean Spanish
- Central American Spanish
- Andean Spanish
- Chilean Spanish
- Colombian – Ecuadorian Spanish
- Mexican Spanish
- Northern Mexican Spanish
- Paraguayan Spanish
- Peruvian Spanish
- Puerto Rican Spanish
- Spanish from the River Plate or Buenos Aires Spanish or Montevideo Spanish
Not surprisingly, a lot can get lost in translation.
With Spanish being one of the most widely spoken languages on earth and upwards of 35% of America’s population currently comprising of Hispanic citizens, reaching Spanish speaking markets with the right wording is becoming increasingly vital.
How do you know which words to use? Is there anyone who can help?
The key to a solid translation is working with a translator who is a native speaker of the language you are translating in. Furthermore, collaborating with native speakers will help you communicate in an effective and more meaningful way to your intended audience.
Spanish voice over artist and voice director, Simone Fojgiel, knows this all too well. A native of Montevideo, Uruguay now residing in the US, Fojgiel has found her niche working with companies who want to sound authentic, polished and broadcast-ready for the Spanish ears of their target audiences. With a degree in Social and Mass Communications, specializing in Radio and Advertising as well as 25 years experience in the industry, you could say she is a champion of the Spanish language and its spoken word recordings. Part of what Fojgiel does is review the script before a recording session to ensure that it is localized to the people meant to hear the message. She then directs the voice-over artist in delivering the script accurately and with purpose.
Recording isn’t just about getting the words right though. As with most things, you’ve got to know the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How to give the read a heart.
Fojgiel told Voice Over Times, “When working with my clients, I direct voice talent as to the intention and interpretation that a Spanish script needs. Not every script in English has to be said in the same way in Spanish, and that has to do with tones, emphasis in certain words, and so on. Directing is not only a matter of language and translation skills. It’s a matter of being very technical and understanding how the Advertising/Production industry works as well.”
The advantage of having a Voice Over Director who is a Native Spanish speaker for your Spanish campaign is that she or he knows how to interact with the Talent in his or her mother tongue while being an intermediary between the agency, the client and the Sound Engineer. That, and you want run into barriers concerning the script and the communication of a message.
In many cases, second or third generation Spanish American talent are translating and or voicing scripts for audiences they are linguistically removed from, with authenticity getting lost in the mix. “Many people don’t know how to tell a good translation from a bad translation,” Fojgiel shares. “Agencies come with scripts that are horribly translated which wastes their time, money and credibility, putting their brand image at risk.”
Not only does the scripting need to be tailored to the audience, the Spanish scripts translated from English tend to be upwards of 15-20% longer than the original. Refining the script at this point is necessary in order to make the Spanish script fit into the same amount of time the English script was allotted. Meeting project specifications is essential. Fojgiel relates, “You need to have a large vocabulary so that you can substitute words to streamline the Spanish script so that it fits into the same timing as the English script.”
Most US programs cater to Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban audiences. Being able to translate and speak in Neutral Latin American Spanish is of great importance. Neutral Latin American Spanish is accessible enough to Spanish speakers in multiple places and can be used with great success.
Approximately 70% of the scripts sent to Fojgiel by her own voice-over clients require that the Spanish translation be redone. A clear opportunity to help companies preserve their brands in the eyes of Spanish audiences was becoming more and more apparent. When a friend recommended that she apply her passion and expertise in this area on a larger scale, Fojgiel’s consulting and voice-over directing career took off.
Simone Fojgiel offers voice-over direction, serving as a bridge between the client, producers, engineers and talent. She is able to translate and proofread scripts within a day or two prior to the recording session. If desired, she can also provide creative copywriting in Spanish and music production services. Experience in broadcast radio at Océano FM (1992-2005), voice-over work for global clientele and serving as the voice of international awarded campaigns at the Cannes Festival and Clio Awards speak to Simone Fojgiel’s gifts well. Her services are available via phone, Skype, or if desired, ISDN.