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Spanish (many variants)

Accepted terminology is user-driven in Spanish gaming translation

As opposed to English, European Spanish uses different pronouns for each main register (formal use requires ‘usted or ustedes’ vs. and informa use requires ‘tú or vosotros’). This usage varies greatly across dialects and countries. In English there is no such distinction, but it is easy to appreciate the difference in tone between ‘you guys’ and ‘you’.  When addressing members of the board of your company, it’s unlikely that you’d ask, “So how are you guys doing today?” The formal and informal tone is even more developed in Spanish and is nuanced uniquely in each context and country.

In Spain, ‘tú’ has become commonplace and ‘usted’ is quickly being phased out of communication. Today it would be quite odd to call a friend ‘usted’ in Spain and given the target audience for online gaming, in most cases ‘tú’ is the most appropriate pronoun. However, disclaimers, terms and conditions or correspondence related to identity verification would most definitely require the use of the formal ‘usted’. Being able to adjust the language register accordingly is very important in order to avoid alienating our audience and to secure productive communication.

Choose your words carefully!

Many online gaming concepts are new to the Spanish language and have no Spanish equivalent (e.g. ‘add-on tournament’, ‘buy-in’, ‘bonus rollover’). Other terms can be translated in different ways (e.g. ‘reel’ = ‘tambor’, ‘carrete’ or ‘barril’). Also, it is important to avoid ‘false friends’ – words that look similar but mean something completely different (e.g. when in Italy, beware of signs reading “casino,” unless, of course, you are looking to go to a brothel).

These are just a few examples of why it is important to pick a partner who chooses words carefully. It is important for the translator to have creative flair in order to convey your messages effectively, even with fewer words than usual.

Size matters!

Another challenge when translating into Spanish is that it is more ‘verbose’ than English (on average, Spanish content is 25% longer). When it comes to banners, in-game buttons or marketing messages, size matters!

What is it with the upside-down question and exclamation marks?

The upside-down or inverted question marks and exclamation points of Spanish are unique to Spanish. But they make a lot of sense: When you’re reading, you can tell long before the end of a sentence whether you’re dealing with a question, something that isn’t always obvious.

The funny Spanish letter with the squiggle on top

We only just finished exchanging our best wishes for 2013: “Happy New Year” in English or ‘Feliz Año Nuevo’ in Spanish. So, what is that strange-looking letter with the squiggle on top? It is letter ‘ñ’, a distinctive, instantly recognizable feature of Spanish writing. Avoid it at your own peril! The friendly ‘Happy New Year’ takes a strange new meaning if you miss letter ‘n’ and say: ‘Feliz Ano Nuevo’… which loosely translates as ‘Happy New Behind’.

Exclamation marks and letter ‘ñ’ illustrate some of the things that content managers need to watch out for when handling Spanish texts.

Loeanwords – there and back again

One of the key reasons for the vast vocabulary in the English language is its use of loanwords – words borrowed from many languages. Some scholars put the number of Spanish-origin words in the English language at 10,000 (e.g. ‘cigar’, ‘mustang’, ‘tornado’ or ‘guerrilla’). Although this figure is certainly higher for French or German, it remains a significant contribution to the English lexicon.

However, this process also works the other way around, particularly in the fields of technology, entertainment and sports media. Just as an example, ‘hat-trick’, ‘MVP’ or ‘pole’ are everyday words in Spanish today.

A long time ago, using such English words was preferred in Spain as a sign of status and it was commonplace for sports commentators to use ‘goal’, ‘corner’ or ‘football’. Later, there was an effort to adapt or “Spanishize” those words – ‘goal’ became ‘gol’, ‘corner’ became ‘saque de esquina’ and ‘football’ became ‘fútbol’.

Nowadays, there is a mixed approach to anglicisms and the ultimate fate of English-origin words is varied. Some words are kept exactly as in English, both in pronunciation and spelling (‘golf’, ‘rugby’ or ‘cricket’); some are adapted to Spanish (e.g. ‘voleibol’ for ‘volleyball’); sometimes the spelling is the same but pronunciation is different (e.g. ‘club’) and finally, sometimes newly created Spanish words take an English-like form (e.g. ‘puenting’, stemming from the Spanish ‘puente’ = ‘bridge’), which means ‘bungee jumping’.

All of the above goes to show that vocabulary is very dynamic. Picking the right translations is challenging and requires first-hand contact with how language is being used today.

Follow the leader

Because much on online gaming content is so new in Spain, currently accepted terminology is user-driven to a significant extent. One of the great advantages of All-In’s industry specialization is that translators are constantly handling new content from different operators, which requires ongoing terminology research and in turn, keeps them up to speed on what is actually being used in the Spanish online gaming community, whether it is an adaptation to Spanish, a literal translation or an English word.

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