Natalia Infante Caylor, PhD.
Often I am asked by monolingual clients what type of Spanish I use when communicating. My answer is usually, "It depends on the Spanish-speaking population with whom I’m communicating."
When I’m asked to do a translation, focus group, or in depth-interviews in Spanish with Spanish-speaking populations in the U.S. I always ask several questions. The first one is where are the majority of the participants from, meaning their home country. By knowing more about where they’re from I could try to use words that are more common in their home country. If I have a mix of different Latin American participants with different dialects I use more standardized Spanish.
Differences in Dialects
For instance, the word computer in Spain is ordenador and in many other Spanish speaking countries is called computadora. Then there’s the manteca vs. mantequilla debate, many people from south American countries use the word manteca for butter, and in other countries to the north is more commonly known as mantequilla, because to them manteca is the equivalent of “lard.” For the word strawberries for example, in some south American countries like Paraguay and Argentina is known as frutilla, when in Mexico and other countries is known as fresas.
Lost in Translation
Although I’m not saying that these words are universal for every Spanish-speaking region, or that one is better than the other, it has been my experience at least knowing when to use which one. I can go on and on about the differences in words we use to communicate in Spanish and the importance of knowing which is which where. I love learning about languages and multiculturalism and how they influence each other. I’m grateful to be able to communicate across the board in Spanish and to be able to make it part of my professional life as a multicultural moderator. Please feel free to respectfully share your experience about times you communicated in Spanish, or any other language and any difference you noticed it. #Spanish, #multiculturalism, #neverstoplearning