The Difficulties Involved in Spanish-English Translation
Spanish as a language is markedly different from English, which makes Spanish translation particularly tough. It is a Romance language that is closely associated with Portuguese and Italian. The huge differences in the two languages make Spanish-English translation a challenging job so that a translator has to be extremely careful while converting a document from Spanish to English or vice versa. Let us have a look at the obvious challenges or hurdles translator can face:
- In Spanish language, an adjective is often placed after the noun. However, that is not the case in English. While making any kind of English-Spanish translation, it is extremely important to remember this rule.
- Spanish does not involve any one-to-one correspondence as far as use of tenses is concerned. Thus, it can lead to an incorrect use of a simple tense in place of a future or progressive one. If the translator is a native Spanish, he can have a hard time forming negatives or interrogatives in English. This is because in Spanish, there is no auxiliary in such structures.
- The general word order of Spanish is usually subject-verb-object, which is similar to English. But, more flexibility is allowed by the former so that words that are to be stressed are usually placed at the fag end of the sentence. A translator doing Spanish-English translation should keep this in mind so that there is no issue of non-standard syntax.
- In Spanish, there is often no need to use "it", "he" or "I" because the verb tenses alter with the subject. But, in English, you cannot do away with the subject. For instance, a sentence like "is always a smart idea to eat radish" does not make any sense. This should be remembered while doing Spanish-English translation.
- English basically has 3 types of verbs – the past tense, the past participle and the infinitive. The other types only add the same auxiliary verbs. Of course, there are a few aberrations like the addition of "s" in third person singular. But, essentially, there are 3 main verb forms. However, in Spanish, you have 15 types of each of the verbs, along with the gerund and past participle. Within these 15 types, the verb has 6 styles for indicating who is the originator or speaker of the action. While in English, we use "I have", "we have", "you have", "they have" and "she has", in Spanish, expressions like "yo tengo", "nosotros tenemos", "tu tienes" (casual you), "ellos tienen" and "ella tiene" are used. What is more, the vos form is also used, taking the spelling count to 90 for a single verb. This suggests how tricky English-Spanish translation can get.
- There is a strong correspondence between the spelling of a word and its sound in Spanish. However, in English, it is not so regular. Also, there are only three double-letter combinations in Spanish, namely cc, rr and ll. However, in English, the count is much much more. Professionals involved in English-Spanish translation often forget to reduce double letters of English to a single one while doing Spanish translation.
All these issues prove that Spanish translation is definitely not an easy job. High proficiency is required in both the languages for performing flawless and authentic English-Spanish translation and Spanish-English translation.
Writing systems |
Language and languages |
Language learning |
Learning vocabulary |
Language acquisition |
Motivation and reasons to learn languages |
Being and becoming bilingual |
Celtic languages |
Sign Languages |
Other languages |
Minority and endangered languages |
Constructed languages (conlangs) |
Reviews of language courses and books |
Language learning apps |
Teaching languages |
Languages and careers |
Language and culture |
Language development and disorders |
Translation and interpreting |
Multilingual websites, databases and coding |
Other topics |
Spoof articles |
How to submit an article
Why not share this page:
If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.
If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or by contributing in other ways. Omniglot is how I make my living.
Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.