If I read the headline “Vamos a los saldos”, I might remember a “tienda de saldos” from Mexico; but if the headline says instead “Vamos a los outlets”, I would know exactly what this means. If I read an ad that says “Revisión de esmog a buen precio” next to another ad saying “Smog check a buen precio”, I would trust the second ad. Why? Because I’ve been living in the U.S. for more than ten years, like most of my “paisanos” from Mexico. By now, many English words are part of our daily lives.
But some English words were also part of our daily lives in Mexico!
When I read “güisqui”, I couldn’t remember reading or writing this word when living in Mexico (I worked there as a copywriter), the word I remember is “whisky”. Same thing with the term “por encargo” to communicate “on-demand” in Spanish. When visiting my family last year in Guadalajara, I didn’t see any billboards with the words “teléfono inteligente”, all of them said “smartphone”.
And on top of this, there are some words that Spanish speakers living in the United States know better in English than in Spanish, like “smog check”, “subprime” and “freeway”.
I don’t translate some English words!
I want to share with you some of the words I would not translate. When communicating with the Spanish speaking market in the United States, I would leave these words in English. The reasoning behind this decision is very simple: I want to get my message across.
I want to communicate effectively with the Spanish speaking market in the United States.
Some words I don’t translate:
libre de impuestos
The other rule I break:
When including a foreign word in a Spanish sentence, Real Academia Española Dictionary recommends to write it in italics. This is a recommendation difficult to follow in the Marketing and Advertising industries, here in the United States. This recommendation works well if your translation targets Spanish speaking countries. But here, in the United States, it is not practical to italicize every “roaming” or “croissant” mention.
Now, let’s see some examples!
Spanish sentences including an English word:
When the English word is very well known among U.S. Spanish speakers, this is how I write the sentence:
Nuevos outlets para este Black Friday.
El smog no deja ver los edificios con claridad.
El mejor software que he utilizado.
Programas on-demand para toda la familia.
Este smartphone viene con todo lo que sueñas.
La mejor smart TV a tu alcance.
¡No más roaming!
When the English word is known among some U.S. Spanish speakers or is relatively new, this is how I would write the sentence:
Es una “master class” importante.
De la estación del tren, toma el “shuttle” para el aeropuerto.
Últimamente, nos bombardean con “fake news”.
Compra tu perfume en el área “duty free” del aeropuerto.
El “jet-lag” me afecta un par de días.
Las tiendas “pop-up” son una nueva tendencia.
Writing for the Spanish speaking market in the United States requires us to understand how we communicate in Spanish here in this part of the world. We are not going to write “échate pa’tras” to say “regrésate”, or “parkéate” to say “estaciónate”. U.S. Spanish speakers deserve better! But we are not going to write “autobús lanzadera” instead of “shuttle”, either.
If you have any questions about a word that you might want to leave in English, when writing for the Spanish speaking market in the United States, feel free to ask me below.