Spanish is a romance language that originates from the Castile region of Spain; and today is spoken by an estimated 500 million people around the world. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world today behind Chinese. It is the official language in 21 countries including Mexico, Columbia, Spain, Argentina and Chile and, also, widely spoken in many African countries.
Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers with over 122 million followed by the United States with 50 million (41 million are native Spanish speakers). By 2050, the US is estimated to become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic with the Spanish Conquistadores and landed in the Americas. As well as spreading Christianity, and Spanish rule, the Spanish language swept through the area. After three centuries, a total of 18.6 million Spaniards settled in the Americas. As a result, Spanish became the national language of so many South American and Central American countries.
Welocalize understands how important Spanish is in terms of business and industry. The language holds the second highest place, after English, as a working language for international business and politics. The use of Spanish on the web has increased over 1100% between 2000 and 2013; and now Spanish is the second most read language on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.
Did you know? Spanish is the second most studied language in the world.
Modern Spanish evolved into what it is today because of the second Punic war in 210 BC. The Romans brought over Latin to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain as we know it today) and this mixed with several pre-Roman languages that existed in Spain at the time, including Basque, Iberian and Celtic. This evolved into what we know as Spanish. It is believed that although there were many different dialects and languages used in Spain the first written word dates back to the 9th century.
Spanish speakers have one of the most transcreated experiences on the planet. Due to most television shows and movies coming from the US and UK, Spanish speakers are used to listening to dubbed TV with Spanish speech over the top and watching English speaking TV and film with Spanish subtitles. This is the case in Spain and lots of South American countries. However, in Spain, more and more people are growing up learning English.
Some Spaniards can find learning English challenging as Spanish words are spelled exactly how they sound and don’t have any “silent letters” commonly found in English.
In Spain, most of the population has to speak different languages, especially English, in the work environment, more so than other nations do. The most effected industry is tourism; Spain is the 3rd most visited country in the world attracting 68.2 million international tourists in 2015. This creates a huge demand for international speakers working in the hospitality industry.
Spaniards are also expected to be competent in speaking another language in certain vertical sectors such as the Spanish manufacturing industry. The automotive industry in Spain is the second largest in Europe behind Germany. Ford, General Motors, Iveco, Nissan, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, and also Volkswagen all produce cars in Spain.
These international business operations require translation and interpretation for multiple types of content to ensure all internal and external stakeholders fully understand. For example, Iveco is Italian and Nissan is a Japanese company, requiring bilingual speakers to work on production lines. All factory health and safety information must be in the native language of all workers, product manuals and marketing materials must be linguistically and culturally appropriate for each audience.
Language enables global business in all areas and impacts everyone. Regardless of the language, localization, translation, transcription, transcreation and interpretation helps people communicate across cultural and geographic boundaries.
Based in the UK, Robert Davies is a member of the Welocalize Global Marketing and Sales Support Team.