One of the most frequent questions that producers ask us is: What is neutral Latin American Spanish and why is it important? In “The Importance of Marketing to Hispanics Online in Spanish,” author Walter Godinez explains that “Historically, the U.S. Hispanic population has been predominantly Mexican (2/3 of the population), and while these numbers are not changing dramatically, the diversity of 1/3 of the Hispanic population has increased.”
Many Countries, Many Types of Spanish
With the exception of Brazil, each country in Latin America has its own way of speaking Spanish, with differing accents, terms and slang. The variations in Latin American Spanish are analogous to the differences between American, British, and Australian English. While sharing a common language, residents of these countries express themselves in very distinct ways. George Bernard Shaw famously said that the English and Americans are “two peoples divided by a common language”. The same could be said of people from different regions of Latin America. A commercial produced in Puerto Rico, for example, using colloquialisms from that island, is not likely to be fully understood by people in Argentina. As a result, they would not be engaged by the content. By creating media that accurately reflects the language of the target audience, producers maximize the impact of their ads.
Universality Across Diversity
The changing Hispanic ethnic demographic is increasing the diversity of Spanish idioms spoken in the United States. To create content that effectively targets the wider Hispanic population, it is necessary to use language that crosses borders. That’s where neutral Latin American Spanish comes in. What distinguishes this way of speaking is that the accent is not recognizable as being from one particular country or region, and the vocabulary favors words whose meaning is common in all of Latin America. The universality of the language makes it accessible to the diverse U.S. Hispanic audience, regardless of their countries of origin.
Here at Amador Bilingual Voiceovers, the vast majority of our family’s voiceovers are in neutral Latin American Spanish, though we’re also called on occasionally for regional accents that reflect our origins. Here’s an example of my neutral Latin American Spanish narration for the visitors’ orientation video at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston. Gracias to our creative longtime clients, the Richard Lewis Group, www.rlmg.com, who specialize in planning, design and production of media exhibits and applications for museums and institutions in North America and around the world.
To read more about neutral Latin American Spanish, check out our post “Neutral, Standard, North American“!