So you’ve decided you want a Spanish voiceover for your project? Good news! You are in the right place! As English and Spanish bilingual voice actors, we often receive inquiries and quote requests for Spanish voiceover of already-existing recordings in English. So, what’s next?
Two things to consider: translation and accents.
Consider translation the backbone of this project as this can impact your ultimate project goals. Here are some considerations when it comes to professional translations:
- Google Translate is not always right. While this technology is improving, it’s still a long way from being able to produce a natural, intelligible translation. One of our co-workers once used Google Translate to help her understand an email in Spanish. The person writing explained that she had been on tour with her father’s band, which Google translated as: “I’ve been of tour with my potato’s orchestra.”
- Get ample vocabulary, fitting your business needs. We’ve seen translations done by someone, perhaps a co-worker or employee of the client, who speaks Spanish, but not always very well. Many Americans of Hispanic descent grew up speaking Spanish at home, but being educated in this country, they never learned to write correctly in Spanish. Often their vocabulary is limited to what they used as kids speaking to their parents and can significantly impact how well your message is delivered.
- Word count matters. Did you know? A straight translation of English to Spanish often yields as many as 1/3 more words. When it comes to voiceovers with a set video timing, this makes a difference in our voiceover speed. Economy of language is important to make sure we are not racing through text and match the video perfectly.
We always encourage clients to have their copy translated professionally. It makes our job much easier, allows us to be part of a quality product that we can be proud of, and keeps them from wasting money on a professional recording of an unprofessional translation.
What kind of Spanish is right for your project? Think about the goal and objectives of your project and of course, your audience. As in English, throughout the Spanish-speaking world there are many regional accents and dialects.
Mexican Spanish is widespread, especially in the Southwest, California and Texas. Mexicans and people of Mexican descent comprise most of the Spanish speakers in the U.S.
- In South Florida, most Spanish speakers come from a Cuban background.
- In the Northeast one is more likely to hear accents from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Central America.
Looking to target a national or international market? Recordings, especially commercials, targeted to a limited geographical area, may feature regional accents reflecting the majority Hispanic population of that region. In the commercial and entertainment world, however, producers long ago figured out that to reach a wider audience it made sense to use Spanish that was not regionally-specific, but more universally understandable and acceptable. This is often referred to as “Neutral,” “Neutral Latin American,” or “Standard” Spanish. I avoid the term “standard”, as there’s really no such thing – what’s standard in Latin America can be considered wrong in Spain, and vice versa.
A “Neutral Latin American” variant has the following characteristics:
- Steers clear from regionally-specific vocabulary* in favor of words understandable to anyone from the Spanish-speaking world
- Avoids regional accents
- Tends toward a less inflected read, avoiding the “sing-songiness” that characterizes many regional dialects.
While there are appropriate uses for regional Spanish in voiceovers, the advantages of using Neutral Spanish for reaching a wide audience are clear.
With a professional, Neutral Spanish translation, and a professional recording, you maximize the impact of your message allowing it to appeal to a broader audience. And for those of us in the communication business, reaching people with an effective message is what it’s all about.
Now here’s a twist, what about having a Hispanic accent in your English voiceover?
We can do that too! In fact, we recommend you use our Acent-O-Meter to better gauge what level of accent makes sense for you. These levels of accent may make sense if you are wishing to appeal to a Hispanic audience that predominantly speaks English or if you are working on a project that requires accent variety for creative purposes.
Whatever your voiceover need is, we would love to help you!
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