Let’s face it – this summer of sport belongs to the Spanish. Nadal at Wimbledon, Euro 2008, Sastre in the Tour de France… it’s been a great season for the country of Spain. But this is a country divided by different cultures, foods, even languages. As Independent journalist James Lawton notes, Spain is best described as not a country but a “cohesive nation”.
Take, for example, Catalonia. Laws enforced after the fall of the Franco regime (which itself followed a bloody and divisive civil war) require that Spanish language be taught in state schools for 3 hours a week maximum – the same as English and other foreign languages. More than nine out of 10 people in the region can now speak Catalonian.
This wide variation from region to region in Spain is particularly important to bear in mind with Spanish translation, in terms of both language and culture. For example, tapas (small dishes of food including chorizo and Serrano ham) and Cava (local champagne) are two things that come to mind when you think of Spain, along with the less palatable bull-fighting. Yet of these ‘Spanish’ delicacies, Cava is only produced in Catalonia, and tapas is a Basque tradition.
When it comes to business translation, one rule is key: “Speak your readers’ language”. That is a language that changes from person to person, region to region – not just country to country. Nowhere in the world is this more apparent than in the “cohesive nation” of Espaňa (and that’s before you even consider the variants found within Latin American countries). However, for now, division within the country lies largely forgotten. As stated by Madrid-based political analyst David Mathieson in The Guardian: “Football has united Spain”.