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Analysis: Translations: Is this the Spanish U.S. Hispanics Deserve?

The image (see below) of a prescription drug shows the following Spanish-English translation. “Best if used by date shown on end of can”


The image (see below) of a prescription drug shows the following Spanish-English translation.

“Best if used by date shown on end of can”

Translation: “Mejor de ser usado durante la fecha por el final del puede”

Our Comment: What is this?

And below it gets even funnier. “Store in cool dry place”

Translation: “Tienda en un lugar Chulo, Seco”

Our Comment: “Chulo” means pimp in Spanish (wtf ???)

To anyone who has some command of the Spanish-language, these translations do not make any sense. They devalue the Spanish-language and the audience who is supposed to understand it (or not). Unfortunately, bad, horrible, translations are often more the rule than the exception in the U.S. Hispanic market. And not just on prescription drugs but on PSA’s, street signage, advertising and media content. These recurrent mistakes go against the credibility of the U.S. Hispanic marketing, content and media industries. We are not saying that U.S. Hispanics should talk exactly like Spaniards, Argentineans or Mexicans. As some of our Linked In Group members say there is no “neutral Spanish” either. ‘

Language is fluent, even democratic; a certain integration of English vocabulary and grammar into the Spanish spoken in the U.S. has to be welcomed. Translation is not a rocket science. As the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1996) pointed out, translation is based on emphasis and omission. But before going that deep, to translate the indications of a prescription drug, is just about doing a good translation job.

The richness of the Spanish language and culture has to be preserved by doing a better translation work. As members of the U.S. Hispanic advertising, content and media industries we have the responsibility to do much better.

What do you think?

You can comment here, or on our Linked in Forum.

Portada is launching its Linked In Forum: The Forum is an ideal vehicle for Portada’ audience to share views and best practices on important topics affecting the Hispanic marketing, content and media industries.

Portada audience members can provide relevant comments to topics published on (particularly in regular Features such as “Analysis” and “Best Practices”). Every two weeks a particularly controversial topic will be presented by Portada’s Editorial Team for discussion. Of course, Portada Linked in Forum members may propose topics for discussion; Portada’s editorial team then can expand and work on.

Linked In Forum contributors’ comments will also be published online on and in Portada’s quarterly print issue.

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