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La RAE and US Spanish

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©Ixmati Communications, 2017. Unauthorized use or duplication of this material without permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mari D. González with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

By Mari D. González

I completed a translation project over the weekend and felt satisfied to deliver my work before the deadline. My client who does not speak Spanish​ fluently​ celled immediately to ask me ​to edit my work because ​she had found a mistake.

She discovered that in previous translations I have used “1ro” to abbreviate “first,” but this time I used “1.o” instead.

Why the change?

I wanted to follow the Royal Spanish Academy‘s (Real Academia Española-RAE) standard. In doing so, I confused my client and it is very likely that I’d have confused the intended audience who are more familiar with “1ro” too.

While in Mexico the agreed abbreviation for “primero [first]’ is “1o” without the dot or the “r” in between, in the U.S., the most common abbreviation is “1ro” which emulates “1st.” Both deviate from La RAE’s standards to accommodate to national preferences.

Because in intercultural communication as in translation meaning matters more than literal interpretation, I corrected my translation to follow not La RAE’s recommendations, but my client’s suggestion.

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