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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.
I’m yet to see how “Tu vales por two” resonates with bilinguals because “two” sounds contrived. The Spanish phrase is, “Vales por dos.” Replacing “dos” for “two” does not make this phrase Spanglish. It makes it incorrect in English and in Spanish and for that matter in Spanglish.
This is a good example of amateur Spanglish, non-fluent Spanglish or Spanglish for beginners. For Spanglish to work, it has to be a mix of emotionally-charged words in Spanish that are commonly known among Spanish speakers which do not translate in well English or words that were first learned in English and never learned in Spanish because they are too long or impractical.
Spanglish is an “insiders” language that is learned through socialization and mingling with other Spanglish-speakers. Spanglish is spoken among a subculture of in-group members who grew up speaking Spanish and English simultaneously.
By Mari D. González
Here are two interesting quotes on Nahuatl, the language spoken in what is today Central Mexico and parts of Central America which has given Spanish many words.
“At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl also became a literary language, and many chronicles, grammars, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries.” Cagner, 1980:13
By Mari D. González
Last year, I was approached by Lee Raymundo, MBA candidate at UCLA. He asked for an interview. He wrote:
“I read your article ‘Marketing to Second-Generation Latinos’ with
great interest and believe your insight would be of great value to me. I have
been trying to understand the behavior and culture of second generation Latinos vs. first generation and what ideals would most likely appeal to them. I understand that Bud Light is especially popular with this segment but have so far, struggled to understand why.”
He explained that his team was working with Budweiser, “on understanding the most effective way to reach the Latino community with a brand that resonates with this segment.” So, we addressed his questions. I gave him a general overview on the language preferences for first- and second-generation Latinos/Hispanics, which are basically related to acculturation.
Based on that particular interview and several other similar conversations, I have concluded that many professionals trying to reach Latinos/Hispanics assume that Latinos/Hispanics fall into one single market–an assumption that is too general.
“Latino/Hispanic” is a term used in census-taking to track people whose
heritage can be traced to 21 countries in Latin America plus Spain (Europe),
but should not be used—or misused—when marketing to a specific population under this umbrella term.Thus, every time I am asked to talk about Latinos/Hispanics, I always reply with the same question, “Which segment of Latinos/Hispanics?”
Most people do not understand the huge cultural, socioeconomic, and generational differences among Latinos aside from their country of origin, language of preference, and acculturation levels. Language is of utmost importance. Yet, it should not be understood simply as English vs.Spanish, but how well the target group speaks either language and how extensive is their vocabulary in either one.
Other questions include: Has the market segment been schooled and/or received college degrees in Spanish or in English? Do they prefer reading in English but speaking Spanish at home? It might be that English is the language they learned to read and write grammatically, but they prefer the emotional connection associated with the sounds and certain words in Spanish. Our accents and the extent of our vocabulary tell a lot about who we are culturally, where we come from, our education and socioeconomic levels–all of which are important marketing indicators for Hispanic marketing strategic planning.
There is also the “American Latino/Hispanic” layer, which encompasses all Latinos/Hispanics living in the U.S. and can be very subtle. For instance, most first-generation, Spanish-dominant Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. know common English-language terms they use in their daily lives even though their primary language is Spanish at home and work.
Moreover, there are cultural dimensions that second-generation, bilingual and English-dominant Latinos/Hispanics do not give up and that includes collectivism—us, we, nosotros. That is the one specific example I gave to Mr. Raymundo. I told him that whatever message he is trying to communicate across the board with Latinos/Hispanics, do not market to them through an individualistic identity—me, I, only myself—because that’s crossing into assimilation terrain and an assimilated Latino/Hispanic no longer counts culturally as a Latino/Hispanic.
By Mari D. González
We Marketers and Latinos who study intergenerational and broad-based Latinos/Hispanics can be both intrigued and frustrated by their complexities. Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. keep growing not only in numbers but in intricacy. Thus, over-simplifying them as a group simply does not cut it. Early demographic predictions indicate that “the final figure could surpass 55 million, or 17% of the U.S. population.” (Ruben Navarrette, March 2011, CNN Opinion). Complete U.S. Census data has not been released as of today.
We need both hard data and a continuous dose of culture to speak as up-to-date and savvy professionals. We need to be informed by statistics but also through collaboration, conversations, self-observation and self-directed research.
Below is my short exchange on Facebook’s Hispanic and Online Marketing group with one of its members and a Hispanic Marketing Consultant.
Mari: Because Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S form a very large and culturally heterogeneous group, one of the complexities relate to “what language marketers should use” when targeting them –Spanish, English, both, and/or the hybrid Spanglish. As you indicate, segmentation is also generational; 18-25 year-olds prefer “bilingual/Spanglish.” I recommend that you check what Univision radio has done, at least in the Bay Area. They have 2 very popular radio stations, La Kalle (bilingual/Spanglish with a good mix of English and Spanish pop music) and Radio Romántica (boleros, groups, rancheras in Spanish only). What Univision may have concluded is that the Spanish-dominants are from an older generation and/or hold onto their country-of-origin values.
HM: Hi Mari and thank you! I will check out your blog and look into your suggestions. Generationally speaking, I’m wondering how the 35-50 year old Hispanics like their content as well, since they make up the largest growing segment of online users. For me, radio is a slightly different animal. It seems I also need to get a current assessment of our main market, Miami, and break down the current profile of online users who live in or travel to this diverse city. And judging from Facebook’s research, their top Hispanic users come from Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. So I’ve got to overlay this somehow since these countries also represent a growing portion of the local Hispanic market. I believe the Colombians are now the second largest socioeconomic group behind the Cubans [in Miami, FL].
Mari: How do 35-50 year-old users prefer content? It all depends on the platform. Is it more professionally-oriented? Then it will be English. Is it more social? Then, it will be a combination of English and Spanish, and of their culture of origin and their culture of residence con un toque Colombiano, Cubano y/o Mexicano [with a Colombian, Cuban and/or Mexican touch]. However, there is this “Latino” encompassing layer that gives us a group identity. So spice it up “con un toque Latino” as well.
Edited by Connie Cobb
Mari D. González
Does Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language TV network, understand that the largest Latino/Hispanic segment -young and bilingual- want relevance and quality in media?
The emerging young Latinos/Hispanics have been complaining about the lack of quality of programming at Spanish-language TV networks and that the English-language networks neither represents them nor includes them.
Mari D. González
According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center 11 percent of the nation’s 16 million Hispanic children are first generation or foreign-born; 52 percent are second generation or U.S.-born “sons or daughters of at least one foreign-born parent;” 37 percent are third generation or higher “meaning they’re U.S.-born children of U.S.-born parents. 1
What does this mean for Spanish-language vs. English-language media and advertising?
That none of the two are reaching the largest bulk of Latinos/Hispanics -second-generation, bilingual ones.
Who is addressing this trend best?
Spanglish music-themed programming such as MTV3s and Mund2 and Hispanic/Latino oriented magazines are targeting this emerging group; not Univision or Telemundo and definitely not CNN, FOX, Target, or Amazon who have lately alienated Latinos with racially charged programming and/or products.
By infusing Latin elements -words, phrases, music, colors- into to their English-language content and including content that is relevant to this socio-cultural group such as positive news about Latinos/Hispanics and against-the-common-negative-stereotype stories (Gonzalez, M.D., 2009) companies, marketers, and even politicians, have won and will continue to win over Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S.
Let’s begin to feature Juan Martin del Potro, number-one tennis player; Lhasa de Sela, Mexican-American signer of Spanish, French and English; Alondra de la Parra, 27 year-old classical maestra; Lorena Ochoa, number-one female golfer; or the all-American rock band from Texas, Girl in a Comma whose members are Latinos/Hispanics.
With 48 million Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. and in states like California in the threshold of becoming more than 50 percent of their total population, and when “overall, Hispanics increased purchasing ‘deals’ by 16 percent, outpacing non-Hispanics shoppers,”2 news that Latino lives are about shooting, selling drugs, or school dropouts should be on the brink of getting too old.
1 Hispanic Magazine, 2009 October/November edition.
2 Hispanics and the New Economic Reality consumer report.
Contribución de Aurelia Fierros
Mi recopilación informativa y reflexión sobre el tema se basa más en un principio empírico y en la observación directa/periodística del fenómeno al que hoy llamamos Spanglish. No obstante, coincido con el resultado de tu estudio formal en que, sí hay una particularidad en la utilización del Spanglish por parte de la primera, segunda y hasta tercera generación de hijos de inmigrantes hispanos, cuando mezclan los idiomas que nos ocupan (inglés y español) para dar origen al híbrido que aquí tratamos de explicar. Es definitivamente distinto al utilizado -por ejemplo- por los pachucos en los años 40s y 50s.
Las palabras expresadas aquí, http://www.hispanicla.com/archive/espanol-y-spanglish/ son sólo un muestrario finito aunque se entiende que el vocabulario del Spanglish no lo es tanto, en el sentido de que -de nuevo, por ejemplo- muchos anglicismos son aceptados hoy en día como incorporaciones formales a otros lenguajes, incluido el español. El caso más explícito tal vez sea el de los vocablos de la nueva tecnología, los que día a día se incrementan y gracias al internet, un amplio público y mayormente los jóvenes, los adoptan con gran facilidad.
Por otro lado, la cuestión de las lenguas indígenas con relación al español y los inmigrantes, es otra que representa un reto no sólo en EE.UU. sino también en nuestros propios países latinoamericanos. Me encanta saber que hay quienes se apasionan en el tema al grado de enfocar sus estudios académicos a disciplinas relacionadas. El tema no tiene fin y es casi adictivo pero será siempre enriquecedor recibir sus comentarios.