If you live in the United States, you’re probably no longer surprised to overhear Spanish being spoken. But just how widespread is the Spanish language in the world today? Over 250 million people speak Spanish as their first language and if we include those who speak Spanish as their second language, the total number of Spanish speakers is over 400 million.Within the United States, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language. According to the 2006 US Census, over 34 million people primarily speak Spanish at home.
Some more facts about Spanish usage in the United States:
- Over half of the country’s Spanish speakers live in California, Texas, and Florida.
- 19% percent of Hispanics in the U.S. speak only Spanish, 9% speak only English, 55% speak very limited English, and 17% are fully English-Spanish bilingual.
- Almost all second-generation Hispanic Americans speak English and 50% speak Spanish at home.
It’s clear that over generations in the U.S., Hispanics shift from being Spanish-dominant to English-dominant, as explained in a previous blog post. But it also remains clear that as immigrants continue to arrive in the United States with little to no English-language proficiency, there remains a need in the marketplace for products and services to be marketed in Spanish.
Text Expansion in Spanish Translations
If you’ve ever listened to a Spanish-English interpreter, you may have wondered why the interpreter’s translation into English of a Spanish statement seemed so much shorter and the converse so much longer. What you’ve witnessed is contraction and expansion when translating between two languages.
The same thing occurs in written translations, and can affect how your final document appears if you don’t take text expansion into account when creating your layout. When translating from English into Spanish, the text may expand up to 20% and when working into Spanish from English, the text can contract up to 15%.
If you need a document with a fixed template or page count translated, such as a brochure or newsletter, not taking text expansion or contraction into account can make your best graphic design attempts fall apart in translation.
Here are a couple of tips to avoid large expanses of white space or overcrowding in the final translated document:
- Use a larger font in English to account for text expansion into Spanish and a smaller font for Spanish to English translations.
- Have a translation-friendly template ready with reduced point size and decreased space between paragraphs.
- Avoid document styles such as nested lists, since what looks clean and crisp in English may look silly when translated into Spanish.