Tips on Latin American Localization

Category: Culture, Language

We hear a lot about localizing marketing content for U.S. Hispanic consumers — but what about the hundreds of millions of potential Spanish-speaking customers south of our borders? A few tips on marketing to Latin American Spanish-speaking audiences, from a localization professional via Mediapost:

  • All gestures are not “OK.” In Latin America, to give the OK sign they use a hand with index finger and middle finger raised, with the palm of the hand facing the person whose hand is used. But in the U.K. that same symbol is equivalent to giving someone the middle finger!
  • Dollar bill, y’all. Here in the U.S., the dollar sign ($) refers to U.S. dollars. But in Latin America, it could also refer to the local currency in other countries (e.g., Argentina). Also, just like Europe, numbers are written differently —  $2,335.47 in the U.S. vs. $2.335,47 in Latin American Spanish.

Of course, these are both items that your translation agency should know well! Don’t get caught off guard by having to catch these yourself, or misunderstand the scope of your project. When it comes to marketing, more has to change than simple document text translation.

Still, you can be optimistic about the final results:

“Marketing communications inherently seek to educate and to persuade. There’s no reason why marketers should experience any drop-off in either as they migrate their copy from English to Spanish — so long as they don’t lose their grasp of nuance or their respect for what can be crucial linguistic and cultural differences.”

Final trend tip: a lot of gaming companies are recognizing the untapped market for video games in Latin America and creating localized versions of their games. Sony, for example, announced that they will release fully localized blockbuster Playstation games for Latin America in 2011. If you’re a gaming company…something to consider!