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Translation Hangover

How many ways are there to translate a word from one language to another? Sometimes it’s as simple as translating Dora the Explorer’s "¡vámonos!" (let’s go), but in Aberdeen’s Multi-Language Department, often times it’s a bit more complex than that.

I regularly work with Spanish translations from very competent people, and although these translations are already great, my job is to make them better.  When reading them, it seems that I’m always faced with the same challenge: How do I make certain words neutral enough so that most Spanish-speaking people will understand them?  The Spanish language is spoken in 20 different countries worldwide, making the task of choosing one single word very challenging.

A word that I came up with a couple of weeks ago was the translation for “hangover.” It was originally translated as “enguayabado.” When I first read this I was clueless as to what it meant. I had never heard this term before. It turns out that it’s pretty popular in South America. My supervisor, who lives in Spain, mentioned they use the word “resaca,” which I wasn’t familiar with either. Growing up in Mexico, I always heard people use the word “cruda” when talking about a hangover, so obviously I was leaning towards using that term.

Here at Aberdeen, every challenge is thoroughly analyzed before making a decision, and that’s why, after taking in consideration the audience that was going to be reading the subtitles, we decided to go with “cruda (resaca)”. Luckily we had enough time and space in the subtitles to use both terms!

Translation is definitely an art. Now let’s see how artistic I can be at translating this blog! Spanish version.