Neutral Spanish: advantages and disadvantages of a language mode
A possible solution for translating a certain product into Spanish is what is called neutral Spanish, given that this is a language model created by the media for marketing purposes. Its purpose is to escape the idioms particular to any Hispanic country in order to be able to be understood by all Spanish speakers. Unlike standard Spanish, also artificially created as a norm by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) and the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE), neutral Spanish is an unlocalized variant; that is, it lacks the regionalisms that each country, with its own regulatory bodies, recognizes for the model of its language.
This model, whose practices include translation and dubbing, is currently divided into four variants of Spanish: Iberian Spanish (European) for Spain, whose unique form is the most isolated from the rest of the variants used as standards in Latin America and, therefore, it is not considered the norm there; Mexican, for Mexico, United States, Canada and Central America; Rio Platense Spanish, for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay; and another variant that covers the rest of the countries of Latin America.
With regard to the previous division, it should be clarified that, except for Iberian Spanish, the rest of the other variants are accessible for all of the speakers of Latin America. In fact, as is often the case, many times there is a mixture of these dialects in the media, especially in televised dubbing, where, for example, they can be found in the same television channel of a country. Let's use Chile as an example, where an Argentinian or Mexican soap opera might be followed by an episode of The Simpsons, in which the dubbing--in the Mexican dialect--is the only variant used for all of Latin America.
As for translation practices, the model of neutral Spanish is useful for creating descriptive and informative texts, such as instruction manuals, medical prospectuses or the description of the composition of products on their labels, packaging or wrapping. However, and despite offering an efficient solution for problems related to marketing and logistics, this model is not recommended for translations related to artistic activities (literary translations, film subtitles and video games, or advertising) given that the speaker recognizes it as what it really is: an artificial and foreign language that presents difficulties when it comes to, among other things, conveying a verbal play on words, metaphors, irony and double meanings.
Below, we offer a summary of the morphosyntactic, semantic and lexical characteristics of neutral Spanish. Click here.