Anglicisms in Spanish Translation

In the previous part we have examined the phenomenon known as Anglicism, the reasons for its rise, and the way it is affecting the translation of English terms. In this unit we will enumerate the various possible categories of Anglicism, the forms they take in Spanish, and, most importantly, the attitude of the translator towards the Spanish translation of Anglicism.

Reasons for Anglicisms

Anglicisms are capable of affecting all the categories of a language, namely, its lexis, its syntax, its pronunciation, its morphology, its orthography, etc. A sentence like ‘su film acaba de salir´ is a perfect example of Anglicism corrupting the Spanish lexis. The Spanish sentence is a literal translation of the English ‘his film is just out´, which would have been best, translated as ‘su película se acaba de estrenar´. Similarly, ‘he played a key role´ is literally translated into ‘jugó un rol llave´ while the appropriate Spanish translation could only be ‘desempeñó un papel fundamental´.

Syntactical anglicisms are the unfortunate result of introducing English grammatical structures into Spanish. The reader may feel that there is something unnatural in the text but he or she may not be able to identify it without a detailed grammatical analysis. The following are some examples of syntactical anglicisms: pluralizing proper names and decades as in ‘Los Johnsones´ and ‘los sesentas´; overusing possessive pronouns with parts of the body as in ‘me duele mi brazo´ instead of ‘me duele el brazo´. Using adverbs incorrectly, for example, giving the Spanish translation of ‘he organized it rapidly and efficiently´ as ‘lo organizó rápidamente y eficazmente´ instead of ‘lo organizo rápida y eficazmente´.

Overusing Anglicisms

There are some forms of Spanish that are neither incorrect nor ungrammatical, but overuse of which can be categorized as Anglicism. To this category belongs the excessive use of the passive voice and the personal pronoun in Spanish translation. Conceptual anglicisms occur when an idea or a concept has a meaning in the target culture, which is different from the meaning it has in the source text. For example, U.S. citizens would interpret the ‘Paris Peace Treaty´ as the 1783 treaty, which ended the U.S. Revolutionary War, but the Spaniards would interpret it as the treaty that ended the Spanish-Americans war of 1898. Other important forms of Anglicism in the Spanish language or in Spanish translation include the misuse of prepositions, improper word order, incorrect use of the Spanish ‘que´ under the influence of ‘that´, unnatural conciseness, wrong verb forms or their improper use, etc.

Suggestions For The Spanish Translator

We will conclude with some suggestions for the Spanish translator, and what he or she can do when confronted with anglicisms. In the first place, the translator should be able to recognize an Anglicism when it occurs. In the second place, he or she should avoid using English words and English ways of speech and English grammar in the Spanish translation. One way of achieving that would be to shun literal translation in favor of true meaning translation. Another way of achieving it would be to ensure that a translator translates only into his or her mother tongue.


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