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linguistic validation spanish medical translation

Some thoughts on potential Linguistic Validation issues with US- Spanish (Part II of III)

linguistic validation spanish medical translation

By Henry Cifuentes

A brief list of possible challenges posed by US-Spanish


Some words have different meanings in the different origin countries that contribute to the melting-pot Spanish spoken in the US.

Some words, terms or idioms are perfectly OK in one country but sound awfully offending in another.

Anglophonic influence leads to the use of false cognates; one simple example would be candidly or inadvertently changing the meaning of the Spanish word “librería” from “bookstore” (its actual meaning) to “library” (the false cognate).

For cognitive debriefing purposes, cultural/geographic clustering is a major issue when recruiting a group of people representing a true swath of the US-Spanish spectrum; this applies in particular to face-to-face interviews, because cultural clustering occurs at a state or even at a multi-state level. We can see that the Spanish in states like California, Nevada, Arizona and all the way to Texas is predominantly Mexican-based and accented; in the East Coast, Florida’s Cuban population has produced the HoL culture and language style at the top of the linguistic food chain in that state; Conversely, Puerto Rican and Dominican Spanish are more popular in New York City.

A basic subject panel of respondents attempting to represent the US-Spanish spectrum should include at least two individuals of Mexican origin and one person from each of the following regional backgrounds: Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Thus, often enough, the efforts and financial costs to recruit US-Spanish speaking patients for face-to-face interviews increases in direct relation to how rare the condition is since patients may be spread across an enormous geographical area.

The NEXT POST will cover some practical and more detailed examples of these challenges.


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