Looking for English->Spanish Translation Pet Peeves

Happy Friday, dear readers! Today's your turn to share your English->Spanish pet peeves, and we know you have a lot of them (so do we). Here are the details: Judy is one of the spokespersons of the American Translators Association, and as such, she was invited to speak (via the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida) at the Excellence in Journalism conference, which is a joint event between the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. The event will take place in Orlando September 18 through 20.
Specifically, Judy has been asked to serve on a Spanish-language panel titled "Common Grammatical Errors in the Newsroom: Learn How to Identify and Correct Them." The panel will consist of a few journalists and one translator, and Judy has been compiling her own list of grammar pet peeves when it comes to newspapers and translation. Oftentimes, Spanish-language journalists in the U.S. don't have any formal educational background in Spanish, which can lead to less-than-stellar results in original Spanish-language writing. Other times, articles are poorly translated from English, and don't even get us started on Spanglish.

Since we love to share what our colleagues have to say, we figured we'd open this up to all who would like to share their pet peeves by leaving a comment below. If she has the chance to do so, Judy will mention that she polled her colleagues, and will try to mention some by name. Are you in? Please share! There are no rules or guidelines: go for it!


MChavez on August 30, 2015 at 7:46 PM said...

Precisely because some bilingual professionals in the U.S. who are journalists, translators, reviewers or who try to write for a living in Spanish, and who lack a solid foundation in the Spanish language produce some of the poorest Spanish writing in the hemisphere.

I don't think bad grammar or typos are the overall culprit. Focusing on this or that grammar mistake (easily solved with a reliable volume of Dudas del español by any reputable author) is the kind of trees that will prevent you from seeing the forest.

Unfortunately, two semesters of cramming Spanish writing advice and grammar exercises are too pitiful a solution or workaround for these unhappy would-be writers. The best solution is for them to forego their occupation and take a BA or master's in Spanish outside of the United States. Why overseas, you say? Glad you ask! First, it's cheaper. Second, these people would benefit from total immersion not only in language and culture but in how a university-level piece of Spanish writing is supposed to be done.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on August 31, 2015 at 11:42 AM said...

@MChavez: Thanks! The organizers of this conference want us to discuss specific examples, so I will continue to compile these. Your feedback is spot-on; thanks!

Jesse Tomlinson on August 31, 2015 at 1:05 PM said...


Y le dolía su cabeza (el cabeza) This seems more common with people who have contact with English speakers, they fall into saying "my head" when really in Spanish it's like "what other head?"

Cachar, parkear and rentar are a few of my pet peeves. I prefer using atrapar, estacionar and alquilar.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on August 31, 2015 at 1:31 PM said...

@Jesse: Many thanks, great stuff. I appreciate your help! Ah yes, eso de "su cabeza" es bien chistoso...

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

Subscribe by email:


Twitter update

Site Info

The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

Translation Times