Not to be Underestimated: The Global Rise of the Spanish Language

The increasing interconnectedness of the world is undeniable, both socially and economically. The internet now permeates every corner of the globe and social media connects people from all walks of life, cutting across linguistic and geographical boundaries with ease. Online news sources from virtually every country are accessible in multiple languages and viral videos know no bounds. In short, we can now easily reach audiences in corners of the world we couldn’t have previously conceived of just 20 years ago and we can do it in seconds.

This means that more than ever businesses are having to tailor their marketing materials, value statements and goals in order for their message to reach a culturally, socially and of course linguistically diverse audience. For both international businesses and in particular companies based out of the USA, being able to communicate to potential customers in Spanish is an asset that cannot be overlooked.

Just how important is it to consider Spanish language when conducting business? Here are some of the points we will discuss:

  • Domestically: Today there are more Spanish speakers in the USA than in Spain, and they have significant economic buying power.
  • Internationally: Currently, Spanish is the second most spoken language worldwide and the fastest growing language in the American market.
  • Economically: Not only are Spanish speakers in the USA quickly becoming an economic powerhouse, but many of today’s international emerging markets are Spanish speaking.

The Rise of the Spanish Language in the USA

Even right here at home in the USA, the importance of catering to a bilingual audience should not be undervalued. In fact, there are more Spanish-speakers currently in the USA than in Spain, totaling a whopping 52.6 million. To put this into perspective, this means that one out of every 6 people currently residing in the USA is a Spanish-speaker and these figures don’t even include the estimated 9.7 million additional undocumented Spanish-speakers thought to be also residing in the USA. This makes the domestic Spanish-speaking market incredibly important. In fact, the USA has the second highest population of Spanish-speakers in the world, second only to Mexico’s vast population of 122 million. In terms of investing for the future, the trajectory of the Hispanic population is forecasted to increase substantially, with some estimating up to a 150% increase by 2050. An increase such as this would lead the US Hispanic population to surpass even Mexico in number of Spanish-speakers, becoming host to the largest Hispanic population in the world.

Simply being able to speak Spanish aside, the American Hispanic population also forms an incredibly important and powerful segment of the economy and should not be overlooked in this regard. According to the consumer analyst company Nielsen, Hispanics in the USA alone currently have spending power of about 1.4 trillion dollars.

The importance of including all American residents in long term strategic business plans, marketing initiatives and communication strategies can not be underestimated. However, in order to reach this important and populous Hispanic audience, it is important that you speak their language. Investing in professional Spanish translation and copyediting is key, as translation is far more complex than swapping around English and Spanish words. It is important to understand the unique cultural, linguistic and social situations experienced by Spanish-speakers that exist globally, but also within the English speaking cultural and linguistic framework of the USA. To reach out successfully to the Hispanic segment of the population, the first step is to hire a professional translator who can not only translate materials into Spanish, but who can ensure the intended message of your materials is preserved while simultaneously being adapted to account for linguistic or cultural subtleties.

Spanish Language on a Global Scale

The importance of the Spanish language is not limited to the USA. In fact, globally, it is the second most spoken language worldwide, bested only by Chinese- although Spanish is far more widely spoken geographically speaking. There are absolutely more Spanish-speakers worldwide than English speakers, about 8 million more so.  In a 2015 study conducted by the Instituto Cervantes, a non-profit devoted to the Spanish language based of out Spain, there are a total of 470 million native Spanish-speakers worldwide. Include the number of people who have Spanish as a second language and this number jumps to 559 million. Spanish is also one of the most popular languages learned as a second language. Cervantes estimates there are an additional 21 million individuals currently studying Spanish. The same study also notes that while Chinese, Spanish and English are currently the top three most widely spoken languages, both English and Chinese are on the decrease while Spanish is on the rise. This suggests that investing in Spanish communications is a wise long-term investment.

Economically speaking, Spanish-speakers are also a rising powerhouse. There are many emerging markets in Latin America, in particular Chile, Panama and Costa Rica who are seeing a marked increase in the size and stability of the middle class. Additionally, Mexico is now part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and according to Forbes, 2 out of the top 5 richest people in the world are Spanish-speakers.

Tailoring your message to take into account millions of Spanish-speakers has the potential to be economically advantageous. According to the Instituto Cervantes, economically speaking, the 21 countries who list Spanish as one of their official languages tend to prefer economic trade with linguistically similar trading partners. While the USA does not include itself as one of the 21 countries with Spanish as its official language, it is in a unique position in the world to capitalize on this trend. With so many Spanish-speakers living in the USA, there is no reason why American businesses should not be able to capitalize on this trend.

Our Spanish with Style team is dedicated to ensuring the continuity of your message while simultaneously adapting it to your target Spanish speaking audience. The economic opportunities in the Spanish speaking world, both inside and outside the USA, are tremendous. All it takes is to reach out to the global Spanish-speaking community is to speak their language. When considering your translation needs, hiring Spanish language experts should be top priority. Not only are they trained in Spanish translation and copy editing, but they understand the vast geographic, cultural and linguistic differences that exist between both English and Spanish-speakers, but also among the diverse Spanish-speaking communities worldwide.