Spanish accent in voiceovers. With 400 million speakers, Spanish is the second most used language in the world, only behind Chinese. It’s an official language in 20 countries: 18 in America, 1 in Europe and 1 in Africa.
What countries are those?
Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Equatorial Guinea.
Related Article: The 10 Most Spoken Languages in the World.
From the collaboration between the Spanish Language Royal Academy (RAE) and the Spanish Language Academies Association (ASALE) the Spanish Language dictionary was born, as well as the orthography and the Doubts Panhispanic Dictionary. In spite of that, there are many differences in accents and terms depending upon the Spanish speaking country.
We have a very illustrative example in the words “computador / computadora” and “ordenador”. They all are synonymous, but the first two are used in Latin American countries, and the second one, only in Spain.
Accent-wise, maybe the most “illustrious” difference between European and Latin Spanish is the pronunciation of letter “z”. The “z” sound in Spanish is as in the first sound of the word “think”, whereas in Latin American, the letter is pronounced exactly the same as the letter “s” in any English or Spanish word.
Each Spanish speaking country has singularities, variations, different pronunciations, rules and accents. That’s why, for advertising, dubbing and voiceover, neutral Spanish was created.
When working on a Spanish project there are some considerations that you need to take into account:
1. Neutral Spanish accent must NEVER be used in Spain. Of course, the message would be understood, but it would feel as if you were not addressing Spanish people, but a Latin American audience instead.
2. Never use a Latin American Translation for Spain and viceversa. A script written with Latin American vocabulary and constructions will never work in Spain, not even voiced by a Spanish talent. And the same happens the other way around.
3. Spain-born voice talents can’t emulate neutral Spanish accent. They will always have problems when trying to achieve it. Because of the differences between both accents, they will always end up making some mistakes. Which brings us to our next point:
4. Neutral Spanish is not an accent, but a skill. Each person speaks in his/her native accent without realizing it. There’s no effort in that. But neutral Spanish is not a native accent, it requires a lot of work and practice over a number of years.
What’s the most neutral Spanish accent? And the sexiest one?
Colombian Spanish accent is usually considered the one that’s closest to neutral Spanish, and the Argentinian one is said to be the sexiest. However, this are just myths. What matter is that whatever the variety of Spanish you speak, you are understood by every Spanish speaker, but when it comes to business, you must first study your target market to choose the correct Spanish accent.
In our voice talent agency, you can find voice talents in the three aforementioned Spanish accents:
Related Article: The Most Uncommon European Languages in voiceover.