When National Registry of Food Safety Professionals has exams that require translation into other languages are, the exams are sent to a translation company that employs native speakers of each target language as translators and editors. After they are translated, the translations are audited and proofed for correctness and adherence to National Registry’s style guide before the forms are finalized for distribution.

At all times the questions in the item bank are monitored for consistency, and all candidate comments about translation issues are promptly addressed.

If a translation error is discovered, the item and the item bank are updated accordingly.

Producing a Spanish Exam

It is virtually impossible to produce a Spanish exam that will be perfect for all target languages, especially Spanish, due to the various dialects existing within the language group (i.e. Mexican, Cuban, Colombian, Peruvian, etc.).

There is a process called localization that can be used to translate text adapting it to a specific region or target group. That process has not been made available for Spanish translations because of the cost associated with it.

This difference of interpretation for the diverse dialects is not easy to explain.

For illustration purposes, the translation company has provided an example of the differences in dialects for the word “straw” which is a common word in the food industry.

Straw
  • In Spain, they would say "pajita" for "straw," a choice that would be derided pretty much anywhere else in the Spanish-speaking word for its sexual overtones (with "paja" referring to the male sexual organ).
  • In Mexico, they would definitely say "popote", a word that is absolutely unheard of anywhere else (except for Guatemala/CA, with a different meaning).
  • In Colombia an Venezuela, the word of choice would be "pitillo" (which would mean "cigarette" in both Mexico and Spain).
  • In Argentina, "sorbete" is common (and "pajita" is used in some provinces).
  • Guatemala and most of Central America prefer "pajilla" (which would have the same sexual overtones as "pajita" elsewhere), whereas in those countries "popote" means "pile of excrement", and "sorbete" is an "ice cream cone".
  • In Cuba, apparently, the word for "drinking straw" would be "absorbente".

The word “straw” is an excellent example because not only do you have different expressions for "drinking straw" in Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Colombia, but the words used in the other regional varieties of Spanish actually would at best be either confusing, nonsensical, or grossly misleading and, at worst, be insulting or sexually offensive. To give you an example, in Mexico, "pajita" and "pajilla" have definite sexual overtones in Mexican Spanish, and "pitillo" would mean a "smoke" in Mexico, thereby referring to something entirely unrelated. "Absorbente" would not be likely to be associated with a "drinking straw" in Mexico at all and probably cause people to scratch their head about the intended meaning, and "sorbete" would be inferred to refer to "ice cream."

Since National Registry has decided against localization in order to avoid passing the added expense to its clients, the Spanish forms are translated into Modern Spanish with a target population of Hispanics within the United States.

While this is not a perfect solution, it is the most neutral solution that enables National Registry to provide translated Spanish forms without charging an exorbitant fee for those translated exams.

National Registry is sensitive to the issues and problems this causes for Spanish speakers familiar who are only familiar with a particular dialect.

All Spanish exams are provided with the English language version of the item next to it to help clarify words that may be problematic for some Spanish speakers. However, National Registry understands this may not be enough. National Registry continues to explore options that may help.

These options include the development of and use of a glossary of problematic words identified by candidates that can be maintained by the translation company to ensure consistency when the forms are translated into the target languages that have been identified as needing improvement.

Your satisfaction is our goal and we'll keep you informed of changes as they are made.

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