How Many Varieties and Dialects of Spanish Are There in The World?

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Over 500 million people speak Spanish as their native language and that number is growing.
Gabriel Polycarpo
15 min

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Over 500 million people speak Spanish as their native language and that number is growing.

Spanish is the official language of 20 countries and one territory, namely: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico (a territory of the United States). Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In addition, millions of individuals speak Spanish as a second language. Because of its relevance, Spanish is commonly taught in schools and universities worldwide. According to the 2022 Duolingo Report, Spanish is still one of the most popular languages to study among language learners, contributing to the growing number of non-native speakers.

Varieties and Dialects

Spanish features a huge range of varieties and dialects. But it would be very difficult – if not impossible – to determine how many “versions” of Spanish are spoken across the globe. In order to categorize varieties and dialects, it would be necessary to adopt specific linguistic criteria, and these could, still, fail to provide definite answers.

It is important to mention even though both “variety” and “dialect” are terms used to describe the different regional patterns of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation that exist within a language, they are not synonymous with one another.

A linguistic variety – isolect, or lect – is a form of a language that is used by a specific group of speakers. A variety can be defined by regional, social, cultural, ethnic and other cultural aspects. For example, Peninsular Spanish is a linguistic variety that comprises several dialects, such as Andalusian Spanish.

A dialect is a more specific term and refers to a particular form of a language spoken by a group within a geographical location or social region. Dialects vary in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, and distinctive features that set them apart. A dialect is a subset of a variety.

Different Varieties and Dialects of Spanish Around the World

Traditionally, Spanish is split into two main varieties, namely Peninsular Spanish and Latin American Spanish, and an indefinite number of dialects. This division is not official and is open to debate. Here are some of these varieties and dialects:

  1. Peninsular Spanish: This is the variety of Spanish spoken in Spain. It includes several regional dialects such as Andalusian, Castilian, Catalan, Galician, and Basque.
  2. Latin American Spanish: This encompasses the varieties of Spanish spoken in Latin America. Latin American Spanish includes numerous regional dialects, influenced by indigenous languages and varying historical developments. Some prominent dialects within Latin America include Mexican Spanish, Colombian Spanish, Argentine Spanish, Peruvian Spanish, Chilean Spanish, and many more.
  3. Caribbean Spanish: This refers to the Spanish spoken in the Caribbean region, including countries like Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other islands. Caribbean Spanish has its own unique features and influences, including Afro-Caribbean elements.
  4. Rioplatense Spanish: This is a dialect spoken primarily in the region of Rio de la Plata, which includes Argentina and Uruguay.
  5. Canary Islands Spanish: This is a variety of Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands, which are an autonomous community of Spain. 
  6. Equatorial Guinea Spanish: Equatorial Guinea is the only African country where Spanish is an official language. The Spanish spoken there has its own features influenced by local languages.

These are just a few examples. There are many more regional varieties and dialects of Spanish worldwide. Because of the local cultural and historical influences on the language, each dialect has its own distinctive characteristics in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

Differences in Vocabulary

Just as it happens across the different varieties of English, Spanish also presents variances in vocabulary depending on the country (or state, city or even neighborhood). Let’s see some examples:


  • camiseta (Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Mexico); 
  • camisola (Nicaragua);
  • chemas (Costa Rica); 
  • franela (Venezuela);
  • playera (Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico); 
  • polo (Peru);
  • polera (Bolivia, Chile);
  • remera (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay). 


  • chupete (Argentina)
  • chupa/chupo (Colombia)
  • chupeta (Costa Rica)
  • tete (Cuba)
  • chupón (Ecuador, Mexico)
  • pepe (Guatemala)
  • bobo (Dominican Republic)

Spanish vs. Castilian

The words “español” and “castellano” are frequently used in Spanish to refer to the same language. The Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas, a language guide published by the Spanish Royal Academy, that aims to to provide answers to the most common doubts related to the Spanish language, whether they are of a phonographic (pronunciation, accentuation, punctuation, spelling, etc.), morphological (plurals, feminine, derivatives, conjugation forms, etc.), syntactical or semantical nature, explains:

“To designate the common language of Spain and many nations of America, which is also spoken in other parts of the world, both terms ‘Castilian’ and ‘Spanish’ are valid. The controversy about which of these denominations is more appropriate is now overcome. The term ‘Spanish’ is more recommendable because it lacks ambiguity and is the denomination used internationally (‘Spanish’, ‘espagnol’, ‘Spanisch’, ‘spagnolo’, etc.). Although also synonymous with ‘Spanish’, it is preferable to reserve the term ‘Castilian’ to refer to the Romance dialect born in the Kingdom of Castile during the Middle Ages, or to the dialect of Spanish currently spoken in this region. In Spain, the name Castilian is also used when referring to the common language of the State in relation to the other co-official languages in their respective autonomous territories, such as Catalan, Galician or Basque.” (free translation).

The Kingdom of Castile was a powerful kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. The language used in Castile at the time was often referred to as “romance”, a term that derives from the Vulgar Latin adverb romanice, meaning “in Roman”, that is, in Latin vernacular. “Romance” later became “romance castellano”, or simply “castellano”.

On the other hand, the word “español” (“Spanish” in Spanish), according to the Royal Spanish Academy, comes from the Occitan word “espaignol”, which itself is derived from the Vulgar Latin term  “hispaniolus”. “Hispania” was the Roman designation for the Iberian Peninsula during the Ancient Roman times.

External Influences on the Spanish Language

Borrowed Words 

Throughout the centuries, Spanish borrowed words from various languages, including Latin, Arabic, English, French, as well as indigenous languages of the Americas.

Words of Arabic Origin

During the period of Moorish rule in Spain (from the early 8th century until the late 15th century),  Arabic had a significant influence on the Spanish language. Many words of Arabic origin entered the Spanish language, including:

  • azúcar (sugar);
  • algodón (cotton);
  • naranja (orange);
  • sandía (watermelon);
  • zanahoria (carrot).

Words of Indigenous Origin

Of all the indigenous languages, those that had the greatest influence on Spanish were Guarani, Nahuatl (Aztec, or Mexicano), Mayan, Quechua and Aymara.


  • aguacate (avocado).


  • yacaré (caiman/cayman, alligator) (used in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay).


  • cóndor (condor);
  • palta (avocado) (used in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay).

“Scramble for Africa”

Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Africa saw a rapid colonization by European powers. This process of expansion into Africa, which started with the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, became known as “Scramble for Africa” (“The Partition of Africa”, or “The Conquest of Africa”). As a result, many European languages were incorporated into the colonized areas, and are spoken in Africa to this day, such as French, Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Spanish is spoken in several countries in Africa. These include Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea (formerly known as Spanish Guinea). The latter is the only African country to hold Spanish as an official language.

Equatoguinean Spanish 

Spain acquired Equatorial Guinea from Portugal in 1778 in exchange for American territories, along with the islands of Bioko (previously Fernando Pó). The colonization process lasted until the end of the 19th century, and on October 12, 1968, Equatorial Guinea attained independence.

Spanish is both the national and official language of Equatorial Guinea and is spoken by the majority of the population in the country. French and Portuguese are also official languages of the nation. The country also speaks fifteen other languages, including Fang, Bube, Pidgin English and others. 
Equatoguinean Spanish is regulated by the Equatoguinean Academy of the Spanish Language, an association of academics and experts on the use of the Spanish language in Equatorial Guinea, established in 2013. Since 2016, Equatorial Guinea has been a member of the Association of Spanish Language Academies.

Neutral Spanish

Translating to Spanish can be tricky and challenging for translators. This is because such a task involves not only translating words, but also adapting the text so it resonates with a certain audience. This includes adapting tone, style, level of formality plus the use of regional vocabulary, which often results in a translation that is not universally accepted.

On the other hand, a client may need a translation that is suitable for mass marketing, sometimes targeting large areas such as an entire continent so as to reach as many Hispanic consumers as possible. In this case, something called neutral Spanish is used. 

Neutral Spanish refers to an attempt to use only words and expressions that are universally understood and accepted across the Spanish-speaking community, avoiding any regionalisms. If the target, for example, is Latin America, a neutral form of Latin American Spanish is used.

I Want to Learn Spanish. Which Spanish Dialect Should I Learn?

There is no such thing as a “standard” Spanish, only dialects. Even a “standard variety” is, by nature, a dialect. And each dialect will have its own peculiarities, such as distinctive pronunciation, intonation patterns, rhythm, vocabulary, etc.
Broadly speaking, there are two major varieties of Spanish, namely Peninsular (or European) Spanish and Latin American Spanish, with dozens of dialects within each variety. Deciding on one of these two major varieties before electing a dialect could be a good starting point.

In the end, deciding on a dialect will depend solely on your personal preferences, cultures you relate to, and the countries you might be planning to visit. 

Spanish is truly a rich and fascinating language. If you are not sure where to start your journey with this incredible language, you can try YouTube videos or experiment with Duolingo.

Final Words

If you need your document translated into Spanish or are thinking about having your website localized, Bureau Works offers superior Spanish translation services, prioritizing quality and accuracy, ensuring your translation resonates with your Hispanic customers. 

Collaborative translation is a powerful tool for your business if you’re looking to expand to new global markets. By coordinating a team of professionals who work together in real-time, you can quickly deliver high quality translations that resonate with local audiences.

But what if you don't know how to synchronize a large team's efforts? Or are you‌ struggling to find the right software for a well-coordinated translation process? Well, look no further! In this guide, you'll learn all the know-how's of collaborative translation to bring your brand to global audiences.


  1. What is collaborative translation?
  2. Why seamless translation collaboration is important
  3. Best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

What is collaborative translation?

Collaborative translation is when multiple people simultaneously work together to translate content. A collaborative translation process often makes use of specialized tools and software to make sure the translation is quick, accurate, and consistent.

  • Example: Let's say you're a B2B SaaS company looking to translate your marketing materials into a new language to connect with potential clients abroad. Use collaborative translation to bring together translators, developers, and other specialists to translate content into many languages at once.

Your team can use a collaborative translation platform like Redokun to work on projects simultaneously. A coordinated workflow will make sure that your translations use the same terminology and style, improving the quality of the translated product for your target audiences.

Collaborative Translation vs. Crowdsourcing

People often confuse collaborative translation with crowdsourcing and think the two are the same. However, these approaches to translation are different.

Crowdsourcing is when a large group of people contributes translations, often through an open call or invitation by a company or author. Brands can turn to crowdsourcing, community translation, or volunteer translation when they are looking to reduce costs and accelerate the process, especially for large multi-language projects.

In crowdsourced translations, the contributors can be volunteer translators, subject matter experts, or just anonymous individuals online. In other words, you may not know who's worked on the translation and what their qualifications are. It makes crowdsourcing distinct from collaborative translation, where the team would be an established group of professionals you've selected

Why seamless translation collaboration is important

As a busy B2B/B2C marketing manager or project manager, you might ask yourself: Isn't the "divide and conquer" a better strategy when working on a translation or localization project? It seems logical that each project team member, including translators, designers, and editors, works on their tasks separately and step by step.

However, collaborative translation can help your team reap many benefits compared to a traditional approach to translation projects:

Reasons why seamless translation collaboration is important
  • Produce high-quality translations consistently. When your whole team works on a translation project simultaneously on one platform, it's easier to stay in context and keep track of the translation accuracy for every target language. On top of that, your team can conduct agile QA throughout the project cycle.
  • Faster turnaround times. By working together, your team can complete projects faster and more efficiently. Centralization saves a lot of time at every stage of translation. And since your team can work on more than one translation at a time, you can publish your translated content in several new markets at once.
  • Reduced costs. You get to improve efficiency while working with a smaller team of translators. The smaller and more coordinated the team, the less the risk of costly translation errors. It means reduced translation costs and better project budget compliance.
  • Increased flexibility. Collaborative translation allows your team to produce translations into many languages at once and easily make changes to any project document. You can conveniently engage in a feedback loop and guarantee a continuous localization process.
  • Better communication. Collaborative translation effectively brings all members of your localization team together on one platform. It helps you make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals ‌and simplifies overall localization management.

Six best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

To be great at collaborative translation, you need to approach it strategically. Even if you've never used this approach before, you can follow the six steps below to build an efficient collaborative translation workflow. And if you're already familiar with this method, these practices will help you improve the way you collaborate on any translation projects.

Six best practices for collaborative translation for your global business success

1. Work out a detailed project plan

Before you start working on translations together, you need a clear-cut project plan. You should first identify the following items.

  • Project timeline: Define crucial deadlines, project milestones, and the overall project duration.
  • Translation volume and key deliverables: Calculate the general word count, and determine the workload for every language pair if you translate into multiple languages.
  • Project budget: Keep in mind possible added and hidden translation costs.
  • Project team: Define what kind of specialists you need: translators, editors, proofreaders, etc. Will you need to find external translators? Consider all your HR needs in advance.
  • Your approach to the translation process: How much do you want to rely on machine translation? At what point will you edit translated strings? Answer all these questions before you go on.
  • Quality assurance protocol: Establish an efficient QA procedure for all the language pairs you're working on.

It may sound like a handful but the more detailed the plan, the more streamlined the translations will be down the road. Besides, you can already use Redokun to boost this stage of the localization process!

Redokun is a translation management system you can use to automate, coordinate, and optimize your translation processes from content creation to publication.

Redokun simplifies your project planning. In particular, you can use the tool to:

  • Monitor your ongoing translations easily. Keep track of all of your translation files and projects across multiple languages in one space, and check their progress at a glance.
Redokun Document Detail Page
  • Meet deadlines with digest emails. Redokun will send you daily or weekly email digests to update you on the progress of translations. From there, you can initiate one-click reminders to your translators who are potentially falling behind schedule.
  • Making budget planning easier. Redokun has a transparent, scalable pricing structure that will cover exactly the volume of work your project needs.
Redokun is an easy-to-use tool that requires no onboarding. Your team can start using all the system’s features right away. During your project planning stage, you won’t need to factor in a lengthy training period to introduce team members to the tool.

2. Divide tasks and assign responsibilities the smart way

Good collaboration is impossible without a well-planned distribution and organization of roles and tasks. Ensure that every team member is on the same page and understands their respective responsibilities.

For example, the project managers should divide ‌translation tasks among translation team members according to their language proficiency, area of expertise, or subject matter knowledge.
  • On Redokun, you can invite translators to work on different language pairs and content types depending on their skills. All you need to do is enter the translator's email. The software will send them an email invitation and let you know once they've started translating the file.
  • You can also invite several translators to work on one document.
How to invite translators to Redokun

To maximize the efficiency of project management and task division, establish a clear structure of your workflow. Make sure all your pages, files, and folders are well organized and team members know where to find necessary resources for their respective tasks. A centralized, cloud-based storage for all your documents is a must.

  • Redokun is a cloud-based software that makes file management easy. You can create folders and customize permission settings for multiple users for better organization. No more need to look for spreadsheets and lost documents scattered around different digital locations.
  • Don't forget to make the most of the Reporting Dashboard. It shows you the status of the translation project and helps you see how users distribute tasks (for example, what methods they use to translate different content segments).
Redokun Dashboard with translation statistics

3. Enhance the collaborative translation process with clear communication

It's important to have open communication channels among all team members in your translation project, including internal and external translators. For a successful collaboration effort, you need a shared communication space to:

  • Conduct regular check-ins.
  • Discuss translation options and other aspects of the working process.
  • Update and adjust requirements and guidelines.
  • Maintain feedback loops.
It's up to you to choose between email, messengers, or tools like Google Drive or Slack to keep your collboarative operations flowing. However, using multiple channels for different aspects of the project can get messy. It's harder to manage your team and make sure all collaborators are up to date on the ongoing translation tasks.

You can avoid these potential problems by centralizing all your communications and project management. With translation software like Redokun, you can manage, translate, communicate, and collaborate — all in one place.

  • Translate content in context. Your translators or editors can use page previews in Web Editor to understand the context of the text while working on it.
  • Work together in real-time. Use Redokun as a full-scale collaborative translation platform. It enables real-time cooperation among your team members, improving efficiency and reducing communication errors.
  • Use comments, mentions, and notifications to exchange feedback quickly. Redokun's Web Editor is a convenient place to stay in touch and discuss your translation progress every step of the way.
Collaboration feature in Redokun
  • Create a hybrid workflow. Work with your in-house teams or external translators to suit different localization project formats and scalability needs.

4. Use machine translation and translation memory tools

Computer-assisted translation tools are a great addition to human translation. Machine translation (MT) helps your collaborators speed up the localization process by automating translation. Of course, it doesn't have the quality of a human professional translation — it’s more like a helping hand that's always there to facilitate the translation of complex phrases or new terms.

  • Redokun is integrated with two Machine Translation tools: Google Translate and DeepL. Translation suggestions by these two tools pop up right below where the translator should key in the translation, as shown here.

To enhance collaboration even further, consider using translation memory tools. They ensure consistency and save translation software users a lot of time.

Translation memory (TM) is a translation technology that stores previously translated sentences or phrases as segments and creates a unique database for your localization projects. You can reuse your translation to increase efficiency and consistency in ongoing and future translations.

With Redokun as your collaborative translation platform, you can leverage TM to:

  • Consistently translate any repeated word, phrase, or sentence across different language pairs and documents. It's especially important for translating technical terms, marketing slogans, CTAs, and other catchphrases. Translation memory helps you stay consistent in your marketing messaging.
  • Pre-translate your entire documents. Combine TM matches from your previous translations with Machine Translation to get a fully pre-translated document even before your team gets to work.
  • Manage your translation memory database. Import and customize your TM database to further improve translation quality and consistency.
”The speed of translation is quite impressive in that it doesn’t take [much time], maybe a couple of minutes when you translate from English to eight markets. I think that’s what I’m most impressed by.”

Read more about how Kenni and the marketing team at Rockfon increased their translation productivity by 70% using translation memories and other Redokun features

5. Use glossaries and style guides

Glossaries and style guides are valuable resources your team can use for reliable reference.

A glossary is a list of terms and their corresponding translations that are specific to a company or industry.

A style guide outlines the preferred tone, voice, and style for a company's marketing materials across markets and languages.

Your collaborators can refer to these resources when they’re not sure about a translation. For example is when they're deciding how to translate a company abbreviation, whether to the Oxford comma, or choosing the right tone to address customers, etc. No more ambiguity about linguistic, stylistic, and cultural aspects of your translations.

  • Use Redokun's glossary feature to create a glossary and style guide that outlines rules for spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, and tone specific to your project.
Redokun glossary feature preview

6. Continuously review and revise

A key benefit of a collaborative translation platform is the ability to review and revise translations in an agile and efficient manner. By involving multiple specialists in the process of editing and QA, you can guarantee accuracy and consistency in the translated content at every stage of the project.

To implement effective review and revision procedures in your collaborative translation projects, it is important to:

  • Plan for review and revision in advance. Identify who will be responsible, set the timeline, and use specific tools.
  • Consider involving in-country reviewers who are familiar with the local market and culture to ensure that the translations are accurate and appropriate for the target audience.
  • Perform regular QA checks. They should include consistency in terminology and formatting, and verify that the translations are free from grammatical errors and typos.
Pro-tip: Ever experienced the headache of having to update a translation that’s already 70% done when there is a last-minute change to the source document?

With Redokun’s revision feature, you don’t have to spend hours poring over Excel sheets and comparing files to spot the places where new words have been added or sentences have been changed. Just upload the latest document version and the system will identify new text that needs translating — saving your team’s time and effort while keeping previous translations intact.


Collaborative translation is an excellent approach if you want to improve the consistency of your translations, reduce costs, and establish a strong presence in global markets.

The key to seamless collaboration is a combination of careful planning, role distribution, agile QA, and smart use of translation software.

Make Redokun part of your collaborative translation efforts and enhance the pace of your global business growth‌. Start your 14-day free trial today and benefit from a quicker and more streamlined translation workflow.

Till next time,


Gabriel Polycarpo
As a translator and creative writer, Gabriel specializes in writing/translating for the technology and hospitality industries, having provided copywriting, localization and translation services for major companies such as Skillshare, Tech5, Hotelogix, Fidentech, Earn2Trade, UN agencies, Yarina Lodge, Hacienda La Ciénega and Fundación Pachamama, as well as production companies, independent producers and writers such as the BlinkBox Studio (Jordan), Studio Zut (São Paulo) and American author Bryan Cassady.
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