Numbers. They count!


  • Translating is mostly about words, but sometimes numbers come into play, and they need to be translated too sometimes!

  • Numbers in Translation In the US, the thousands separator is a comma and the decimal separator is a dot. In Spain and most Latin American countries, it's the other way around: US: 123,456.00 Spain and Latin America: 123.456,00 Mexico and Costa Rica are the exceptions I can think of: they express numbers the same as in the US.

  • 15 days = 2 weeks. In Spanish, it is common to say "en 15 días" (in 15 days" instead of in 14 days) actually we don't commonly say 14 days in English to mean 2 weeks. Spanish also has the word "quincena" which means fortnight. Very important to be translated as 2 weeks, otherwise you're stuck with an extra day!

  • A billion or a 1 followed by 9 zeros in the US is mil millones (one thousand million) in Spanish. There is actually a classier word out there: millardo, but I've never heard anyone actually use it. Un billón is a million millions or a 1 followed by 12 zeros. To add more confusion, I have heard people translate a US billion as billon.

  • Unlike in the US where dates are written mm/dd/yy, in Spain and Latin America, they are written dd/mm/yy. Sometimes Latinos in the US will observe the US date system when writing. The translator must be attentive and look for clues when determining which date system is being followed. Obviously if you see 29/10/88, then you know that the person used dd/mm/yy.

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