Spanish reminds us of good music and endless summers coupled with the peacefulness of daily siestas and the taste of delicious meals from all the different countries it is spoken in. As the language with the second largest number of native speakers in the world, Spanish has a global influence on the development of many businesses, industries, and cultures.
However, the more popular the language, the richer it is in terms of vocabulary, dialects, accents, cultural contexts, etc. That makes it one of the most challenging languages to analyze content in, but also one of the most interesting ones. We virtually sat down with five of our Spanish analysts to learn about their experiences and find out how they overcome the challenges they face on a daily basis.
What it is like to be a Spanish analyst?
(Part of A Data Pro since early 2018)
Dimitar, more popularly known as Mitko among colleagues, has been with the company since early 2018. When asked how he started his journey with Spanish, he explained:
“I went to a language school in my hometown, Veliko Turnovo, where I studied Spanish and French. Prior to that, I picked up a little bit of the language from friends and relatives who lived in Spain. I’ve dabbled in other languages as well, but Spanish and English are the ones I stuck with.”
The challenges of working with Spanish, you ask?
“Spanish is a language, which is spoken in many countries, this makes it really interesting. This also causes some challenges. There are words and phrases that might mean one thing in Argentina and something different in Venezuela or Ecuador. It takes time to get used to the specific regional differences. Another big thing has been inside jokes and memes.”
Experience and deep-diving into the different cultures speaking the language is one of the ways Mitko overcomes these challenges:
“Working with social media, you constantly see people making fun of something in their country or region. At first, it was difficult, but the more time you spend reading such posts, the more you get used to them and start understanding the local culture. Sometimes doing a quick search for a specific person, topic, issue or word yields a lot of results. There are many resources online which provide explanations to slang terms, colloquialism, local sayings etc. Sites like Twitter and Facebook also really help with clearing up the fog. I have also asked friends of mine, who are native speakers, for help if unable to find an answer online.”
What do you like the most about your work in A Data Pro?
“Working with so many different people has been wonderful. We really get the opportunity to connect with people from different cities and even countries.
You constantly get to meet new people both online and offline.
Another great thing about the company is the chance to both work from an office and to work from home. There are not that many places that provide something like that.”
Mitko describes himself as an “avid cinephile” and during his free time:
“I watch a ton of movies and TV shows. Before the pandemic, I was a regular gym-goer, now I do whatever exercises I can manage at home or outside. I am also a collector of whiskies. Thanks to my work on a project in A Data Pro, I delved into the world of whiskey. For a while now, I have been collecting interesting bottles, expanding my taste and sharing the experience with my friends and family along the way.”
(Part of A Data Pro since 2011)
Ralitsa has a longer bond with A Data Pro. She first started working for the company in 2011 and in 2016, she left for Ibiza where she pursued a music career as a saxophone player. She worked for four years as a musician in the Balearic and Canary Islands before coming back to A Data Pro in November 2020. She says:
“I am so glad I was welcomed again!”
Ralitsa’s story with Spanish started in high school:
“I studied Spanish at an English language high school as a second language, but my teacher was so demanding that we focused on Spanish more than anything else. I remember I was preparing for two years for the DELE exam but in the end, I did not go to the exam because it was on May 24th – the day of my prom! Well, if you ask me now I’m sorry about it, but I’m pretty sure every 18 years old would prefer the party. I love Spanish and Latin music and that helped me with the language as I like to know the lyrics of songs and they have lengthy ones! Of course, my most valuable experience was from my stay in Spain for a few years.”
What is the biggest challenge about working with Spanish?
“Legal terms, lawsuits and scandals! Latin America is full of “challenging” cases! I really “love” when some looong articles suggest something (fraud or corruption) but don’t actually tell me details and facts. It is hard to resume such cases. Besides, searches with Spanish names can take time as they normally have 4 names and there is not a strict rule on how to combine them. Moreover, let’s not forget how many countries speak Spanish! All these countries have their own peculiarities which we face every day.”
Ralitsa overcomes this challenge by:
“using different sources to confirm information, dictionaries for the legal terms, extra searches to make sure I don’t miss something. I have made my own document “Things to remember” where I put anything useful, so I can easily find it later. Of course, my dear colleagues are always here to help and offer a piece of advice. The good thing is that I’m learning new things every day!”
Ralitsa says that the thing she likes most about A Data Pro is that she:
“can work from everywhere!
My colleagues are cool and my job is definitely not tedious!”
Ralitsa’s biggest passion is music! “I have played the saxophone (and piano a little bit) in various bands and styles in Bulgaria and Spain. I love travelling and good food!”
(Part of ADP for almost 2 years)
Mariya says that she has always had an affinity towards languages. “English was my favourite subject at school and I also studied German. However, I did not want to continue with German at university because I wanted to start studying a completely new language. I have always thought that Spanish is interesting and beautiful which is why I chose it. I also wanted to continue studying English and to add something to the languages. Luckily, I found the perfect bachelor’s degree – English and Spanish Linguistics and Information Technologies.”
Like her colleagues, Mariya says that the biggest challenge of working with Spanish “is probably the large number of countries in which Spanish is the official language. There are plenty of different country-specific databases which we have to check every day and I found this confusing at the beginning.”
Experience helped her overcome this challenge: “I managed to quickly overcome this challenge through the experience I gained every day. After I got used to the specifics of all the different databases, the confusion was no more. Now, I even consider the large number of the countries I work with as a plus since I learn new things about them each day.”
Mariya combined multiple passions at A Data Pro. She says that her favourite part about working for the company is
“the colleagues, the non-corporate atmosphere, the possibility to work from home and the work itself.
I like researching, I like working with Spanish and I am grateful to A Data Pro for giving me the chance to be part of its due diligence team which combines my two favourite things.”
Tell us something interesting about yourself!
“I continue to discover new hobbies every year. For example, two years ago I learnt how to make jewellery from wire and beads. Last year, I decided to start painting. I have never been good at painting so I really wanted to learn. I began watching videos online and bought all the necessary materials. I have finished several paintings since then. They are not perfect but the painting process is so relaxing and is actually the best part of the experience. This year, I started a new project – DIY miniature houses. It teaches me to be more patient and it brings me great joy.”
(Part of ADP for almost a year)
When asked about how he got interested in Spanish, Milan says:
“Same as many people from Serbia, my first contact with this language was through Mexican telenovelas. However, my actual first close encounter with it was when I decided to go on an exchange programme to Spain that lasted for a year and where all the classes were in Spanish. It’s worth mentioning that at that point I barely knew any Spanish, but I took on that challenge anyway. After a wonderful, but stressful journey, I can definitely say that it paid off. :)”
Milan says that the most challenging part about working with Spanish is understanding all its variations:
“Spanish is spoken in various countries around the world and it can differ, sometimes significantly, depending on the region. The main challenge there is not only understanding the language variations and different words, but also cultural contexts. This is particularly the case with South American countries where one can find a rich variety of dialects, people and cultures.”
The solution? Milan advises:
“I find that research and critical thinking are the two crucial factors for overcoming this and any challenge I’ve encountered so far at work. By approaching problems with a critical mindset (and an open mind), as well as doing extensive research, I am able to solve the tricky aspects of media analysis.”
Milan shares his thoughts about working at A Data Pro:
“The thing I love the most about my job is just how dynamic it is – every day you can research about different (sometimes the most unexpected!) topics and learn something new. I also get to combine my three big passions: researching, writing and languages.
This job opened a door for me to a whole new world where I learned about the role of languages in this new digital era, especially when it comes to AI (artificial intelligence). I think this field is incredibly exciting for any language enthusiast such as myself.”
Milan enjoys a variety of hobbies:
“I love watching films, series, travelling, reading and writing! However, these last two hobbies I’ve neglected a bit over the last two years, and I am hoping to go back to them more. I would also have to say that I am a very big fan of board games and playing cards. :)”
(Part of ADP for 8 months)
Andjelka’s first encounter with Spanish happened through television shows:
“I first became familiar with Spanish like so many people of my generation from this region – through telenovelas or TV dramas in Spanish. Afterwards, I became addicted to some (much better) Spain-produced TV shows and pop-rock bands, and without realizing it, I’ve soaked up enough of the language that I could maintain a conversation in Spanish with tourists on the streets of Belgrade and read Lorka’s poetry. Since I’m in love with literature and pretty good with language acquisition in general, studying Spanish philology came as a natural choice for my university studies. The more I learn it, the deeper, more complex and more beautiful I find it, so I hope to always keep learning it.”
Similarly to her colleagues, Andjelka says that when she works with Spanish,
“one of the biggest challenges I face is the diversity of legal and business terms caused by the sheer number of Spanish-speaking territories – over 19 countries! It can be a bit overwhelming when you are facing a plethora of different legal terms for very similar concepts, all in the same language but with slightly different meanings in every territory/jurisdiction. Even when I am able to understand the basic meaning of a term at a glance, I have to uncover what it signifies in a country-specific context.”
Interestingly, Andjelka says that she usually deals with this challenge by:
“forming a jigsaw of information: I look up different sources providing the basic meaning of the word, as well as forums that explain its use in the legal or business context. Lastly, I look up articles and sometimes even legislation that contains that expression and try to work out what its implicit meaning is. I go through as many steps as necessary until I am completely sure that I have grasped the right nuance of the meaning of this (sometimes pretty common) expression – kind of like puzzle pieces coming together to spell out the answer.”
Andjelka’s favourite part about working at A Data Pro is the company’s flexibility:
“The workflow is adaptable enough that I can fulfil all of my other obligations, even if they sometimes fall within the regular working hours.
Another thing I like is the subtle process of learning – not of the job itself as much as just acquiring general information without even noticing: over the course of these last 8 months, I have learned a lot about the corporate and legal world, but I have also expanded my Spanish vocabulary with many new terms, without any conscious learning attempts.”
In her free time, Andjelka is many things, including a dancer, translator, and a plant mom!
“In the past, I was an active Argentine tango dancer and instructor, something I hope to be able to pick up again soon. I also love translating literary texts from Spanish, playing video and board games and keeping houseplants alive – when I manage it!”
Thank you for tuning in to this edition of the Confession Series! If you are interested, you can also read about the journeys and experiences of A Data Pro’s Japanese, Korean, Chinese and French analysts as well!