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Spanish Voice Overs: A New Language
Emerges For Advertisers & Companies
By Dan (Daniel Eduardo) Hurst
Bilingual Voice Actor
Click below to hear the author read this article in North American Spanish
A new Spanish language is developing in the United States and Canada: North American Spanish.
It has become noticeable with advertisers as well as companies that produce training materials.

Clients seeking to produce an audio/video project in Spanish will usually explain what kind of Spanish they want for their project.
As a bilingual voice talent, I’ve noticed that there are more and more requests for generic Spanish that is accepted cross-culturally. That is North American Spanish.

The Hispanic culture within the United States and Canada has so developed that we are now three and four generations deep with many families.
That blending into the North American culture is producing an adapted language; a language that is accepted and understood by all generations.

What that means for advertisers and audio producers is that the idea of using culture -specific voice talent is no longer particularly useful.
For instance, it used to be that if you wanted to reach the Hispanic population in:
  • New York, you chose a Puerto Rican voice talent;
  • Florida, you chose a Cuban voice talent;
  • California and Texas, you chose a Mexican voice talent.
However, a few years ago we started hearing some outstanding voice talents from various other Spanish countries, and the norm began to change. The shift was on for a cross-cultural language.

Now the demand is for undetectable regional influence.
A few years ago clients would say, "It doesn’t sound Mexican enough,” or "She doesn’t really sound like a Puerto Rican,” when they reviewed voice talent demos.
Now you’ll hear comments like, "She sounds too Colombian,” or "He’s too Mexican.”

Almost every native Spanish voice talent boasts that their Spanish is the most generic, but the truth is that real generic Spanish is simply unaccented, non-regional, and cross-culturally effective.
That is exactly what North American Spanish is. You wouldn’t necessarily want to use it in another country, but you could.
However, here in North America, it’s perfect.

For Spanish voice talents, this all means that we need to refocus our marketing strategies to capitalize on our significant strengths.
It’s no longer enough to say you are a native Spanish speaker.
Now clients want to know if your Spanish will work for the broad culture they are targeting.
If you are a native Spanish speaker living and working within the United States, you’re going to have an easier time marketing yourself to U.S. clients, especially if you’ve been here for many years, and have adapted to the generational cross culture.

Is there a time when a company would want to use regional specific Spanish? Of course.
If they are seeking to reach first generation Spanish speakers, it would be appropriate to use a native speaker from their region.
As a voice talent, if you have not adapted to the new American Spanish, target your marketing to your language strength.

Companies producing Spanish projects for North America are also becoming more cautious about using a non-native speaker.
Spanish audiences can detect a Spanish-As-A-Second-Language speaker in a heartbeat.
So, even if your Spanish use is strong, if it isn’t native, you should probably consider other ways to use your language skills such as producing, translations, or copy writing.
Dan (Daniel Eduardo) Hurst is an experienced bilingual (English and Spanish) voice talent operating out of the Kansas City area. His business now extends internationally, with clients including Sprint, Hallmark, Walmart, Ford, T39 Telemundo and the Kansas City Royals.
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Comments (18)
Fernando Godinez
12/26/2014 at 11:28 PM
I have found several bilingual voice over artists, but not one with this vocal ability. I am not only very impressed but inspired by Dan (Daniel Eduardo) Hurst.

Thank you for this valuable article.
Adela Maria Bolet
5/9/2013 at 9:34 AM
Excellent points, Dan. Thank you for clarifying that to our monolingual friends.

I think the real point is that there is still a large place for Spanish language commercial work for regional accents, but for corporate work, and web learning and such, the neutral Spanish is much more marketable in the US.

For work in Europe, Castillian Spanish is much more prevalent, although, again, it largely depends on the target audience. Also, for our Union talent, the great news is that Spanish language work has achieved full parity in the newly negotiated SAG-AFTRA commercial contracts. More rights, more fully protected work; bilingualism is an invaluable asset, not a stigma or second class citizenship. Viva!
Constantino de Miguel
1/10/2013 at 12:52 AM
So true. The so-called US Spanish is here to stay. 60 million Spanish speakers make this country the 2nd Spanish speaking country after Mexico and before Argentina or Spain. Top advertisers know that the cross-cultural Spanish is the one that is appropriate to target Hispanics not just in this country but all over Latin America.

Check out for interesting statistics on this under the post titled: "Spanish, no longer a foreign language in the US"
Gina G
6/6/2011 at 4:05 PM
Very nicely done! I loved listening to his sample. Although I'm just learning Spanish, it gives me an idea on my German when I get that recorded. Muchos Gracias!
Perla Barraza
6/2/2011 at 7:18 PM

Great article...and yes, all my clients asked for a specific Spanish Mexican or Latin American, and now they are asking for more North American Spanish.

It Is always a pleasure to read you.

Abrazos y Saludos a todos
Amanda Cropper
6/2/2011 at 1:29 PM
In my experience, 99% of my clients want a neutral Spanish, not something specific to a region. My work is almost all corporate in nature, not broadcast to specific areas, and often posted on a website, Youtube, etc.

For example, I have a client who is firmly entrenched in Mexico, and the scripts are translated by a Mexican team, but we use a neutral Spanish voice. They want to ensure that a broader audience can still be reached, since everything is posted on the web on their Spanish "channel." They know that it's not just going to be Mexico they reach this way.

The problem I am finding these days are clients who want to use the same piece in Latin America/North America and Spain. They call it "universal Spanish." As a linguist and someone who's been working in the translation industry for a long time, I personally think this is not possible...totally different accent, different everyday words, etc. I'm curious to know what the rest of you think.
Amy Taylor
6/2/2011 at 8:09 AM

Great accent. Where are you from? LOL. I agree 100%. I've noticed this trend brewing for some time. National clients are happy when they can use the same Spanish recordings in Chicago, Miami, New York, etc.

¡Adelante, pues!

Amy Taylor
Dan Hurst
6/1/2011 at 7:24 PM
Paul Strikwerda raises an interesting point about the influence of the media on N.A. Spanish. It's sort of a catch-22 for them. They use native talent for their product,'ll hear a variety of regions in the same Novela, Variety Show, Newscasts, etc. That mixture all contributes to the morphing of the new Spanish.

I have the privilege of voicing the English/Spanish promos for Telemundo, and I've noticed that they have embraced the variety of Spanish language regions. Very smart on their part!

But does it influence the viewers? My guess is: not really. Rather, it reflects the melting pot nature of North America.

On the other hand, Scooby-Doo did affect the way I talk.
John Florian
6/1/2011 at 5:22 PM
Hi Adiana,
Thanks for catching the typo! I've made the correction.
6/1/2011 at 5:12 PM
Dan - "Colombia" is with an "o" not a "u".
Reuven Miller
6/1/2011 at 4:20 PM
Dan, this brought back such memories of my high school Spanish teacher in New York (with her rompapiedras Castillian accent) telling us, "You should sound authentically SOMEthing." I returned the following September - having worked all summer in the South Bronx - speaking like a NewYorican. Her comment? "That's NOT what I meant!!" I have since evened out my pronunciation (not to mention my slang vocabulary!), but have been out of the North American loop for many years. Many thanks for the update. Donde puedo hallar otros ejemplos?
Jane Ingalls
6/1/2011 at 4:17 PM
Saludos Dan,
This definitely confirms what I have been sensing in the business. Thank you for putting words to it. (Muy efectivo y sin acento!)
Un abrazo,
Rick Lance
6/1/2011 at 4:16 PM
Dan. as a non-Spanish-speaking talent, I've suspected this has been happening in North America. It's interesting that you brought this up. Much more interesting from a practical POV for those Hispanic talent out there.

I guess after a while this cultural effect on a language will occur. Good of you to bring the topic to the forefront. It's something we should all be aware of.
Mauricio Perez
6/1/2011 at 3:21 PM
Great point, Dan. I have had two opportunities where the clients asked me if my Spanish was from USA .... now is very important to pay more attention to this tendency.

Mauricio Perez
Paul Strikwerda
6/1/2011 at 2:38 PM
Gracias, Dan! After the debate about "neutral English," we can now discuss español norteamericano.

The U.S. has the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking community. In what way do TV channels such as Univisión, Telemundo, and Azteca América influence the Spanish that is spoken in the States?

Have you noticed a shift in the prefered Spanish pronnciation of these stations?
Nina Maria Nazor
6/1/2011 at 2:11 PM
Dan, what a great article! I agree with you one hundred per cent. Thank you for sharing!

Nina Maria Nazor
Rowell Gormon
6/1/2011 at 1:07 PM
This is the first I've heard of the trend, but it does make perfect sense.

So glad I use you for most of my Spanish-language stuff (and if you can stretch to doing a female delivery, I'll use you for those, too!).
Bettye Zoller
6/1/2011 at 12:50 PM
Wonderful article, Dan. I'll talk about this article and you on our webinar night of June 7, Joe Loesch and I present "The Voice Over Demo Today" sponsored by VOXTRA. Join us everybody. Gonna be good stuff!
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