Half of Americans listen to music in languages besides English




The fact that Reggaeton, Latin, K-pop among others are music are hitting the airways in the US should tell you that there is a cultural shift happening.  Not only are radio stations playing them but streaming channels such as YouTube and Spotify (which are uploaded and created mostly by the listener), have largely been Latino artists.


Why the shift?


As it pertains to Reggaeton specifically, it could be associated with the growing Latino population in the US and globalization.  Although raggaeton began, in Panama, it was actually in Puerto Rico where it really took off and now it has exploded to all of Latin America.

Like hip-hop (where much of reggeaton style is mixed in) where it spoke of social problems, raggaeton mostly is about poverty and class inequality in Latin America.  Although most singers do hail from Puerto Rico, it was in the urban areas of Puerto Rico where they would talk about street violence, struggles of urban life and machismo.  It has now turned into very sexual and explicit lyrics and objectification of women.

Although this music is a fusion of reggae, ton and other Latin rhythms the result of this globalization of pop culture and music does stem from American influence.   


Yet, beginning in 2016 and 2017, Latin music specifically reggateton and trap have become mainstream and overtaking English songs .Now they are the ones reaching out to the reggaeton artists


Reggaeton took a while to reach Latin America but it has exploded particularly in Colombia.  Latin America because of its social and economic inequalities, the listeners resonated with it, Colombian artists have risen to the top of American, and international pop charts via the streaming sites such as YouTube and Spotify.

Although raggaeton itself is a musical fusion of reggae and rap and hip-hop mixed with Latin and Caribbean beats is what makes this style so irresistible to dance to and listen to.

All this coupled with very sexual and suggestive lyrics is a mix that has captured the attention of the urban youth. 

Lyrically speaking is another matter altogether.

Given that most are recorded in Spanish, most did not mind not understanding it, since the music is good.

Per YouGov, a market research firm conducted a study in Hispanic music in 2018; they found that 47% of 1210 millennial respondents listened to music in a different language other than English.  Of the total respondents 52% stated that Spanish was their language of preference and among Hispanics, it was 89%.  (No surprise there)

However, when asked if they have to understand the lyrics to enjoy the song, half of them said they do not need to because they enjoy the rhythm and its fun.



In 2018, the three most views and streamed videos were all Latino reggaeton singers with nearly billion views per video.  In addition, if last year’s Despacito was any indication well yes, I can vow for that.


This is quite telling because the US has always been and is for a large part the main exporter of pop culture, movies, music, and sports.  Because  there are   three major companies controlling  80%   of the music industry  the  output through radio stations and charts, music was and is of course mostly  in English.

Music at some time was very homogeneous these companies did not believe that a song would not be sellable or likable if the content was non-English.  A good example of this was 1984 Nena has hit   99 Red Balloons.  This song was already a hit in Europe but before it was released in the US and UK it was translated to English for the American listener.

Yet, beginning in 2016 and 2017, Latin music specifically reggeateton and trap have become mainstream and overtaking English language songs.  In addition, they have the streaming companies to thank for that.


Just for fun, I decided to link aa Reddit forum because I thought it was interesting to read what type of music and why they like about foreign music and it is not just about language and lyrics.










The  Disconnect Between Medical Interpreting Services and  LEP Patients During the Pandemic


Although it is a law that you have to provide language interpreters to the patients that need it, and some hospitals do have staff interpreters,  it is too far from the norm in many hospitals. Yet, despite being a law not to mamy are aware that is a responsibility and have not implemented and enforced it due to varying state laws , changing demographics and state reimbursement practices. Most importantly however,  most facilities  cite costs and time constraints as a reason.  Rather they rely on  interpretation from  either their hospital personnel that  is not qualified to interpret,   or family members (usually young children) to interpret for them.

Why is this important?

By law, if  you receive federal funds through grants or through Medicare and Medicaid, you are supposed to  provide language access to the patient that needs it but  that  means that you have to file a physical claim  and wait until you are reimbursed  and depending on the state, the state is not obligated to reimburse the provider for such services, therefore incurring the cost. It  is mandatory to be free to the patient but with their contract with the language provider, the language provider bills them then bill via claim.


There is no federal requirement to be certified as an interpreter  but  it is highly requested  and desirable that one is. Many errors can and do occur when someone interprets outside their field of expertise but  because of these requirements and certifications, the availability of a certified and qualified interpreter  is  difficult to attain.  The use of certified interpreters also  command a higher rate  than a freelance  uncerrtified interpreter  and charge per hour even if  it is 10 minute  consult with a patient. For reasons already stated, many forgo the practice of using them.


besides being a law,   Is its very important particularly now that we are going through a global pandemic and patients with limited English proficiency are less likely to get the proper and lifesaving  care they need. Granted that  during this pandemic hospital workers are burned now and have to act  immediately to save lives and having a language barrier only adds to their inability to provide immediate care.


In person interpretation or face-to-face  is more desired by both patients and doctors alike.  it is not always feasable and under  the recent outbreak  it is not desirable or recommended.


Because the coronavirus is so contagious even  with PPE  ( proper protective equipment)  many hospitals are releasing their in house interpreters because  they are keeping ‘essential personnel”  but rather opting for third party services which are less costly so  they resort to over the phone interpreting (OPI) and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).

Given the new normal, even if you are qualified and certified  hospitals only request to have OPI or VRI interpreting  and not within their  regular place of employment  either In some  hospitals the inhouse staff interpreters are given the option or stay in as a full-time interpreter or take unpaid leave but without the possibility of working from home.  This option puts them in a serious situation it is either your job or your health  because no one other than medical personnel is allowed in the room or emergency room with them, not even when critical.

However, that is not the true reason, they are opting for OPI and VRI for cost. Many hospitals because of the pandemic are losing revenue because all other procedures that normally get billed are not being performed and the revenue stream to supply for these services is low.

OPI and VRI are billed by the minute and paid for as long as they are needed compared to the full hour of service.

So not even the most qualified interpreter can’t be personally there to help and assist linguistically and LEP patients are literally left to die. There is so much need  and urgency at the same time for the  doctors  that they have to be “efficient before effective communication”that patients  are suffering  grave consequences.

Getting in touch with  OPI interpreters takes seconds but that also depends on the language  requested.  Spanish is a relatively easy language to request but  depending on the language, it may take minutes to find and locate an interpreter with that language requested and some say that they have to wait up to 10 minutes for an interpreter. Also, many hospitals do not have the proper video equipment to provide video interpreting and because of privacy laws and patient confidentiality  the use of Zoom and other video conferencing is not a feasible option. That is valuable time waiting when you have others that are  just as severe.

Studies and stats already show the disparity in care for non English speakers and minorities  Mostly  because there is such a rush of patients where all of them are in need  of lifesaving care.


Despite this, there is a very disturbing  reality when it comes to the healthcare system and that is that  healthcare is business and most agencies, facilities and healthcare organizations are looking at the “bottom line “ to provide services.   When the bottom line is profit, and added costs ( as they believe  interpretation services ) are slashed, patients that rely on these services suffer greatly communicating their symptoms to a doctor.


So not only do you have qualified, certified interpreters ready to work and patients desperate to communicate with the doctor but with a huge disconnect between them.


So here you have two great needs one available and able to provide it, and on the other hand doctors desperate to understand and save patients and having this huge disconnect between the two services and the ones suffering are patients themselves.



What Does Hispanic Really Mean?

Why you may ask I keep writing on the Hispanic culture and everything associated with it in a translation blog instead of language?

Because for most translations that are associated with Hispanics or Latinos, one has to see how the language changes (despite being Spanish or Portuguese) into that particular culture and depending on the client, the audience that will be reading the text and from what particular country or region of same.

Also, the definition of Hispanic itself is quite misinterpreted and frankly what does being Hispanic really mean?  Cultural identity is so complex with so many factors that it is  not only language, because not being fluent in the language does make you less or more Latino than a the fully bilingual Latino; it is experiences, upbringing, education, and maybe even the integration of other nationalities within  your “Latino characteristics”  that may contribute to  incorrectly being labeled “Hispanic”.

I can identify with this idea of the Third Culture Kid (TCK) as in the video you will see below. I too can relate to this confusing definition of cultural identity and feeling that although you may be born  a particular country you don’t necessarily identify with your country of birth.  The idea of being ‘rootless’ –not knowing where you belong and how to describe yourself was a constant in my life and particularly when I moved permanently to the US because it always became a conversation starter in any social situation.

Just to give you a summary of how cultural identity can confuse and mess with you. I was born in the US to Cuban parents but raised in Brazil. I do associate with the Latino culture because of my parents but I never been to Cuba, I lived in Brazil most of my life and I love everything about it but I am not directly linked through blood or otherwise to fully say I am Brazilian. I live in the US now and although have assimilated  to American life, I identify with the Hispanic and Latino culture and generally gravitate towards everything “Latino”.


To answer the question, where you from is not necessarily easy for some, me included.  You may be born in a country, raised in another, have your formative years and educational years in another, speak their language fluently but still feel  that you don’t necessarily “belong”.

And the keyword here is belonging.

Hispanics as a whole do try to maintain these ties to their homeland not only because they  generally  live in multi generational households where their roots, customs and culture are continuously reinforced by their peers and relatives, but also  because they have a deep-rooted connection to family that regardless of your degree of acculturation and assimilation it is hard not to carry part of that identity with you particularly when it is so pronounced. Despite  being a 2nd and maybe 3rd generation Hispanic, how they define themselves and what do they really feel they are is truly their cultural identity.

 It is the family and deep-rooted connections that make up your identity and give you that sense of belonging.

This article although a bit dated from the Pew Research Center  explains this concept fully and although we may not fit the government label of Hispanic or Latino you are what you feel you are.

So in essence it is all these factors that have been brought together experiences, upbringing, education, and maybe even the integration of other nationalities  summed up that generally define belonging and as a result becomes what identifies them.

In essence, most Hispanics and Latinos refer to themselves through their country of origin rather than the  general “Hispanic” label.  I guess  the reasons are obvious no one truly represents a Hispanic culture but several facets in it.

The rest I  can say I am a citizen of the world. And proud. Although this ‘cultural identity crisis’ has been an issue for me, I have come to embrace it and has become largely the reason why I do what I do.

It is very difficult and unrealistic to pigeonhole people by certain characteristics to fit  the mold of what it is perceived to be Hispanic or any other ethnicity by using language, location and nationality into one, because we are the result of many cultures and sometimes one more than another.

I don’t know how many times I have heard this from people “Oh, but you don’t look Hispanic” or fill in the blank here. What are they supposed to look like?  As if that was not enough try adding race into the mix; a biracial/bicultural into the mix  could get even more complex.

Finally,  As if not looking the part wasn’t enough, some already assume that you may not speak the language fluently and they increase their tone of voice as if that would actually make you understand the language better (which is a way to demean you as well).

This one incident did happen to me and all I could think of is ‘If you only knew”.

I speak to many people and they still don’t know the difference between Latino and Hispanic and actually use the term interchangeably which would be incorrect.  In a brief note Hispanic refers to language; Latino refers to geography. As in ‘hispano-hablante” y latino- americano” Hispanic are all Latin American countries that are Spanish-speaking excluding Brazil (that is not) and Latino are all countries is Latin America including Brazil (because of its location).

I found two videos (there may be plenty more) but I have chosen these two because as I was listening to them, I could not only relate to them but understand (particularly in the last one) how everything does become part of your identity rather than a pigeonhole label.



Would this also apply to you?  I would love to read your comments.

Cultural Differences in Language Could Make or Break Your Marketing Copy

As you read in a earlier post,  translating taglines or slogans directly into a specific language does not only alter the meaning  or gets ‘lost in translation” but also their result may be truly disastrous, hilarious or downright offensive.

Yet these mistranslations from English to Spanish are pretty rampant and many, many blogs quite repetitively I might add have written and listed each and every sample of these blunders. However, none of them were able to discuss is what they would have done instead or how they would have corrected the blunder.  To me in many cases they are careless assumptions and most likely machine translations provided by Google Translate.

Yes most of these ad agencies do not have a diverse staff that would provide that type of information, here is the added value of a translator well versed and well-rounded in these cultural nuances would be of help. Sometimes even being bilingual and bicultural and being able to grasp the the nuances of the language and the cultural relevance needed to bring the message across, it becomes an incredibly difficult task. It involves creativity, ingenuity and a sharp wit to make a tagline stick into people’s mind and make it relatable to them.

Also, although knowing all too well that the client has the last word and sometimes disagree on your version, we can at least suggest correct wordiness to avoid these disasters.

So it seems.  

Funny enough the motor industry has had a few of them and not only in their ads but in their car brand name. I guess if you are Latino you would think twice about driving this car; or these not because it is not good but you do get the picture. This is a cultural difference that did break their copy!

After all, it is about cultural relevancy and awareness that makes Latinos respond to brands.


GlobalWebIndex identified 4 factors that Hispanics value and that should be in the minds of marketers when selling to the group.  All of these ties into the relevancy aspect and how they respond to brands.

Remember that when they feel they are represented, they can become the biggest ambassadors to your brand. Not only they are loyal; they will tell everyone about it through social media.

  • Authenticity and transparency in a product or service is important to Hispanics. A product that does not define, state the real purpose or intention is not something Hispanic value in brands. In other words, it has to solve a problem or get them to where they want to go.


  • They value products that are socially responsible. I have written on this point before as well a while back. They seek companies that give back to communities or that create possibilities and create a positive social impact. This is highly important to them.
  • It goes without mention that culture is important to them and although they are English speaking this is important to them. 35% of Hispanics say they prefer ads that reflect their culture. And 28% also say they prefer brands that feature Hispanic celebrities on English-language TV.
  • They are willing to spend more for quality (no surprise, we all do) but become but become more brand loyal when it is something that they value and says what they advertised (this goes back to point 1). Lastly although English is they primary language for social media interactions (78%), 56% state that Spanish is largely spoken at home, again the use of bilingual advertising is essential.

Since most of these factors are cultural in nature, the copy of course should be too.  These are just a few that when writing ad copy be integrated into it.  ¡Calidad, servicio, comunidad, familia y mucho más!

When searching the web (and they do  a lot of)  they still prefer their content in Spanish, particularly web content and read English only sites if they have no other choice.  Should there be a tab” En Español” they are more likely to click on that tab than continue with the English version.  You may see some examples here from ESPN en espanol. AdWords in Spanish is a good source too, they tend to search for the term in Spanish and ten revert to English information.

Furthermore, for Spanish consumers a Spanish domain would help them remember you more that would an English domain name. These domains  have  to be researched of course we may not want to end up in the same situations as these major brands that name their product cars after derogatory terms.

All of these hints may seem commonsense and simple yet they could not be farther from the truth. Why then they happen so often?  The reason? Cost.  The lack of diversity in ad companies and the company’s idea to have a more cost effective marketing is the reasoning behind it. However, I could understand saving money, we all do, but if you are directing your ad to foreign markets then I find it silly not to have people within the ad group to advice of how copy should be written or addressed and what factors of that culture you should emphasize.   Although marketers are taking note of this idea, it still does not resonate with many and still tend to use the one size fits all approach.

For this reason, even with the commonality of language there are cultural differences in language that can make some references offensive or even misunderstood.

The only similarities that bind these groups together are language and family and even their concept of family is broader than many for Hispanics, family is the nuclear and extended family together possibly in the same household.

Doing Hispanic Marketing the Right Way-Why Should You Target Hispanics in 2019

In January 2017, I wrote a similar post previewing the changes that would eventually happen in the field of Hispanic marketing and why it should be a demographic to closely look at and  what brands should be paying attention to generate sales from this group.

Two years later, and two weeks into 2019, using the same idea and the same structure, I would like to share how the demographic have changed and what is projected to reach this ever-growing demographic and why still within a two year span are marketers still not in the ball with this demographic. The numbers are there; their vision is not.


In December of 2016 it was estimated that the Hispanic usage of the WhatsApp alone was 45%.  Back then it was projected to increase by 62% (overall usage of smartphones in 2017).  Fast forward to early 2019 and by 2018 numbers, although it number varies by education levels and disposable income, it is generally at 77%


What Has Changed?

With several factors remaining constant as income and education levels, the three studies show that there was a consistent annual growth in usage and ownership.


Why is It Still Important?

When it becomes the sole instrument of communication, research, relationship building, entertainment, engagement and purchasing, it will be then the most effective and most productive way to reach them.

Back in 2017, I discussed that geo-marketing and that geo- location would be the way to target not only the Hispanic base but most all markets. Per e-Marketer spending for geo-location ads will top 38.7 billion by 2022, more than doubling 2017 figures.


Given that TV ads and billboards for the most part have been largely replaced by targeted ads directly sent to smartphone devices it is not surprising that this mode of advertising is projected to grow.

English Language Hispanic Targeted Content

What Has Changed?

Language is still important but culture is more. While most 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics are English proficient and acculturated their connection to their Latin roots is still prevalent and are more inclined to follow, buy, promote and share content that speaks to them culturally and if it is bilingual they are more inclined to share it.

This is a big factor for Hispanics, for most Hispanics who are US born, their affinity to their culture and everything that embodies it, is very important to them, third generation Hispanics value their cultural heritage through food, traditions, family values, and family name. Language came in 7th most important. This is also true when searching online. They search in Spanish for general keywords but research entirely in English. AdWords in Spanish is a good way to go too.

What Has Remained Constant?

Cultural connection and cultural relevance go hand in hand and most often is is defined by language and customs. Because this connection is important to them, language is important and should not be ignored in your advertising.

Cultural connection regardless of foreign born or US born Hispanics, is very important to them because of family’s connection to their homeland. This is ingrained by parents and reinforced by grandparents and although they have adapted or acculturated to US customs, they do preserve and are proud of their Latin heritage. Therefore, ads targeting the cultural relevance or that portray that specific group in a non-stereotypical respond favorably to ads.

Why Is It Still Important?

Hispanics value community and base their choices on other people’s recommendations. As stated above when they feel that brands cater to them they are very willing to recommend and share it with their peers and family.

It is what triggers their desire to purchase. It means that a brand is going the extra mile to understand and resonate with their culture. It furthers their loyalty to the brand and become mayor brand ambassadors to it by sharing and promoting their ads.



What Has Changed?

Latino populations generally concentrated in (link my post) in early 2017 were in The greatest growth in the  Hispanic population from 2010-2015 were  in the states of California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, Colorado and New Mexico 

By late 2018, the multicultural population (including Latino and Asian- another growing subgroup) was at 50% in Hawaii, District of Columbia, California, New Mexico and Texas, with Nevada, Maryland, Georgia, Arizona, Florida and New York, where Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Miami are already a multicultural majority.   Not only do more states account for more multicultural populations but that they account for about 50%

Growth by the Numbers

What Has Changed?

Source: Forbes

  • Hispanics’ spending is growing faster than non-Hispanic expenditure. Hispanics led CPG sales growth in 2017 with + 1.0% in $ change vs. a year ago, vs. only + 0.3% growth from Non-Hispanics. (per Nielsen Target Track, Total US xAOC, 52 weeks ending December 2017)
  • In 2018 this trend continued with a + 1.8% increase in Hispanic spending YTD vs. +1.3% from Non-Hispanics, a 33% difference! (per Nielsen Target Track, Total US xAOC, YTD ending 4/28/2018)
  • Out of 15 different departments within a regular retail store, 13 of them experienced growth from Hispanic consumers vs. only 8 that saw an increase from Non-Hispanic consumers. (per Nielsen Target Track, 37 markets, 52 w/e 4/28/18)
  • In 11 of these 15 departments, sales growth with Hispanic consumers outpaced Non-Hispanic consumers’ sales. (per Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending 4/21/18 vs YAGO)
  • From a geographical standpoint, Nielsen tracked sales performance in 37 markets. In 76% of these markets, Hispanic consumers’ sales growth was equal or stronger than Non-Hispanic consumers’ sales. (per Nielsen Target Track & Homescan, Total U.S. xAOC, 52 weeks ending December 2017) From Time to add Hispanic marketing… shopping cart. Forbes

Why Is It Still Important?

This is important because the numbers consistently show an increase in expenditure per year. Back in 2017, when the immigration crackdown began there were many articles that (I have a blog post on this subject) that stated that Hispanic consumption and businesses that relied on the Hispanic consumer were suffering mayor losses because many were afraid to leave home in fear or being stopped. These numbers disprove this notion entirely.



With all of this information at hand, what then is the ‘right’ way to reach them? Above all, why would I be interested in giving these facts and figures to marketers? Because to me despite of all this information and facts stated over and over again, there are still have a:


  1. Blanket approach to selling to them.
  2. Rely on bad translation and stereotypical images of Hispanics on TV, film, music and ads. (This is where I could really be of help to them)
  3. The notion that because 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics are fully bilingual and acculturated, they should be able to understand our system by now.
  4. Because rather that investing on a largely potential market, they find it too costly to do so because of the large adjustments that take to fully engage the audience in their ads.


Therefore, according to MediaPost the three takeaways that could be implemented in 2019 are:

  1. You have to implement and address multicultural marketing. Growth means incorporating diversity into your marketing.
  2. Implementation of diversity and multicultural marketing in all levels from beginning to end.
  3. They must invest in diversity. Most agencies spend less than 1% on multicultural marketing.
  4. Human interaction.
  5. Diversity, Diversity.                                                           

So in short, everything is connected to engage them; language, culture, customs, heritage, family and community. Embodying all this factors with a bit of creativity will go a long way with the Hispanic consumer.

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