Are you in the red? Social Networking in Spanish

Ever fancied trying social networking in Spanish?

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Recent estimates suggest that 90% of all Spaniards are members of a social network, and numbers are growing across Latin America. Naturally enough, Facebook is the top destination for Spanish-speakers looking to link up with old friends or find new ones, with other international success stories Twitter and MySpace also occupying an important segment of the market. All of these phenomena began as English-language sites, but the keenness, good will and hard work of the founders meant that Spanish-language variants quickly took off.

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Alongside these huge international networks, there are sites set up specifically for social networking in Spanish, for example Tuenti in Spain and hi5 in Latin America (both, interestingly, with an English influence in their names). Tuenti has the peculiarity of being a private network, meaning that you have to be invited to join by an existing member.

The nature of networking sites is that they attract international hook-ups, and it’s quite common to see people interacting in more than one language. From the perspective of Spanish-speakers, it’s interesting to note their use (or adaptation) of the English terms that formed the cornerstone of each site and, in fact, the bulk of the IT revolution.

Facebook in Spanish

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One great way to improve your language, if you are on Facebook, is to alter your settings to Spanish and see how it’s done! You’ll find that most of the information and commands are straightforwardly translated: buscar amigos (‘search for friends’), comentar (‘to comment’), compartir (‘to share’) and so on. The unisex nature of the English ‘friend’ isn’t, of course, shared by Spanish, so you’ll see snippets like Pepe es amigo(a) de Juan. ‘Liking’ something is done via the term me gusta, and ‘tagging’ is achieved via the verb etiquetar and the noun etiqueta. But the processes are very straightforward, and before long you’ll be saying Pepe y yo estamos activos en Facebook (‘Pepe and I are [active] friends on Facebook’).

An amusing quirk of the way the English language has developed in social networking is the formation of new terms almost at will. English has the facility to make anything into a verb without being constrained by, for example, the Spanish –ar, –er and –ir requirement. Hence verbs like ‘to unfriend’ or ‘to unsubscribe’, which are conveyed in Spanish by the more cumbersome eliminar de mis amigos and cancelar la suscripción respectively.

Social networking in Spanish – becoming part of una red social – is a great way to make friends and learn the language, and the great thing is that the informal, supportive nature of the interaction on networking sites means that nobody’s going to criticise you for making mistakes in Spanish. It’s all about getting your message across, so get your nombre de usuario (‘username’) and contraseña (‘password’) sorted out and away you go: you can añadir amigos (‘add friends’), get into un chat (both ‘chat’ and ‘chat room’) and find so much to comentar y compartir.

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