The other day, I spent some time in a department store in Cozumel, Mexico. While wandering through the shelves, I stopped by the toy section where they had a great selection of board games… in Spanish! But don’t worry if you encounter a situation where you need to buy a game in a Spanish-speaking country, you will be able to recognize them through the packaging.
So, what do these board games have to do with Spanish? I think they are great translation examples that shows the usage of verbs, synonyms and even a little local language.
So here goes with these 6 classic board games with their English names in Spanish…
6 Classic Board Games in Spanish
The original English name of this Milton Bradley game is a noun “operation” that literally translate to operación. But in this case, the Spanish word used to translate this game is actually a gerund verb, operando (translation: operating), demonstrating an action that is ongoing. To learn more about gerunds (the so called -ndo form) read this concise explanation from Indiana University – Purdue University Ft. Wayne.
2. BATTLESHIP IS BATALLA NAVAL
This is another great example that shows that translating goes beyond converting one word to its literal equivalent in another language. In this case, a literal translation for “battle ship” could be barco de guerra, barco de batalla or buque de guerra. But this game is more than that; it is strategy like the one needed in war. That is why the translation Batalla Naval (naval battle) fit it perfectly.
Update: I found another version of Battle Ship, this time in Puerto Rico. It is call Hundir Barcos. The name in Spanish shows literally what’s the objective of this game. I still prefer Batalla Naval better.
3. PERFECTION IS DESTREZA
This game requires you to place 25 shapes before the timer releases the platform that will make all the pieces jump… boom! In English the name is Perfection that means perfección. The Spanish version I found was called Destreza that means “skill” and you surely need it to win before the time runs out.
4. THE PRICE IS RIGHT IS ATÍNALE AL PRECIO
The popular game show The Price is Right has a version on Mexican television and its board game is also available. Atínale al Precio is the name used for both the tv show and the board game. The literal Spanish translation for “The price is right” is El precio es correcto, but in this particular case, they chose a name that better expresses the mechanics of the game. The sentence Atínale al precio means “guess the price.” However, the verb atinar is not commonly used in every Latin American country, another words could be adivinar (like Adivina el Precio) or acertar (like Acierta el Precio). In Puerto Rico, the slang for atinar is pegar (like Pega el Precio).
5. CONNECT FOUR IS CONECTA 4 or COLOCA 4
There is not much to explain about this one. The Spanish version is a literal translation from English. Having in mind the mechanics of Connect Four, what other name in Spanish you could come with? Cuatro en línea could be a nice option for me.
6. THE GAME OF LIFE IS EL JUEGO DE LA VIDA
Updated: I recently found this one when I visited my sister recently. It reminds me of the colloquial expression in Spanish jugarse la vida that means “to take risks.”
Board games have been around for a while. The first record of a board game was dated 3500 BC in Egypt and it was called Senet. Today, we have a lot of options, including the electronic versions and apps of the ones we used to play as kids. But these 5 board games featured here were the ones that caught my attention. Do you know more examples of board game versions in Spanish?
Check out these other English Spanish articles.