Differences in Latin American and mainstream Spanish linguistics?

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot of differences in "proper" Spanish and Latin American Spanish, yet they all seem to be able to understand each other. The problem is, I’m finding it more difficult to learn vocabulary because some of my CD’s are Latin American dialect, and some are Spain’s, which is causing me a lot of confusion.

My question is, though I love altavista babelfish, it generally only translates from English to Spanish that is common to Spain. To get it to translate common Cuban, Puerto Rican, etc…Spanish, I have to already know the word I’m looking for in Spanish, then have it translate to English (ie. babelfish translates "table" to "tabla"…to get it to bring up "mesa" I have to do a reverse translation).

Anyway, are there any good translation sites that can help me with this issue? I want to learn as many forms as possible, so if I need the spelling help (I have trouble placing accents), I need a site that will translate the proper spelling of the word I’m looking for from my Latin American Spanish CD’s…

Hope this isn’t confusing.
I apologize if I’ve offended because when I said "proper", I didn’t mean it to sound like I meant the right way…which is why I put it in parenthesis. I couldn’t, for the life of me, think of the word ‘regional’. That’s why I’m looking for better translating methods, because I know that regionally, I would be more likely to hear the more it than the Spanish peninsular form.

One Comment

  1. Excuse me? Latin American Spanish IS mainstream Spanish, and is perfectly "proper" (just regionally different). It is spoken by far more people than peninsular Spanish.

    That said, babelfish and altavista and all other online translators are useless because they have the nerve to offer sentence or paragraph translations without regard to context. If you want to translate individual words or phrases, you will be much better off with reputable sites like WordReference.com, which list many possibilities for each entry and also maintain a forum for further questions.

    RK

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