Unlike other vocabulary guides that require the rote memorization of literally thousands of words, this book starts from the premise that using the etymological connections between Spanish and English words—their common derivations from Latin, Greek, and other languages—is the most effective way to acquire and remember vocabulary. This approach is suitable for beginners as well as for advanced students. Teachers of the language will also find much material that can be used to help motivate their students to acquire, and retain, Spanish vocabulary.
Spanish Vocabulary is divided into four parts and four annexes:
- Part I provides background material on the origins of Spanish and begins the process of presenting Spanish vocabulary.
- Part II presents "classical" Spanish vocabulary—words whose form (in both Spanish and English) is nearly unchanged from Latin and Greek.
- Part III deals with "popular" Spanish vocabulary, which underwent significant changes in form (and often meaning) during the evolution from Latin to Spanish. A number of linguistic patterns are identified that will help learners recognize and remember new vocabulary.
- Part IV treats a wide range of themes, including words of Germanic and Arabic origin, numbers, time, food and animals, the family, the body, and politics.
- Annex A: Principal exceptions to the "Simplified Gender Rule"
- Annex B: 700 words whose relations, if any, to English words are not immediately obvious
- Annex C: -cer verbs and related words
- Annex D: 4,500 additional words, either individually or in groups, with English correspondences
This book is intended for students at all levels who seek to enhance their Spanish vocabulary, as well as for those who wish simply to explore the wide-ranging connections between Spanish and English vocabulary. The approach differs markedly from that of "traditional" Spanish vocabulary books that present lists of words with English definitions, grouped by subject areas. While such lists can be useful for reviewing and maintaining vocabulary, they often are of far less value to students seeking to acquire new vocabulary, or at least to those not blessed with photographic memories.
Spanish Vocabulary: An Etymological Approach offers elements rarely found in a work addressed to a nonspecialist audience, including:
- etymological connections of Spanish and English vocabulary
- historical and linguistic information on the origin and evolution of Spanish
- comparative references to developments in other Romance languages (and English)
A multifaceted approach is employed, ranging from presenting words in a historical context to developing an understanding of the "shape" or "feel" of Spanish. While extensive use of lists is also made, there is a crucial difference: in the large majority of cases, Spanish words are associated explicitly with related English words, an association that can greatly facilitate learning and retaining these words. As an example, the correspondence amable (Spanish)—amiable (English) can be used as the basis for learning a number of other Spanish words:
||— amiability, kindness
||— friendship, amity
||— (to) love
||— loving, lover
|— enamorar — (to) enamor
|— enamorado, enamorada
||— in love, enamored, lover, inamorato, inamorata
The presentation is divided into four parts, plus four annexes. The book can be studied sequentially or "à la carte" (Spanish a la carta). It is in fact recommended that one move back and forth between the sections to provide a greater element of variety.
Part I provides general background material on the origins of Spanish and begins the process of presenting Spanish vocabulary. Part II presents "classical" Spanish vocabulary, that is, words whose form (in both Spanish and English) is nearly unchanged from Latin and Greek. Part III deals with "popular" Spanish vocabulary, or words that during the evolution from Latin to Spanish underwent significant change in form (and often in meaning as well). A number of "patterns" are set out that can help one to recognize and remember new vocabulary. Part IV treats in a more discursive manner various themes, including Germanic and Arabic words, numbers, time, food and animals, the family, the body, and politics.
The annexes present additional words in list form:
- Annex A: Principal Exceptions to the "Simplified Gender Rule"
- Annex B: 700 Not-So-Easy Words (whose relations, if any, to English words are not immediately obvious)
- Annex C: Verbs Ending in -cer and Related Words
- Annex D: 4,500 Relatively Easy Words (with English correspondences)
David Brodsky, who currently resides in Aix-en-Provence, France, is also the author of Spanish Verbs Made Simple(r) and French Verbs Made Simple(r). He holds advanced degrees from MIT and Yale University.