An idiosyncratic approach to teaching Spanish vocabulary.
With a heavy emphasis on English-Spanish cognates, Nus’ (Italian Fluency, 2012) guide presents useful vocabulary for Anglophones learning to speak Spanish. After an overview of complementary methods of language learning (apps, videos, etc.), Nus dives into lists of words that are similar in English and Spanish. The cognates are first organized by common lexigraphic elements (i.e., words ending in -mento/-miento) and presented in list form. Subsequent word lists are organized by theme, from food and the arts through business and technology. After presenting a list of verbs Nus considers essential to comprehension, the book then uses quotations, rendered in both English and Spanish, to demonstrate the use of approximately 1,000 commonly used words. The translations provided are generally correct, and Nus incorporates a wide range of basic vocabulary. However, in several cases, only one definition is provided for a word with multiple distinct meanings. For example, tarde is translated as an adjective, but its meaning as a noun is omitted; planta is translated as “plant,” with no mention of its other meanings of “sole,” “factory,” or “floor.” The words chosen for definition are arbitrary, and the omissions often seem likely to present difficulties in comprehension: la cura (“care, treatment, cure”) is defined but not el cura, which means “priest.” Minor spelling errors (“Ben Johnson,” “Frederick Douglas,” “Ralph Nadar”) do not detract from the book’s meaning, but combined with internal inconsistencies (desgracia is translated as “disgrace” just pages after readers are warned it is a false cognate), they are noticeable. The book is primarily focused on nouns and adjectives, and aside from conjugating the nine “essential” verbs, Nus does not address verb usage or Spanish grammar.
Most useful to readers familiar with Spanish and looking to expand their vocabularies, but it’s not suitable as a primary tool for learning the language.