Most useful to readers familiar with Spanish and looking to expand their vocabularies, but it’s not suitable as a primary...

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SPANISH FLUENCY

TWIN WORDS AND ESSENTIAL VOCABULARY

From the Leverage Your Language series

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4849-8791-9

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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