This guest post is from my friend Linda, who lives near me in Mexico. — Rosana
Beginning and even intermediate level students of Spanish usually own a few bi-lingual dictionaries. I know, because I am an advanced intermediate student now and for the longest time I depended on my copy of The New World Spanish/English, English/Spanish Dictionary with its bizillion words.
Now I am living in Mexico and have a terrific teacher who has encouraged me to use a Spanish-Spanish dictionary as much as possible. She showed me several of her tomes which totally discouraged me with their small print and complicated definitions. Then with a smile on her face my teacher brought out two other dictionaries, both designed for students of Mexican Spanish. After glancing through them both, I knew I would go buy each of them. After several frustrating minutes I finally found both of them on Amazon, albeit not with the exact titles, which seem to have gotten lost in the translation!
Diccionario escolar mexicano by the publisher Trillas. The dictionary is divided into three parts: the dictionary itself which includes over 20,000 words with brief definitions and synonyms; Mexicanismos or terms specific to Mexico, many of them from Nahuatl or other Indian languages (but in current use); and a mini encyclopedia of the history, art, politics, literature and geography of Mexico.
This dictionary is geared to the upper primary school student in Mexico; however, this 736 page gem is a necessity for you if you are an intermediate beginner (and up) English speaking Spanish student. It is basic, written in easy to understand Spanish and will help you think of the vocabulary in Spanish. Often I find that I learn a new and important vocabulary word as I read the definition for the original word. I note the ones that seem particularly useful for me now. Since I live in Mexico I find the Mexicanismos helpful, especially when traveling since words used in different regions are defined. Tourists with some Spanish proficiency will find the encyclopedia very informative as they travel. It’s really convenient to read the brief entries about places of interest and the history associated with them.
Dime: Diccionario inicial del espanol de Mexico, also published by Trillas: this 632 page dictionary has a very interesting origin. Over 4,000 pages written by Mexican children were evaluated and from those pages linguists and teachers put together the dictionary which includes 13,000 currently used words with 22,000 definitions and an example of how to use each word. Finally a computer was used to analyze each entry for ease of understanding and use for Mexican students. This dictionary goes beyond the Diccionario escolar in that the definitions are more complete yet still written in basic Spanish. I find I want to know more about a word or see an example of how it is used. It is more spendy than the other dictionary but worth the cost for the intermediate beginner.
It wasn’t at Amazon.com when I checked but it was at Abebooks: Dime: Diccionario inicial del espanol de Mexico
The more you depend on your Spanish as you study and read, the faster you will learn Spanish. At first using a unilingual dictionary will seem time consuming but if you stick with it, you will soon see the benefits. Vale la pena!
Filed under: Books