World Book News: Dictionary of Americanisms

El Pais is talking about a new Dictionary of Americanisms (Diccionario de americanismos) published by the AsociaciĆ³n de Academias de la Lengua in Madrid under the direction of Humberto Lopez Morales, secretary general of the academies. Lopez Morales, though now a resident of Madrid, was born in Cuba and lived in Puerto Rico.

Americanisms are a more vexing problem in Spanish — the second most spoken language in the world — than in English. Travelers across the Americas have to learn new words even for simple things like straws, napkins, and avocados as they travel from Mexico to Argentina.

And of course the language is always changing. While dictionaries of Americanisms exist, there has not been a major new work in this area for twenty or thirty years. This book fills that void.

Logging in at 2,500 pages, the dictionary costs 75 euros — about a hundred U.S. dollars — but for those of us who sometimes translate from Latin American Spanish it will be an essential reference to own or at least consult.

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1 Comment

  1. One of my Colombian friends, when she first arrived in Madrid, asked for a ‘tinto’ and was bemused to be given a glass of red wine. In Colombia tinto is cafe solo.
    Not sure that it is a vexing problem; perhaps it is for professional translators. But having said that, I always found that English/Spanish technical dictionaries were hopeless.
    Whatever happened to Spanglish? That was popular in USA a few tears ago.