Learning Spanish Words Through Etymology and Mnemonics (2nd ed)

This book was initially published in 2016. As of October 2020, I have added about two hundred new headwords to this second edition, for now mostly selected from The Usborne First Thousand Words in Spanish and atached to Appendix 1, some incorporated into the main body of the book in their appropriate frequency locations. Doing this is necessary because the few thousand words selected from the RAE (Real Academia Española, Royal Spanish Academy) word frequency list, which this book is mainly based on, are not sufficient due to inherent inadequacy of any single frequency list. Further revision is ongoing and will include other word lists.

In addition to adding words, major work is done to revise existing entries, not merely correcting errors. (Some of these revisions are documented in the Suggestions and Updates section on the main page.) Many helpful hints and mnemonics are added, sense development is better described, and etymology re-examined. With extensive use of more references including the Origen de las palabras website and E. Roberts' Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Spanish Language, word origins and their connections to modern meanings and English cognates are significantly improved. As to mnemonics, in practice, I find that a mnemonic hint built for the beginning part of a word has more reminiscent power or is generally more helpful if one built for the whole word is not readily available, and that a barely related but dramatic scene often serves our purpose equally well or even better in certain cases (see e.g. the mnemonic in the entry for corral), an idea credited to Harry Lorayne et al.'s The Memory Book and Dominic O’Brien's How to Pass Exams.

A new area to explore is to explain different conjugation forms of irregular verbs. Etymological dictionaries rarely deal with this issue. (English dictionaries do a better job, especially in cases of suppletion where a different word serves as a conjugated form.) An example of this work is in the explanation of various forms of soler (see the sample page). This work is ongoing and requires more research on the morphological changes in history.

I have received requests for this edition from some readers. While this new edition will remain unpublished indefinitely, I decide to make it available on a donation basis. With a $10 or more donation through Venmo, Zelle or Quickpay, Paypal or by other means, you will receive a copy of the manuscript in PDF format, on the condition that the received copy is only shared within your immediate family, never beyond that. (I sincerely trust your honesty in honoring this restriction.) And in the future, you will receive an indexed, updated, version of the book at the end of every year for free.

Contact me by email to yong321@yahoo.com or by filling the form with comments or suggestions.

Yong Huang
Aug 2020 — Nov 2020

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