Learning Spanish Words Through Etymology and Mnemonics
A New Approach to Vocabulary Study

Learning Spanish Words Through Etymology and Mnemonics makes use of etymology to help you remember Spanish words, and failing that, suggests a mnemonic. Combination of these two approaches in one book separates it from other books on the market. The amount and depth of etymology is carefully chosen to be practical and not overwhelm an average reader. The suggested mnemonics aim to help an educated English-speaking person. An adult or young adult who likes learning vocabulary with some word analysis instead of rote memory will find this book to be helpful and a joy to read. With about 3000 words selected from 15000 in the Real Academia Española corpus sorted in frequency order, this booklet can be used either as a dictionary or for leisure reading. The hint provided for each word is particularly helpful for short-term memory needed in taking an exam, while the etymological and cultural information will serve you for years to come.

"Yong Huang offers in the introduction a clear and detailed explanation of the methodology employed throughout the work, which presents a practical balance between scholarly research and light reading... Yong’s work is an important addition to the field of language study, and will be a welcome supplement to anyone’s vocabulary-building tools."
Edward A. Roberts
Professor Emeritus of Central Michigan University, author of A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Spanish Language

"(Yong Huang's book) filled a niche on my language-learning bookshelf I hadn't even thought of before... the system works as an efficient road map to boosting vocabulary by steering readers directly to the most effective words for building understanding and fluency fast, while pointing out shortcuts and possible pitfalls along the way. It's especially useful for well-read adults and polyglots."
Miranda Metheny
Spanish Teacher at District of Columbia Public Schools, polyglot, volunteer admin of Facebook Polyglots group

Method Summary

Etymology ⎤
               ⎡ Word analysis <-⎢           ⎥-> this book (Learning Spanish Words through Etymology and Mnemonics)
               ⎢                 ⎣ MnemonicsStudy method <-⎢
               ⎣ Rote memory (e.g. flash cards)


Sample Chapters and Pages

(The main text of this little dictionary arranges the words in the order of their usage frequency per Real Academia Española corpus, with index at the end of the book. Cognates serve as the most important learning aid.)

More Preview

Google Books (not searchable)


Major: Amazon Kindle edition if read on its online cloudreader loses all bold font style; all headwords are in plain font. And the book is not searchable at this time. Reading it offline with Kindle reading app solves both problems.

Minor (ignore page numbers if using eBook)

Suggestions and Updates (ignore page numbers if using eBook)

Author Biography and Contact

I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and M.A. in Philosophy. I have taught myself linguistics with an emphasis on morphological and phonological changes in the history of Romance languages, and have learned to read in multiple European languages. Please contact me by email to yong321@yahoo.com or by filling the form with comments or corrections.


Amazon (where most readers' reviews are)
Goodreads (reader Marina wrote an excellent and well-balanced review: "It may be more useful to a first-time language learner who has no experience with Latin, French or Italian... I'm finding this book fun enough that I'm reluctant to skip anything")
Barnes and Noble
Learning French Words Through Etymology and Mnemonics (to be available in 2018)

Q & A

How long did it take to write this book?
One year.
How was the time divided in writing it?
About 40% on etymology, 40% on mnemonics, 20% on the history of morphology and phonology. Nowadays etymology is easy due to other people's work. Mnemonics took longer than expected because it was completely original.
Who would read the book?
Some people prefer to memorize words with some analysis instead of simple repeated drills. This book will save them time in looking up etymology or thinking of mnemonic hints.
Any incentive to write it?
For me personally, not really any incentive. Writing the book was a joy. Imagine the moment of coming up with a perfect mnemonic for a difficult word.
What's good about the publisher?
The people at Xlibris are courteous, professional, and quite responsive. The company seems to be running efficiently.
What's bad?
Royalty for the writer is not high (18% of net sales for paperbacks and 50% for ebooks). And they can't handle at least one simple technical problem: all words starting with a letter with a diacritical mark lose font style, i.e. not italic or bold as in my submitted manuscript. So I have to find them all and tell them to correct manually. From the Minor errors above, you see some were still missed.
How was the index created?
Used a VBA script found on the Internet, modified it, combined it with text editing in vi and data processing in a database. Could have done it all in VBA if I were an expert at it.
Will the book be free?
Not for now or in the near future. Sorry.

Yong Huang
Jan 2015 — March 2017