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Cassell's Colloquial Spanish: A Handbook of Idiomatic Usage (Including Latin-American Spanish) Paperback – March 1, 1981

ISBN-13: 078-5555054707 ISBN-10: 0020794304 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Collier Books / Macmillan; 1 edition (March 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020794304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020794301
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,547,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
Gerrard has done a tremendous service to English speakers who are passionate about learning Spanish.
David Edwards
This book is really beyond praise -- one of the most enjoyable and yet edifying books I have ever read.
John P. Rickert
I love this book and I highly recommend it, especially for more serious or advanced Spanish students.
Scott A Shell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By erugifog on October 28, 2000
I can't say enough good things about this little gem. It's an outstanding reference book. The author's mastery of Spanish is rather humbling, but he is able to convey a great deal of knowledge using a writing style that is both relaxed and very enjoyable to read.
This book is a sort of Spanish-to-English dictionary, but it doesn't simply list English equivalents of a Spanish word the way a regular bilingual dictionary does. It goes into a discussion of the word in question and explains the little nuances and shades in meaning in a way that most dictionaries never come close to doing. The definitions given include examples and anecdotes that put the words in context to help the reader better grasp their meaning. When necessary, the author is always careful to point out the various meanings a particular word might have in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Further, the author is not afraid to list "off-color" or vulgar words in an attempt to save the reader from unwittingly making a fool of him or herself by using the wrong word in the wrong part of the world.
My only "complaint" is that this book isn't even longer and more exhaustive than it is (it's 303 pages), although the book's relative brevity makes it easier to completely read and digest. Still, a second volume that picks up where this one leaves off would be wonderful to have.
I've lived in South America and have a four-year college degree in Spanish, yet I still learn something new (or relearn something I've forgotten) every time I pick up this book. Students of all ability levels from beginning to very advanced will benefit from this work.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rickert on November 25, 1999
This book is really beyond praise -- one of the most enjoyable and yet edifying books I have ever read. You can see clearly that the author has a real knowledge of the whole Spanish-speaking world, from Spain to Tierra del Fuego. (This is one reason why this book is considerably better than Keenan's book, which focuses on Mexican usage almost exclusively.) In addition to sound advice about False, Unreliable, and Good Friends, (words that appear similar in Spanish and English but whose meanings may or may not be the same) he has some absolutely fascinating tidbits of information: e.g., -barra- in music means the vertical bar-line; what we call a musical bar or measure is compás. Speaking of bars, I think he's had a few nights out with these -hispanohablantes-, and thus he understands the culture in a familiar and deeply amicable way. He has a fine sense of humor and insight. I read the book cover to cover and recommend the same without reservation.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By John G. Strong on May 20, 2000
It's kind of hard to review a book when you are speechless with admiration. In the US we don't have much of a culture of foreign language learning, so we fail to appreciate the importance of vocabulary. I read a remark by Hemingway once to the effect that when he decided to tackle Spanish he bought a dictionary and began to read, so it lead me to try an experiment. I took a bilingual dictionary and started to read the *English* side and I soon discovered that there was hardly a single English phrase in the entire dictionary (bilingual dictionaries have less vocabulary than a big monolingual dictionaries, naturally) that one would not expect a fluent English speaker to know. This was frightening, because it implied that a fluent Spanish speaker would probably know all the words and idioms on the Spanish side! So how should a native English speaker, who wishes to become fluent in Spanish, make a serious effort at expanding his vocabulary in Spanish? The problem with reading a bilingual dictionary (a la Hemingway) is that such dictionaries are notoriously inaccurate and are virtually completely devoid of contextual information that would serve to illustrate how words are actually used. It would be an exaggeration to say that Bryson's book fills the entire gap; it's too small for that, but it does fill quite a few gaping holes, and it is beautifully written with a lot of amusing anecdotes that help one *remember* what is being taught. He has also changed the way I think about language. His book has taught me, among other things, to always look for English cognates as a means of alerting myself to how Spanish speakers use different metaphors than English speakers to express similar concepts.Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David Edwards on July 15, 2005
In an earlier commentary about this book, a reviewer wondered how a $7 paperback could be going for upwards of $140. Well, the answer is: scarcity. This is where you have to be careful. The book listed under the title "Cassell's Colloquial Spanish" is said to be the third revised edition, published in 1981. That edition is indeed quite rare, which accounts for its fetching big bucks. However, that's not the end of the story. A couple of other reviewers lamented that there isn't an updated version of this book. It turns out there is, but with a different subtitle.

Which leads me to my story. After seeing the book offered from one of the online sellers at a "bargain basement" (compared to all the others, that is) price, I ordered what I thought to be the 1981 edition. When the book arrived, though, I noticed some differences from the picture and publication info I'd seen at Amazon. So I went back and compared ISBN numbers. The book I'd ordered was not the 1981 edition; the ISBN number for that one is 0020794304. The ISBN number on the one I received is 030407943X. Confused, I typed in that number and was startled by the result. The title of the book with that ISBN number was listed as "Spanish Colloquial", and no author's name was listed anywhere (BTW, Amazon has corrected the title and added the author's name). What's more, the publisher was listed as Orion Publishing Company, not Cassell's. The particularly strange thing about that is the name Orion appears nowhere in the book I have, while the name Cassell's appears several times (I found out later that Orion owned the printing rights to the Cassell's line for several years, but no longer). In addition, the book's cataloging info indicates that the 1981 edition was reprinted three times: 1985, 1988 and 1993.
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