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Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Espanola (Spanish Edition) (Spanish) Paperback – June, 2006
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Please note that I say all these things as a non-native speaker of Spanish and primary speaker of English. Maybe if you're a Spaniard or Portugese speaker you'll find a different dictionary more suitable to your needs. But for the native English speaker looking to learn Spanish at an intermediate and advanced level, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE. And believe me, I looked. I tested the RAE and Larousse and countless others. They are fine dictionaries but all pale in comparison to my beloved SALAMANCA.
Once you reach an intermediate level of Spanish, get rid of every bilingual dictionary you own. Read this book and only this book. You will learn so many words simply by reading this dictionary. Bountiful examples are provided, so you are never left wondering how you can use words in everyday sentences. Fortunately the definitions are so precise, though, that these examples aren't really necessary (as they are in so many other poorly-written dictionaries). Also the cross-referencing is very elegantly done: You can take one unknown word and within five minutes build yourself an entire vocabulary lesson.
My only complaint is that by being so comprehensive it's, physically, a bit heavy. But its worth carrying to the cafe while you read El Pais, or leaving on your lap while you watch movies on TVE and miss a word here and there.
You should also own a copy of the University of Chicago English-Spanish dictionary. That way if you find this book too challenging, you can lean on an excellent beginners dictionary until you reach a level suitable for the Salamanca.
If I were dropped from the sky into the Puerta del Sol with only one book, this would be it.
91 stars out of 5