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A History of the Spanish Language 2nd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521011846
ISBN-10: 0521011841
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Both recent books by Ralph Penny make significant contributions to our knowledge of the history and development of the Spanish language." Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies Bulletin

Book Description

This is a thoroughly revised, updated and expanded edition of Ralph Penny's authoritative textbook, first published in 1991. As well as adding insights from recent scholarship throughout the text, Professor Penny has added a new chapter which discusses the nature of linguistic history, the concept of World Spanish, processes of convergence and divergence in Spanish, and the English/Spanish interface. This edition also contains a glossary of technical terms, guidance on further reading, and suggested topics for discussion.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (October 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521011841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521011846
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is extremely complete and quite well written. In the introduction we find some general observations on the nature of linguistic studies, consideration of the various peoples who have contributed to the make-up of what we know as modern Spanish, and other "humanistic" considerations. The phonology section covers all kinds of historical change (this is the section that held most interest for me). Under morphology and syntax there are a bunch of things that, as I read them, I felt like kicking myself because they had never occurred to me. The part on the lexicon is vastly instructive, with discussions of borrowings as well as changes that have taken place over time in the Latin sub-stratum of the vocabulary. There is a final part on semantics, and the author himself suggests that it may be weakest section: any discussion of the semantic development of a language is "is inevitably incomplete and is likely to be at least partially inaccurate." But here the fault is not the author's. Actually, he does and excellent job of telling what there is of the semantics story.
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I am using this textbook in graduate level History of the Spanish Language/Linguistics class. I really like the book, but it is very technical. It is not an easy read. The language is complex and specific. A extensive knowledge of Latin would be beneficial, but it is not required. The book is full of excellent and accurate information. Penny is a very techinical and intelligent author. He portrays the rich and expansive history of the Spanish language in an eloquent and detailed way. This is not an easy book to pick up, but it teaches so much about the language. It is a worthwhile read. An excellent book!
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Format: Paperback
This book delivers exactly what it promises--a thorough, well-written account of the development of modern Spanish. I espcially like the connections it makes with Latin and Arabic roots.
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Format: Paperback
As a High School Spanish instructor with half a master's degree in linguistics and a full master's in educational administration I must say that this book is one of the best references I've seen in a long time! It gives a good detailed background of where the Spanish language came from as well as all of the linguistic aspects of the language historically. Highly recommended to be used as a reference. It really helps to put the "why" into what we teach.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book that discusses the evolution of the Spanish language from its Latin and Iberian origins until its present state. It contains the following chapters:

1. Introduction
2. Phonology
3. Morpho-syntax
4. Lexis
5. Semantics
6. Past, Present & Future

You must be warned that this book is very detailed. It uses very technical and linguistic terminology. To read a less technical book about the history of the Spanish language, I recommend "El Espanol y su evolucion."

Brandon Simpson
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Penny's history of the Spanish language is a useful guide if, and only if, you have an extensive theoretical knowledge of the Spanish language. If I had not taken phonetics and linguistics as an undergraduate, I would have been lost by the time chapter two rolled around. Even so, I have never taken Latin, and would have liked a brief introduction to Latin pronunciation, which would have helped my appreciation of the phonological change immensely.
I am only saying all of this to emphasize that a casual reader interested in the formation of the Spanish language might feel disappointed with this book, as it is an internal (rather than an external) history of the language. That is to say, it is almost exclusively a linguistic history of the language, not a cultural one.
That being said, if you have this previous knowledge, this history manages to be both very detailed and reasonably concise. Even so, due to its highly technical nature, chapters two and three (phonology and morpho-syntax, respectively) may require several readings for full comprehension. This also leads to a major improvement found in the second edition of the text: a glossary on technical terms used throughout. I originally read this in the first edition, which does not have said glossary, and often found myself irritated by the extensive, unexplained linguistic jargon.
Even so, I still have one major complaint about the text, primarily concerned with word definitions in modern Spanish. Throughout the book, Penny shows certain words that have evolved from one language or another into Spanish, as well as a definition of that word. However, it seems he oftentimes only translates the original meaning of the word, rather than giving its definition in modern, spoken Spanish, which seems a bit misleading.
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