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  • En otras palabras: Perfeccionamiento del español por medio de la traducción by Patricia V. Lunn, Ernest J. Lunsford
  • Timothy L. Face
En otras palabras: Perfeccionamiento del español por medio de la traducción. By Patricia V. Lunn and Ernest J. Lunsford. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2003. Pp. xiv, 138. ISBN 0878401334. $22.50.

While En otras palabras deals with the art of translation, it is not designed for the training of professional translators. Rather, Lunn and Lunsford use translation as a tool to teach students to recognize the linguistic options at their disposal when using Spanish and to make appropriate choices between those options. While linguistics is certainly a part of the book’s content, it can be characterized as an advanced grammar text that incorporates both linguistic knowledge (especially sociolinguistics) and cultural knowledge into the training it provides in Spanish language use.

The text is divided into two parts. The first is organized around grammatical concepts, as grammatical structure provides the building blocks for all texts. After an introductory chapter on dictionary usage, Part 1 contains six chapters that cover different types of text and present advanced grammatical structures with which even advanced students struggle. The second part is organized around content themes. Following an introductory chapter on the lexicon, Part 2 contains six chapters dedicated to the language of advertising, business, medicine, sports, law, and computers. The focus is on the lexical and grammatical variation in the Spanish language and determining the appropriate words and structures to use in a specific context and for a specific purpose.

Each chapter of the book, in addition to addressing particular grammatical structures or thematic vocabulary, contains grammar and vocabulary exercises, application exercises, and multiple texts to be translated by the student. In each chapter, some of the texts are written in English, to be translated into Spanish, and others are written in Spanish, to be translated into English. Translating into English first involves coming to a true understanding of the Spanish text, which is often difficult for students who have learned the skill of scanning for overall meaning even if they do not understand particular words or structures. Upon coming to an understanding of the text, students will realize that there are multiple possible translations and must learn to determine the appropriateness of each. In translating into Spanish, students generally have a full understanding of the English text, but encounter the limitations of their Spanish language abilities, needing to overcome these, rather than employing the skill of circumlocution, in order to produce an accurate translation.

This book provides a different approach to the perfection of students’ Spanish language skills. Unlike a traditional grammar text, it takes full advantage of students’ desire to use the language, makes full use of their knowledge of their native language, incorporates both linguistic and cultural information, and has clearly practical applications of the knowledge acquired. While this text will certainly prove challenging to students, it is a welcome and fun approach to learning the evasive details of the Spanish language.

Timothy L. Face
University of Minnesota


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