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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO SPANISH DICTIONARY The University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary / Revised Edition / A New Concise Spanish-English and English-Spanish Dictionary of Words and Phrases Basic to the Written and Spoken Languages of Today. Compiled by Carlos Castillo and Otto F. Bond, with the assistance of Barbara M. Garcia, revised by D. Lincoln Canfield. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1972, lxvi + 202 + xiii + 233 pp. The authors of this dictionary claim that it is intended for both anglophones and hispanophones, but they give us subtle and not so subtle hints that the former audience was really what they had in mind: the spine and half title are only in English, the front cover gives more information in English than in Spanish, the English foreward is almost four times longer than the Spanish one, and the Spanish front matter is a third the size of its English counterpart. An improvement claimed over the earlier edition (1948) is that spatial labels for Spanish lexemes are now more accurate. But on what systematic fieldwork have these supposed improvements been made? It is well known that there has never been any large-scale systematic fieldwork in Spanish American dialectology and that all the dictionaries of -ismos are impressionistic. Compilers of such spatial dictionaries (who almost without exception have been oldfashioned prescriptivists with little or no training in linguistics or lexicography) have usually taken the Spanish Academy's dictionary as their guide: if that dictionary does not list a lexeme or sense used in their country, they list it in their own dictionary (of Ecuadorianisms, Peruvianisms, Cubanisms, etc.), without, however, ascertaining whether it has currency elsewhere. These dictionaries of -ismos are then taken at face value by naive compilers of bilingual English and Spanish dictionaries (or of general dictionaries of americanismos) and people's impressions are thus legislated into linguistic fact. Since there are hundreds of spatial labels in this dictionary and I doubt that its compilers based them on systematic fieldwork (or 238 David L. Gold239 else they would have told us so), we may assume that they relied solely on theirs' and others' impressions. If so, they could have at least hidden their subjectivism under a veneer of consistency: esculcar 'to frisk' is labelled "Caribbean, Colombia, Venezuela" in SE section, but "Venezuela, Mexico" in the ES section. Estandardizar and estandarizar are labelled Spanish "Americanism" in one section but "Mexicanism, Central Americanism, Caribbeanism " in the other. Is gendarme used only in Mexico, Venezuela, the Plate region, and Central American (SE) or only in Mexico (ES, s.v. policeman)! Leontina, we are told, is used in "Mexico, the Caribbean, Colombia" (SE) and in "Mexico, Venezuela" (ES, s.v. watch chain). Conchabar 'to hire' is said to be used in "Mexico, South American" (SE) and in "Spanish American" (ES). Manigua 'jungle' is supposedly a "Cubanism" (ES) and a "Caribbeanism" (ES, s.v. jungle). Panqué 'pancake' is supposedly a "Spanish Americanism" (SE) and a "Venezuelanism, Colombianism" (ES). A cada muerte de un obispo and por la muerte de un obispo are labelled "Spanish Americanism" (ES) and "Cubanism, Andism" (SE). There are many more of these discrepancies. For all their boasting about spatial labels, the compilers do not tell the anglophone that certain Spainish words, quite acceptable in certain countries, are "dirty" in other (bicho, coger, huevo, concha). Chiche is glossed merely by 'breast, teat' and the unwary anglophone may thus conclude that this is a word doctors might use with their female patients or farmers might use in speaking of their cows. In point of fact, the word is "obscene" and should have been glossed by 'tit'. Chichona 'large-breasted' is misleading too: the stylistic equivalent is 'stacked'. Use of the label "obscene" (nowhere to be found in this dictionary) and of connotational equivalents would have saved beginning students of Spanish many an embarrassing moment. The compilers do sometimes give connotational equivalents (e.g., chiflado 'cracked, touched' [i.e., 'crazy'], but sometimes they are out of date (was anyone saying touched in 1972 and what about nuts, which was then current?), but most often they give bland equivalents, which convey denotation but no connotation: eso es harina de otro costal 'that is something...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 238-250
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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