On October 20, Bloomsbury Academic Press published my first book about Spanish, ¿Por qué? 101 Questions about Spanish. It is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and from various Amazon resellers at a discount. You can also order it directly from Bloomsbury USA or Bloomsbury UK with a 35% discount (use checkout code PQ101, paperback only). If they’ve run out, you can enter your email address to get notified when more copies arrive — however, be forewarned that this didn’t work when I tried it.
You can see a list of the 101 questions here, along with book excerpts including the Preface and some favorite questions/answers.
What makes ¿Por qué? special — or even unique?
- It is both scholarly and friendly, thanks to its Q/A format, informal tone, and no assumptions of previous knowledge of linguistics — or even Spanish.
- The explanations mingle the history of Spanish, linguistic principles, comparisons with other languages, and Hispanic culture.
- It only talks about the most interesting aspects of the Spanish language (in the author’s opinion).
- It includes topics that most books about Spanish ignore, such as first and second language acquisition, Spanish sign language, punctuation, Spanish Pig Latin, and text messaging.
Praise for ¿Por qué?:
- A masterclass in linguistic exposition….All languages need introductions like this one. (David Crystal, University of Wales)
- An engaging, fun, and authoritative tour through the history and structure of the Spanish language. (Michael Weiss, Cornell University)
- Engaging for students and general readers alike. (Christopher J. Pountain, Queen Mary University of London)
- Concise and elegant, yet thorough and well-informed, this treasure of a book by an experienced scholar and teacher will provide students, instructors, and the general public alike with a wonderfully readable set of introductory answers to the questions that lovers of Spanish worldwide have always wondered about. (Ricardo Otheguy, City University of New York)
- “This tour de force will be tremendously engaging and enjoyable for everyone interested in the structure of Spanish. It will appeal to both linguists and laypeople alike, and would be an excellent choice for introductory-level Hispanic Linguistics courses. With her elegant writing style, Hochberg succeeds at making a vast amount of well-researched information highly accessible and genuinely entertaining.” – (Naomi Lapidus Shin, University of New Mexico)
From the back cover:
¿Por qué? 101 Questions about Spanish is for anyone who wants to understand how Spanish really works. Standard textbooks and grammars describe the “what” of Spanish – its vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and pronunciation – but ¿Por qué? explains the “why”.
Judy Hochberg draws on linguistic principles, Hispanic culture, and language history to answer questions such as:
- Why are so many Spanish verbs irregular? • Why does Spanish have different ways to say “you”? • Why is h silent? • Why doesn’t Spanish use apostrophes? • Why does Castilian Spanish have the th sound?
Packed with information, guidance, and links to further research, ¿Por qué? is an accessible study guide that is suitable for Spanish students, instructors, native speakers, and the general reader. It is a valuable supplementary text for serious students of Spanish at all levels, from beginning to advanced. ¿Por qué? also covers topics usually left to specialized books, including the evolution of Spanish, how children and adults learn Spanish, and the status of languages that co-exist with Spanish, from Catalan to Spanish sign language to the indigenous languages of Latin America.
Judy Hochberg has a PhD in linguistics from Stanford University, and teaches Spanish at Fordham University, New York.