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Ladino-English / English-Ladino Concise Encyclopedic Dictionary (Judeo-Spanish) [Paperback]

Elli Kohen , Dahlia Kohen-Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1999 0781806585 978-0781806589
This unique book is the first Ladino dictionary for English speakers! Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish or Judezmo, was the language spoken by the Sephardic Jews who settled in the Ottoman Empire after their expulsion from Spain in the 15th century. Definitions include word origins, the cultural context of expressions, and usage, making the book an invaluable reference tool for anyone interested in Romance and Oriental languages and/or Jewish culture.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering home Feb. 5 2000
Format:Paperback
It is amazing to find out that something I thought was so distant (the Sefardic culture) returned so clear and present when going through this Kohen's (Elli and Dahlia) masterpiece. All the words that I looked for, (which are part of my childhood, since it was the language mostly spoken at home), were easily found and explained. Expressions, proverbs and popular sayings are unseparable parts of the Sefardic culture and way of being. The authors have exactly caught the spirit.The book is not only a dictionary, but a very interesting source of research that has given me many hours of enchantement. Mashallah!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not everything I expect in a dictionary June 5 2002
Format:Paperback
As a Ladino novice (with a good background in Spanish), I hoped this dictionary would help me gain the skills I need to understand and compose messages in an online Ladino e-mail group. I was somewhat disappointed to find that many Ladino words encountered in everyday writing are not included, but I understand that this is a problem inherent in all but the most comprehensive dictionaries. More seriously, the English-Ladino section is only about one third the size of the Ladino-English section. My biggest complaint is the absence of a language synopsis, showing the forms of personal pronouns and the conjugation of irregular (or even regular) verbs. Instead, a few of the verb inflections are included in the body of the dictionary, but this is very hit-and-miss. For example, in the E-L section we see that BE is SER or ESTAR (with no explanation of the difference between those two), but in the L-E section I could find ES (with no explanation that it is part of SER), SOMOS, and SON, but not the other parts of the present indicative active of SER.
Most of the entries have only one- or two-word definitions, but for some of the uniquely Ladino words an extended definition provides a nice window into Sephardic culture. I get the impression that the authors provided such definitions for topics that specifically interested them.
I was particularly delighted by the list of Ladino proverbs. Overall, the dictionary is helpful and well worth the money. Still, if I had been able to find a better Ladino/English dictionary, I probably would have given this one only two stars.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not everything I expect in a dictionary June 5 2002
By Peter R. Chastain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a Ladino novice (with a good background in Spanish), I hoped this dictionary would help me gain the skills I need to understand and compose messages in an online Ladino e-mail group. I was somewhat disappointed to find that many Ladino words encountered in everyday writing are not included, but I understand that this is a problem inherent in all but the most comprehensive dictionaries. More seriously, the English-Ladino section is only about one third the size of the Ladino-English section. My biggest complaint is the absence of a language synopsis, showing the forms of personal pronouns and the conjugation of irregular (or even regular) verbs. Instead, a few of the verb inflections are included in the body of the dictionary, but this is very hit-and-miss. For example, in the E-L section we see that BE is SER or ESTAR (with no explanation of the difference between those two), but in the L-E section I could find ES (with no explanation that it is part of SER), SOMOS, and SON, but not the other parts of the present indicative active of SER.
Most of the entries have only one- or two-word definitions, but for some of the uniquely Ladino words an extended definition provides a nice window into Sephardic culture. I get the impression that the authors provided such definitions for topics that specifically interested them.
I was particularly delighted by the list of Ladino proverbs. Overall, the dictionary is helpful and well worth the money. Still, if I had been able to find a better Ladino/English dictionary, I probably would have given this one only two stars.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lexicon, maybe . . but not a true dictionary Jan. 10 2006
By K. D. Jablon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Buy this book because there isn't much competition for it, but it is one sorry excuse for a dictionary. Compare this to the Weinreich Yiddish dictionary (six stars out of five!) for usefulness

Defects:

* Almost random spelling, no consistent system of orthography is applied e.g. `ch' is used for both 'ch' as in choose and 'sh' as in sheep.

* No guide to pronunciation, neither at the beginning, nor (but more glaringly lacking) with the entries.

* Accentuation is random.

* Random missing entries - terms used in quotations often lack corresponding entries

* No cross referencing of entries, no relationship between variants, whether just spelling e.g. casa / caza / kaza or variation in pronunciation e.g. esfuegra / sfuegra / suegra.

* Zero grammatical information

* No verb conjugation tables

* No entries for unpredictable word forms such as irregular verb forms or plurals

Pluses

* Lots of interesting vocabulary

* The proverbs

I can only hope that these defects may be addressed in a future edition.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering home Feb. 5 2000
By Renato Gueron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is amazing to find out that something I thought was so distant (the Sefardic culture) returned so clear and present when going through this Kohen's (Elli and Dahlia) masterpiece. All the words that I looked for, (which are part of my childhood, since it was the language mostly spoken at home), were easily found and explained. Expressions, proverbs and popular sayings are unseparable parts of the Sefardic culture and way of being. The authors have exactly caught the spirit.The book is not only a dictionary, but a very interesting source of research that has given me many hours of enchantement. Mashallah!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice curio but not that useful for learners June 6 2008
By Shayn Mccallum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fun, enjoyable book to browse through but, as a tool for learners of Ladino, or anyone with more than a bit of passing curiosity, it's likely to prove frustrating and virtually useless.
Ladino is, in fact, in worse shape than Yiddish. Very few Sefardim under the age of 60 now have much knowledge of Cudezmo (also spelt Djudezmo and Judezmo)here in Turkey. As a result, the authors probably assumed that this book would be used more as a toy for the curious- after all, who wants to learn a moribund language?
The truth is however, that there are people who might like to get some deeper acquaintaince with this language and, to assist this section of the book's potential customer base, it might have been nice to have done some of the following:
1)Give the spelling of words in Hebrew script. Transliterated Ladino is a late-comer that only became widespread at the point of its virtual demise i.e. the advent of the Turkish Republic when the language largely retreated before Turkish. When Atatürk decided to romanise Turkish, several Jewish communities began using the same letters to write Ladino, and this is still the practice in the back pages of "Shalom" the Istanbul Jewish community newspaper, which are still written in romanised Ladino. The confusion with different spellings that cause so much frustration in this dictionary stem from different approaches adopted by different communities who chose to align themselves with Modern-Turkish, French or Modern Spanish spelling conventions in the 1920's. By all means, give the common Romanised spellings of lexical items, but please, also include the traditional Hebrew script version as well.
2.) Rather than just randomly compiling words and phrases from various communities and historical periods with no notes on usage or origin, please spell out the origin and use of lexis. It is useful to know that a given word is used only in Salonika or Izmir or that a particular phrase is indigenous to Sofia or Istanbul. Moreover, if an item is "high Ladino" or "street Cudezmo" it would be nice to know that too.
3.) Take care to check and cross-reference words and phrases adopted directly from other languages such as Turkish and Greek. I suspect the authors may have left Turkey at a young age as many of the Turkish lexis are both misspelled and/or incorrectly translated. Naturally, some of this confusion comes from the fact that, until the Republic, many Sefardim were not, in fact, fluent in Turkish and may have heard things wrong. Where possible however, it would be nice to note this for the user's benefit.
Having said all that, I did, after all, rather enjoy this dictionary. I am one of the passingly-interested "browsers" interested in its curio value as, in fact, anyone knowing Spanish, Hebrew and Turkish can more or less follow written and spoken Ladino without much trouble.
In short, only buy this dictionary if you are just looking for a fun book to flip the pages of on a rainy day but don't imagine it will help you become fluent.
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mediocre book Feb. 13 2014
By Bob Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a Ladino learner, I fully understand that there are multiple dialects in this language. However, I found this book to be very disjointed and disorganized. For example, each entry provides several definitions. The authors would have done their audience a better service if they would have, at least, provided the region where that particular word originates. Ostensibly, one is faced with a hodge podge of words from Monistir, Rhodes, Salonika and Istanbul without any guidance. In short, considering the severe shortage of materials on Ladino, this book is "better than nothing."
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