San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Loss for Words? Tico Authors Niche Titles

Dictionaries are not the most pressing concern in the world – unless, of course, you really need to find an accurate Spanish translation for “variable income security,” or “pseudostem aspect.”

Fortunately for you, a quizzical-looking Tico wearing glasses and carrying a little brief case has been slaving away for most of his career, noodling out translations for a series of niche dictionaries that are printed locally and hit a sweet spot for certain technical professionals.

Gerardo Barboza, the brains behind A.G.R. Publishing’s series of half a dozen niche dictionaries, said he spends several years of research on each title.

“It starts with a simple question from a student,” he said. “‘Gerardo, how do you say “stock” in Spanish?’”

The answer to that question – acción or valor – can be found in “Stock Market & Investment: Related terms and Expressions,” published first in 2001 and revised in 2006.

The latest in his series, “Banana Industry: Related Terms and Expressions,” just came out, and if you really did need to translate “psuedostem aspect” you could find the answer on page 116: aspecto de pseudotallo.

Barboza said he has always intended the dictionaries to be useful in size and style – booklets, almost, that sit on desks and get well thumbed. The dictionaries are about the size of a small paperback, and the entries are as brief as possible.

Some have multiple suggestions for an English or Spanish translation, but the reference books shed the trappings of academia, leaving out usage and pronunciation.

The decision to publish the books in the small, easy-to-use format has paid off.

Barboza said A.G.R.’s most important clients are big companies, like Costa Rica’s National Stock Exchange, that order a print run of special editions to hand out to clients.

“It’s better than a mug or pens,” Barboza said.

Other titles written by Barboza and printed by A.G.R. include “Sales: Related Terms and Expressions” and “Terminos y Expresiones en Seguros,” or insurance terms.

The company has sold about 9,0000 of the little dictionaries, Barboza said, mostly through bulk sales.

“I’ve tried to approach them in a more standard, universal English and Spanish,” said Barboza, a career educator who holds a master’s degree in education.

Barboza said the continuing globalization of Costa Rica is increasing demand for his niche titles. Next in line, he said, are dictionaries on terms for the coffee and credit card industries.

“You try to find these titles and they don’t exist, they’re not there,” he said.

To Go Buy the Book

The specialized business dictionaries are not available in bookstores.

But if you need a copy, send an e-mail to

The books run between $20 and $28, with discounts for bulk purchases.


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