Phrasebooks
Collection of ready-made phrases, usually for a foreign language along with a translation
Phrasebooks are works compiling a list of useful words and phrases in a foreign language alongside their translation, used mainly by people travelling abroad. They also provide useful information about the language and culture of the destination area, in order to allow the reader to get by easier in situations that could arise in the destination.
Wikivoyage has dozens of digital phrasebooks that can you can use on the internet, download to your favourite device for offline use, or print onto paper.
Understand
A French-Russian paper phrasebook.
Learning a language can take months or years, but real-world travel plans for leisure or business often don't allow you the necessary time. That's where a phrasebook becomes useful.
Phrasebooks are not grammar guides, dictionaries nor language courses. Rather, they are an aid to help you understand and say specific words and phrases, with a focus on everyday conversation and on scenarios that typically occur during a temporary stay in another country or region. They are usually divided into thematic chapters according to the purpose of communication, such as how to greet someone, how to ask for food, how to buy something, and how to ask for help. Sometimes they can be accompanied by a digital support with audio files to practise pronunciation and ease listening comprehension.
Most phrasebooks include an explanatory guide to the language's writing system, phonology and pronunciation. Some also touch on aspects of the native culture, or include an elementary grammar guide or reference index. A good phrasebook will thus allow you to deal with most common situations that arise during temporary travel, without needing to have an interpreter escort you. Electronic phrasebooks have the additional virtue of being as light and easy to carry as your device.
But if your reason for travelling is for longer-term purposes such as studying, working or retiring abroad, your phrasebook will only get you so far. In these situations, it is best to properly learn the local language.
Prepare
Choosing a suitable phrasebook
Although it's impossible to learn every language, getting a handle on important phrases from about a dozen will take you most places in the world.
First, you have to determine which language you'll be focusing on for your trip; check out the 'Talk' section of the article for your destination country or region. Most likely, the language you'll want a phrasebook for will be the local language (or a variety of that language) spoken in the destination. However, some places have a dominant language that may be non-native or with colonial origins that a large percentage of the local population understands as a second language. Examples of these include Hindi in India, or French in parts of Africa. Such languages are often easier to find complete and useful phrasebooks for, whereas the true native language may be considered "obscure" in your home country. Yet, for a more authentic travel experience, to truly understand the local culture, or if you simply want to leave your comfort zone, it may be better to choose a phrasebook for the local language.
Once you’ve chosen a language, you have to find the most suitable storage format for your phrasebook, according to your trip and destination.
If the place you’re visiting is somewhere a high-speed internet connection is practically taken for granted, it is a good idea to choose the digital format. As long as you have internet, you can access an unlimited number of phrasebooks you want through the device and keep them updated. By contrast, paper books are static and can only become outdated. Digital phrasebooks can even include audio files to practise your listening and speaking skills.
When travelling in countries where the connection is poor, you can still use your device, although it's advisable to download an offline copy of the target phrasebook beforehand. The Kiwix project, a static version of Wikivoyage that can be used offline, is one option.
In very remote destinations without reliable access to power sockets, it is better to bring a phrasebook in paperback format or to print out your digital phrasebook ahead of time.
Practice makes perfect
Before you even leave home, it’s a great idea to read through the phrasebook of your target language. This will allow you to become familiar with its contents and layout, to memorise the most important phrases and to start practising and assimilating the pronunciation, if possible with the help of an audiobook. You’ll also get advance warning of what useful words and phrases are not in the phrasebook, while you still have the opportunity to source additional material.
The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to learn at an effective pace. It’s much easier to memorise five new words a day for a month than it is to learn a whole phrasebook while sitting in departures. The more prepared you are before you arrive in your destination, the lower the chances you’ll find yourself desperately rummaging through your phrasebook while a local impatiently waits for you to say something intelligible.
Language phrasebooks
The following sections list the foreign language phrasebooks that are available on Wikivoyage. For more general information on language and travel, including tips for where few locals speak your language, see Talk.
A few languages are very widely used throughout the world and are listed first. All other languages are listed under the continent where they are most closely identified. If you are not sure which languages are spoken in the country you plan to visit, see the "Talk" section of the article for that country.
Phrasebooks are coded according to their level of completion and overall quality­ as outlined at Phrasebook status:
— stub
— outline
— usable
— guide
— star
World
Arabic (Modern Standard)
Chinese (Mandarin)
French
German
Hindi (or Hindustani)
Indonesian
Malay
Persian (or Farsi)
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish (or Castilian)
Swahili (or Kiswahili)
Africa
Afan Oromo
Afrikaans
Arabic (Modern Standard)
Amharic
Bambara (or Bamanankan)
Berber
Chadian Arabic
Chibemba
Dawro
Dogon
Egyptian Arabic
Ewe
French
Fulfulde
German
Guinea-Bissau Creole
Hausa
Igbo
Krio
Luganda
Malagasy
Mooré
Moroccan Arabic
Nyanja (or Chewa)
Portuguese
Sango
Sesotho
Seychellois Creole
Somali
Spanish
Swahili (or Kiswahili)
Swazi
Tashelhit (or Shilha)
Tigrinya
Tsonga
Tswana
Tumbuka
Tunisian Arabic
Twi
Wolof
Xhosa
Yoruba
Zarma
Zulu
Asia
Ainu
Amdo Tibetan
Arabic (Modern Standard)
Akeanon (or Aklanon)
Assamese
Balinese
Balochi
Bengali (or Bangla)
Bikol (or Central Bikol)
Bumthangkha
Burmese
Burushaski
Cantonese
Capiznon (or Capiceño)
Cebuano (or Bisayan)
Chavacano
Chinese (Mandarin)
Chittagonian
Cocos Malay
Dari
Dhivehi
Dogri
Dzongkha
Filipino (or Tagalog)
French
Gujarati
Hainanese
Hakka
Hebrew
Hiligaynon (or Ilonggo)
Hindi
Iban
Ilocano (or Iluko)
Indonesian
Ivatan
Japanese
Javanese
Jordanian Arabic
Kannada
Kapampangan
Kashmiri
Kayan
Kazakh
Khmer (or Cambodian)
Kinaray-a
Konkani
Korean
Kurdish
Kyrgyz
Ladakhi
Ladino
Lao
Lebanese Arabic
Madurese
Maithili
Majhi
Malay
Malayalam
Manado Malay (or Minahasa Malay)
Manchu
Manipuri (or Meitei)
Marathi
Mindong
Minnan (or Hokkien/Taiwanese)
Mongolian
Nepali
Odia (or Oriya)
Ossetian
Pandan Bikol (or Northern Catanduanes Bikol)
Pangasinan
Pashto (or Pushtu)
Penan
Persian
Portuguese
Punjabi
Rinconada (or Rinconada Bikol)
Russian
Ryukyuan
Sakha
Sanskrit
Saraiki
Sasak
Savji
Shanghainese (or Wu Chinese)
Sharchopkha
Sherpa
Sindhi
Sinhala
Sundanese
Sylheti
Tajik
Tamang
Tamil
Tatar
Tausug (or Bahasa Sūg)
Telugu
Teochew (or Chiuchao)
Tetum
Thai
Thami (or Thangmi)
Tibetan
Tulu
Turkish
Turkmen
Tuvan
Udmurt
Urdu
Uyghur
Uzbek
Vietnamese
Waray
Yaeyama
Yiddish
Yonaguni
Zaza (or Zazaki)
Europe
Abkhaz
Albanian
Arberesh
Armenian
Aromanian
Azerbaijani (or Azeri)
Bashkir
Basque
Belarusian
Bosnian
Breton
Bulgarian
Catalan
Chechen
Circassian
Corsican
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
Dutch Low Saxon
Estonian
Faroese
Finnish
French
Galician
Georgian
German
Greek
Hungarian
Icelandic
Irish
Italian
Kalmyk
Karachay-Balkar
Ladino
Latvian
Lithuanian
Low German
Luxembourgish
Macedonian
Maltese
Manx Gaelic
Montenegrin
Norwegian
Piedmontese
Polish
Portuguese
Provençal
Romanian
Russian
Saami
Samogitian
Scottish Gaelic
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian (or Slovene)
Spanish
Swedish
Swiss-German
Tatar
Turkish
Ukrainian
Welsh
West Frisian
Yiddish
North America
Dutch
French
Greenlandic
Haitian Creole
Inuktitut
Jamaican Patois
Navajo
Papiamento
Spanish
Yiddish
Oceania
Australian Kriol
Bislama
Carolinian
Chamorro (or Chamoru)
Chinese (Mandarin)
Cocos Malay
Eastern Arrernte
Fijian
French
Hawaiian
Māori
Malay
Marshallese
Nauruan
Niuean
Norfuk/Pitkern
Pijin (Solomon Islands Pidgin)
Samoan
Spanish
Tahitian
Tetum
Tiwi
Tokelauan
Tok Pisin (or New Guinea Pidgin)
Tongan
Torres Strait Creole
Yolŋu
South America
Brazilian Portuguese
Dutch
French
Quechua
Sranan
Spanish
Yiddish
Other phrasebooks
Special purpose
Some special purpose lists of phrases are also available.
Hitchhiking phrasebook
Scriptbooks
These special "phrasebooks" are for people interested in learning to read or write a complex script.
Learning Devanagari
See also
Australian slang
Last edited on 22 January 2022, at 18:15
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