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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A phrase book is a collection of ready-made phrases, usually for a foreign language along with a translation, indexed and often in the form of questions and answers.



While mostly thematically structured into several chapters like interpersonal relationships, food, at the doctor, shopping etc., a phrase book often contains useful background information regarding the travel destination's culture, customs and conventions besides simple pronunciation guidelines and a typically 1000–2000 words covering vocabulary. Also a concise grammar and an index intended for quickly finding a particular context are common. In general a phrase book features high clarity and a practical, sometimes color-coded structuring with the main purpose to enable its user to communicate in a quick and easy though very basic manner. Especially with this in mind a phrase book occasionally also provides several possible answers for a given question, in order to enable the asked counterpart to respond in some degree by simply finger pointing at one of the answers. Additional audio material is often intended to benefit pronunciation and understanding competence. This kind of phrase books is often referred to as talking phrase book or voice translator.


The British comedian group Monty Python featured a phrase book containing wrong translations in two of their sketches. [1] [2] The expression "My postillion has been struck by lightning", supposedly included in some phrasebooks, is used to describe some of the less likely to be useful phrases found in some books.

The absence of vocabulary related to mental illness in commonly available phrase books has been examined by Mac Suibhne and Ni Chorcorain who surveyed a range of phrase books.[3] All the books surveyed had sections on health: 12% (n=3) had vocabulary for depression and 40% (n=10) had vocabulary for anxiety disorders. Two of the publishers had produced phrase books which contained a word for ‘anxious’ in the general dictionary, without any cultural context, 16% (n=4) had a (context-free) expression for ‘I feel strange,’ but none had a word for ‘psychosis’ or stated how to say ‘I have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.’ The authors suggested that collaboration between psychiatrists and publishers could achieve appropriate ways of rectifying this situation.


  1. ^ Monty Python Sketch: Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook
  2. ^ Monty Python Sketch: Court (phrasebook)
  3. ^ Mac Suibhne, S. Ni Chorcorain A (2008). "W‘I wish to speak to a psychiatrist, please’: psychiatric vocabulary in phrase books". Psychiatric Bulletin 32: 336.  

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to List of phrasebooks article)

From Wikitravel

This page lists the phrasebooks currently available on Wikitravel. If you need a phrasebook for a language not listed here, try adding it to the Requests for phrasebooks page. Phrasebook development is organized through the Phrasebook Expedition.


"Complete" here means simply that the standard template has been fully translated, but there may still be much room for improvement!


These guides have enough content to be useful, but there's still lots of room for improvement. These guides have at least a full pronunciation guide and the first big section of phrases filled out.


The following phrasebooks are incomplete. They have been templated, but still have parts untranslated. Please help contribute if you speak the language in question.


These phrasebooks have little or no content, or are just lists of random phrases. They should be converted to use the standard template.


These special "phrasebooks" are for people interested in learning to read or write a complex script.

In other languages

These phrasebooks are available in French but not English. Plunge forward and translate them!

  • Corsican phrasebook
  • Dogon phrasebook
  • Esperanto phrasebook
  • Malagasy phrasebook
  • Shimaore phrasebook
  • Songhay phrasebook

Some new and featured phrasebooks appear on the Main Page.


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