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Talk:Phrasebook International

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I'm not entirely convinced that this listing is useful...? A universal sign language phrasebook would be interesting though! Jpatokal 22:14, 29 November 2006 (EST)

I agree... I'm not sure how "international" some terms are or how useful this list could be. Maj 22:24, 29 November 2006 (EST)

I traveled several times to countries where knowledge or usage of English is really rare: like some distant regions in Morocco and Croatia. Of course you always try to use as simple English as possible (which maybe even worth a separate article), but when you're stuck every other time explaining with signs what do mean, words like this really help--and would help more if I have more of them in mind. Of course, the list would be better organized into groups by occasion/subject, but it's bit early with only 2 dozens we have right now. So please plunge forward and add what seem to be missing in the row. --DenisYurkin 14:02, 30 November 2006 (EST)

I'm really leaning towards a vfd here. I mean, is it just going to be a list of English words that some people might understand in some other countries? Maybe there could be a more general topic about getting by when you don't speak the local language? Maj 14:53, 30 November 2006 (EST)
The aim is: a) not necessary English words; in most other countries.
Do you see what that topic should look like, and whether there's a place for these words? --DenisYurkin 15:56, 30 November 2006 (EST)
I guess I just don't get it... words like "virage" (and what's GSM stand for?) don't seem very "international" to me... Maj 21:10, 13 December 2006 (EST)
I encountered virage in Morocco where a native tried to find most international words out of his French (as we spoke only English). I put it here because virage is also used in Russian with the same meaning; if these are the only 2 languages where it can be understand, probably it shouldn't be here.
GSM is a standard for mobile phones used in most of Europe; the same name is used across languages, as everyone understands GSM while mobile phone may be called differenly in different languages.
What if we provide list of languages (countries?) for each word where it is known to be well-understood? It will complicate the list a bit, but can make it more reliable. --DenisYurkin 09:40, 14 December 2006 (EST)

I just can't see how to turn this into something useful. Take an item from the list such as "chips", for example: It's a word that isn't mutually understood even among anglophones; in London it means "french fries" and in Chicago it means "potato crisps", and I have no idea which meaning it might have in Kyoto. There are several words here that I don't even know what they mean in English, let alone any other language. This article seems to be based on the same (IMHO faulty) assumption that Esperanto is based on: that human languages are similar enough for a useful mutually intelligible subset. In my experience, if you don't have a common language with someone, once you get beyond "yes", "no", "okay", and "Coca-Cola", playing Charades is more effective. - Todd VerBeek 19:19, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

There are a few words that seem to be international. "Hello", "OK" and "bye-bye" are used in Chinese, for example. Things like "CD" and "DVD" are also understood in China. "GSM" is likely in the same class, though I have not encountered it. "WC" for toilet seems to be used everywhere except the English-speaking countries.
There are also other loan words; I have heard "battery" in one of the South Indian languages. Some loanwords might be similar across a range of languages. The Chinese for "sauna" and "mango", for example, sound much like the English words, presumably because both were borrowed from other languages.
Beyond that, though, I think the premise of this article is ludicrous. There just is not a useful "international language" to be documented here. I'd say scrap this article. Pashley 20:11, 11 June 2007 (EDT)
A "Charades phrasebook" might be interesting and viable though. There are quite a few things you can express with gestures, not all of them obvious (eg. drawing a square in the air to ask for a menu in a restaurant). Jpatokal 23:43, 11 June 2007 (EDT)
Scrap the article seems right to me. The 'word list' is a joke. Apartments, bikini, penthouse (?), microwave, expedition, catastrothe (definitely not understood in New York!), are not even remotely understandable in most non-English speaking countries. I count 13 words as having the potential for being generally understood when used in a tourism context. But, that's about it.--Wandering 16:35, 24 July 2007 (EDT)


I sorta like Jani's proposal if we can find a way to make it work, something like this, just written better;
    • Overnight train Hold your two hands together and lean your head on them like a pillow, and briefly close your eyes.
    • Day train Croutch down slightly on a flat hand (does not work well with suggestive clothing)
    • Upper bunk Hold your hands horizontal, parallel one above the other, and move your upper hand slightly (reverse for lower bunk)
    • Soft sleeper Hold your hands horizontally together and move them slightly up and down, like a spring.
    • Hard sleeper hold one hand horizontal, and clap the other hand hard down onto it (something solid)
    • Tomorrow do two circles with your finger around your watch.
    • Today Point at your watch while looking the clerk.
    • One way Move your index finger in a line in front of you, then fold out your hand vertically and do a karate chop to symbolise a stop.
    • Return Move your index finger in a line in front of you from left to right to left.
    • How much? Show a note and shrug, or swipe your four fingers across your thumb looking like you just saw Elvis walking across the street. Then write your name with a virtual pen in the air.
etc etc. --Stefan (sertmann) talk 23:26, 25 October 2009 (EDT)


VfD discussion[edit]

Getting rid of this has been discussed before; see its discussion page and User_talk:DenisYurkin#Some_questions. I thought it time to broaden the discussion.

It seems to me the basic premise that there's some sort of "international language" (words or phrases likely to be understood more-or-less anywhere) to be documented is just wrong. Given that, I do not think the article is salvageable, or at least not under this title. On the other hand, could we move it to Tips for coping with language problems or some such? Certainly this is a problem many travelers face; that's a valid travel topic and parts of this article might be a good start. Pashley 08:36, 25 October 2009 (EDT)

What sections/aspects could an article like Tips for coping with language problems include? --DenisYurkin 05:29, 26 October 2009 (EDT)
I mean that if there's any idea of what this article better become a part of, why vfding it at all--why not start with an outline of such a more-general article? I absolutely admit that it's impossible to have a complete phrasebook (complete in the sense we have other phrasebooks here)--and this article was never considered for that goal--. Yes, it's a helper in communicating when you can't find a common language--so if it's only a matter of renaming, let's just do it. --DenisYurkin 16:30, 27 October 2009 (EDT)
I like this idea better. An international phrasebook is too limiting, I think, because there is no such thing as an international language (although people like to say that English is the international language). Tips for getting through language issues seems easier to add to, as well as to forgive things that apply to many places but not everywhere. ChubbyWimbus 02:16, 26 October 2009 (EDT)
  • Delete though Jani's idea of a sign language phrasebooks seems good if someone can come up with an idea on how to make it work, I learned booking whole railway tickets in China (before mass tourism arrived) using nothing but sign language and a LP guide (city names in Chinese) - See the talk page —The preceding comment was added by Sertmann (talkcontribs) .


  • Keep. I think it's useful to have a list of English words that are likely to be widely understood. LtPowers 14:33, 26 October 2009 (EDT)

Based on discussion at Wikitravel:Travellers'_pub#Image_for_Travel_topic:World_languages, I've started a Talk article using some, but by no means all, text from this one. Pashley 21:23, 22 December 2009 (EST)

Now that we have Talk, I think this should be a Redirect. ChubbyWimbus 19:49, 8 February 2010 (EST)
  • Result: Redirect to Talk. LtPowers 16:17, 7 March 2010 (EST)

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