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Wikitravel talk:Phrasebook Expedition

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To section "Structure of phrasebooks": How about an optional 4th entry that links to a sound file where a native speaker says the appropriate frase? Ok, that's a lot of work, but at least we could take it up into the specification.

Hmm. I'm not averse to this, and it's a pretty good idea. My main problem would be that the sound file wouldn't show up, obviously, in the printed version. -- Evan 13:26, 16 Oct 2003 (PDT)
Concerning sound files, you can see sound files in action at the Romanian phrasebook. I think it's very important to have these, since they really take advantage of what the web can do.
So, it's great to exercise the Web. But, it's also important to maintain printable versions of things. They're both goals, and we need to balance them.
Let's say this: the pseudo-pronunciation stuff is mandatory -- it has to be there -- but the sound files are optional. I'll do some work on the MediaWiki software so that media links are hidden when the printable version is shown (the click here to hear the blah blah blah stuff). I'd also like some help working on the neutrality of medium guideline to make sure that we do this right. This is a bigger subject than just sound files for phrasebooks -- I'd like to get a little Wikiocracy going. -- Evan 05:55, 13 Nov 2003 (PST)
What century are you living in Evan, you seem to be obsessed with being able to print stuff out, have u never heard of cellphones with net access, wireless pda's, internet cafes, laptops. I definitely agree that printing the occasional page out is handy, but its so inflexible. Hyperlinks, soundfiles pictures these are the sort of things that make a web based travel guide more useful than a plain printed guide. The license you have chosen for this site makes it sound like you are just doing it to collate loads of free content and then make money at the end of it by publishing travel guide books when you have collected enough data. It all sounds highly suspect to me, and I for one will not be contributing anything to this sordid effort.

Anon - 13 November 2003

Anon -- I'm sorry that you don't agree with what's going on on Wikitravel, and that you won't contribute. I'll try to respond to your points, and may try to integrate this into the FAQ or somewhere else to try to prevent this misunderstanding again.
I think that creating a Web-based travel guide is great. Our primary goals include having Web access to travel information. However, there are vast parts of the globe where Web access for travelers is scarce or non-existent. Even when you do have Web access, a printed article with restaurant and hotel listings can be much more useful for a traveler than a Web page that you have to copy hand-written notes from, or a teensy-weensy cell phone screen. When you're standing on a train platform or in a square in a town you don't know, it's a lot easier to refer to a back-pocket printout than to have to go find an Internet cafe or try to figure out WiFi connectivity. In fact, the printout would probably help you find the Internet cafe you need!
The fact is, most people today use the printed page for travel guides, and I don't think the technology is usable or ubiquitous enough for that to change in the near future. Like hundreds of thousands of other travelers, I for one rarely go somewhere I don't know without a printed guidebook in my backpack to give me info when I needed it. I have yet to use a Macromedia Flash movie as my primary travel guide. (That said, I do like the idea of having off-line access to travel info on my PDA; I hope we'll have that enabled soon with the Offline Reader Expedition.)
Where I have problems with multimedia content is when we concentrate a lot of effort into content that will be useful for one or the other output format but not both. I don't think Web-only content is good for readers, just as I don't think Wikitravel content done entirely in PostScript or PDFs or something -- although much cleaner for printing -- would be useful for people on the Web. It's easy to forget the fact that printed output is one of our goals, especially since almost everyone's interface to Wikitravel content is through the Web (for now, at least). I tend to be the one to remind people of it. Thus my preoccupation with the printed page. By the way, I don't even own a printer.
As to using Wikitravel content for publishing travel guide books: so what if I did? You could too! I would love for anyone to publish Wikitravel guides in book form. I think that would be great. Because all the information is copyleft, anyone could do it. Then we'd all have up-to-date guides, and they'd probably be really cheap, too -- publishers would have to compete on price, since if they made expensive books, someone else would just come in and produce a cheaper one.
With respect to the license: Wikitravel was inspired by Wikipedia, which uses the GNU Free Documentation License. We also use the software they've developed over the last few years, which is under the General Public License, for which I for one am immensely grateful. Given that, Maj and I didn't think it would be respectful to the spirit of that project, or fair to people contributing to Wikitravel, to have any kind of license that wasn't copyleft. The GFDL is optimized for large works of text, and is really a hassle for travel guides of a few pages or more (see Why Wikitravel isn't GFDL for details). That's why Wikitravel uses the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike instead. It's about as close to the GFDL as we could get in spirit, with the minimum effort for distributing small travel guides. (Note: distributing small travel guides in electronic form has the same problems with the GFDL!)
That all said, I do have a selfish interest in the work that's done on Wikitravel. I love to travel, and I want good, cheap, up-to-date and reliable travel guides when I do. If that's a crime, I'm guilty. You're all working just so I can have the best hotel info when I go to Avignon. Muahahahaha! Soon all the travel adventure in the world will be MINE, all MINE! -- Evan 19:15, 12 Nov 2003 (PST)

So, one of the things we need for phrasebooks is to write each phrase in English, in the target language (like French), and in that kind of pseudo-phonetic language used in phrasebooks since time immemorial:

Bonjour. (bawng ZHOO)

This will be a lot easier to do if we have some kind of standardized phoneticization for words in other languages. Of course, there's several phonetic alphabets out (such as SAMPA and IPA) that would probably be the most strictly correct, but really off-putting for the casual traveller. After all, we're not trying to train experts, here -- just let some poor traveller order a cup of coffee or call the cops.

So, I'm wondering: does anyone know of a standard pseudo-phonetic writing system for English readers? -- Evan 14:05, 30 Oct 2003 (PST)

I spent some time googling for this. It turns out it exists. Myriads of them. All different. Unfortunately, most of them are completely unusable for anything but their stated purpose, which is to teach english. If we should adopt some universal phonetic spelling, it should at the very least be able to encode all european languages, be intuitive to read, and limited to ASCII, or at least what can be expressed using the A-Z and the dead-keys on the keyboard.

Furthermore, it should not convey too much information either, as the purpose is to be understood, not to be correct. IPA and it's ASCII variations result in complete information overload. Unfortunately, english is the worst possible starting point (possibly with the exception of french) of all european languages for a phonetic writing system. I suggest that we either do it ad-hoc, or define our own, which is what every other pocket dictionary seems to do.

I have the idea that there will be a lot of non-Anglophone users of wikitravel (like there are a lot of non-Anglophone users of travel books in English). So it would be nice to add some more nationalities (not only American, British, Canadian, ..). Maybe not in the list itself, but in a seperate part (of the phrasebooks). I'll start this idea a little bit in the Dutch phrasebook. Guaka 14:52, 12 Nov 2003 (PST)

Urgh. There being, what, a couple of hundred different countries in the world, that will add an awful lot to the phrasebooks. -- Evan 17:35, 12 Nov 2003 (PST)
If it's needed (but I doubt it) we can link to this site. The links in the different columns go to articles that (will) have those names translated into a zillion languages. DhDh 13:47, 13 Nov 2003 (PST)

Ideas about conditional display of pages moved to Wikitravel:Feature requests by Evan

Language variations[edit]

(Forked by Notty 01:34, Feb 9, 2004 (EST) so that this portion of the original comment just shows the portion appropriate to Wikitravel Talk: Phrasebook expedition. The other portion can be found in Wikitravel: Feature requests.)

"Because the same language can be used in multiple countries (for example, Spanish or Arabic), phrasebooks in Wikitravel will be separate articles from country, city or regional articles. Those articles can link to the appropriate phrasebook for local languages, and may also include small micro-phrasebooks for local deviations. For example, the article for Quebec would link to the French phrasebook, but might also include some variations for Quebecois French. "

That sounds like a pain to have to integrate the micro-phrasebook on the Quebec page with a larger vocabulary, especially on a printout. If I leave the printout as is, I have to look in two places when I want to use a word or phrase to see whether there is a local exception. Otherwise, I have prepare the pages ahead of time by hand-copying the words/phrases or physically cutting out the substitute words/phrases (with scissors, not a mouse) and pasting them (with glue) onto the main vocabulary (where they may subsequently fall off).

It would be much better to always put regional language variants into the main phrasebook with a usage marker.

; blahblah : '''Mexico:''' blehbleh<br>'''Argentina:''' aoaoao<br>'''Chile, Peru''': bababa<br>'''elsewhere:''' cecece

Display would be:

Mexico: blehbleh
Argentina: aoaoao
Chile, Peru: bababa
elsewhere: cecece

This would also work for languages that have differences between a male speaker and a female speaker, using "male" or "female" in place of country name.

Notty 02:19, Feb 6, 2004 (EST)

(End of forked comment. Evan's response below is pre-fork and is not to be evaluated by the fork above. Notty 01:34, Feb 9, 2004 (EST) )

This is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure if it would apply for phrasebooks. If there's a small number of variations, they can be handled within the phrasebook or in a micro-phrasebook for the region or city. Quebecois French is like this; just a few variations on International French. I think American English and Brazilian Portuguese would also be handled. If there's a large number of variations, then we could have separate phrasebooks. --Evan 13:01, 6 Feb 2004 (EST)
I am responding post-fork to your response to my pre-forked comment. It may not have been clear from my pre-forked comment that my opposition to micro-phrasebooks as being user- and printer-unfriendly was without regard to a feature addition. I hope my post-forked version is more clear.
P.S. Is the "E" in Phrasebook Expedition incorrectly capitalized? I just realized it was capitalized when I tried to create a link to this page. Notty 01:34, Feb 9, 2004 (EST)
Expeditions on Wikitravel are capitalized. See Wikitravel:Expeditions. --Evan 01:54, 9 Feb 2004 (EST)

I think there should be a separate phrasebook for Brazilian Portuguese. I understand the current policy, but if any variation deserves to be on its own, this is it. Any objections?

Paul Richter 00:11, 19 Mar 2004 (EST)

Can you give some examples of phrases that a Brazilian would say and a Portuguese not understand, or vice versa? Do you have mutual intelligibility statistics? -phma 07:13, 19 Mar 2004 (EST)

The answer to both is no, the first of which is actually one reason I think they should be separate.
Right now you've started on the Portuguese phrasebook, and I'd love to add to it. But since I'm not a native speaker of Brazilian, I don't feel justified changing existing entries because I don't know if they're just different from what I've heard in Brazil, or never used at all in Brazil. And (I assume) since you're not a native speaker of Continental, you might feel the same way if I started adding Brazilian phrases.
I could then just work on filling in the blanks with familiar Brazilian phrases, but then when it's finished we'll end up with half the phrases sounding Continental and half sounding Brazilian. Hopefully by then some native speakers will show up so both of us can step aside and let them hash it out, but my guess is that it will quickly split into separate books.
Or I could start the Brazilian mini-phrasebook, but frankly I agree with Notty, they seem like a hassle.
Then there's the issue of pronunciation. Some of the common sounds, such as di,de,te,r are different across the board. That makes for a lot of entries in a mini-phrasebook, or just an overall pronunciation guide, which has to be mentally "overlaid" onto the phrasebook.
For a phrasebook, I think it's really important that it be self-contained and straight to the point. After all, people use them when they need to communicate something important right now, and don't have time to shuffle between pages of pronunciation guides and local variations and such. At the same time, it's important that what comes out will be understood unambiguously.
If I step back and review the purpose of the phrasebook, I suppose that as long as the phrases are understood, it shouldn't matter. Brazilian and Continental are mutually intelligible, so sending someone to Brazil with a Continental phrasebook is no crime ... but I think Wikitravel can provide a little more than that. And after all, this is the web, so if we can provide a self-contained phrasebook for Cote D'Ivoire French, why shouldn't we? - - Paul Richter 04:24, 23 Mar 2004 (EST)

Travlang phrasebooks[edit]

Travlang has a section called Foreign Languages for Travelers. A cursory review shows that we have a lot more in our phrasebooks than they do, but if anyone sees something we should have that we don't, it'd be a good to add it to the Wikitravel:Phrasebook template. --Evan 13:54, 13 Mar 2004 (EST)

Wikipedia resource for phrases[edit]

There is a VfD happening at English Wikipedia about moving the article Common phrases in various languages. It's not really an encyclopedic entry, but I think you could certainly have use for it here.

Peter Isotalo 03:18, 24 May 2005 (EDT)

But we already have a perfectly good Phrasebook template, and copying the Wikipedia article would cause some licensing issues. --Evan 13:42, 24 May 2005 (EDT)

word-to-word translation[edit]

In some phrasebooks, there is a literal translation of the foreign language phrase, e.g.:


an com

lit. eat rice
to eat

What do you think of including such "grammatical" info? I found that it helps to understand a language much quicker... -- Ront 10:08, 19 Jun 2005 (EDT)


Is this Expedition done? It seems like the goals have been reached, and were reached a long time ago. Is it time to change the goals, or just to retire the expedition? --Evan 08:53, 20 Jul 2005 (EDT)

What d'you mean by 'retire'? Are these expeditions supposed to be temporary things? My impression was that they are just sections of which are seperate from the bulk of the travel guides information. An expedition may or may not be in a well developed 'finished' state. However related to my comment below, I would be in favour of changing the link on the front page to point to Wikitravel:list of phrasebooks, rather than this 'phrasebook expedition' page, hence the expedition aspect become less significant. Or another solution/improvement might be to scrap the 'list of phrasebooks' page, and have the list appear prominently at the top of this page. -- Nojer2 07:23, 10 Aug 2005 (EDT)
The goals of this expedition are listed on the page. I think they've been met. We have a number of completed expeditions on the Expeditions page.
I think at this point the big move would be to push the content of the phrasebook expedition page out to a Manual of style page, and then retire the expedition. --Evan 10:18, 10 Aug 2005 (EDT)
I was just thinking that the other day... I didn't see this conversation or I would have done it then. -- Mark 10:51, 10 Aug 2005 (EDT)

'List of phrasebooks' link should be BIGGER[edit]

I actually use these phrasebooks. When I want to learn a few words of portugese, I come to to do it, but I can tell you, it isn't as easy as it should be, for the simple reason that the 'list of phrasebooks' link is not prominent enough. It's difficult to click through to where all your hard work can be found. The 'phrasebooks expedition' is not very prominent on the front page either, but maybe that's because phrasebooks are not widely regarded to be a big part of, however I can see no reason why we have such piddly little link from this page to the actual phrasebooks. I tried to fix this, although making the link part of a heading was maybe not the best way of doing it. Anyway that was reverted, and now the link even less prominent! -- Nojer2 07:23, 10 Aug 2005 (EDT)


Compare the "phrases and vocabulary" pages on [1] to the phrasebooks here. Even down to the note regarding a fine in reaction to the use a particular German phrase, these are exact copies (not the Wikitravel phrasebooks, the others). Mga 00:27, 21 Sep 2005 (EDT)

This is perfectly valid redistribution, he even states "All of the information found on this website is available to use and distribute free of charge under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license" on all the pages. However, he doesn't list the contributors (which is no-no) and he doesn't link back (which is nice although not obligatory), so I'll drop him a polite line. Jpatokal 00:37, 21 Sep 2005 (EDT)

Phrasebook Audio?[edit]

Swept in from pub:

I was thinking that it might be helpful to include audio with the phrasebooks. If it is not possible to insert audio, would it be possible to adjust external link policy to add websites at the end of the phrasebook articles? AHeneen 14:34, 19 January 2009 (EST)

If we want to do it, best to host the audio here I think. --Inas 23:59, 20 January 2009 (EST)

Template links from each phrasebook to the list?[edit]

Itineraries have the {{itinerary}} template in their first line to link back to the list of itineraries:

This article is an itinerary.

Travel topics have the {{traveltopic}} template in their first line to link back to the list of travel topics:     This article is a travel topic
Let's make a {{phrasebook}} template to put in the first line of phrasebooks to link back to the list of phrasebooks:

This article is a phrasebook.

Any objections? texugo 23:48, 24 February 2011 (EST)