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Phrase books

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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.


  1. ^ Monty Python Sketch: Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook
  2. ^ Monty Python Sketch: Court (phrasebook)


This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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