I'm sorry, I don't speak [insert Europen language here]
June 8, 2010 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a travel, multi-language pocket dictionary with common phrases and vocab for European countries.

I am 3 weeks away from a 6 week solo backpacking trip of Europe-- exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I am looking for a pocket dictionary that will have the most common phrases and vocabulary in various European languages-- Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Czech, Italian, etc. I wasn't really looking for something electronic, but if there is something amazing, let me know. I plan on downloading the "One Minute Language" series from itunes. I already speak a little French, but I want to make sure that I don't show up in Berlin at literally a loss for words.


PS-- If anyone has any random travel advice, please load me up on that too. Or point me towards the existing thread about general backpacking travel I know must be out there. Thanks so much!
posted by CPAGirl to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total)
I found the pocket Rick Steves phrase books to be pretty handy. They have very common phrases and good phonetic pronunciation guides.
posted by amanda at 7:38 AM on June 8, 2010

In German cities and especially in the Netherlands, you will be able to use English virtually anywhere. Not as much in the other countries whose languages you list, but even in those countries, English will get you pretty far. (Nothing wrong with having a phrasebook though.)
posted by kosmonaut at 7:47 AM on June 8, 2010

You will probably be shocked at how widely English is spoken across Europe. Considering the number of languages you've asked for, I'm guessing that you're going to be hopping from major-city to major-city and not 'going native' at all. In which case you should concentrate on just learning 'please', 'thank-you', 'hello' and 'good-bye' in all the required languages, plus make a of note of any major cultural differences that ignoring will cause unwanted attention to be drawn to yourself.

Unless you're a language savant, trying to learn too much is going to screw with your head and get in the way of your enjoyment. Of course trying to speak someone's language will make a good impression, and it's to be encouraged, but given the short time you have (3 weeks) you're not going to learn anything of significance. Know that all cultural and tourist attractions will have all written material available in English and all spoken tours will be available in English. Your Hotelier/Hostelier will speak functional English. A lot of restaurants will have English menus (even the non-tourist-trap ones) and you can get around communicating with Taxi drivers by writing down where you need to go in advance of getting in.

Get a good guidebook (Rough Guide/Lonely Planet etc.), it will improve your trip experience more than you can imagine.
posted by davidjohnfox at 8:34 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Though I personally believe that part of the fun of travelling is bumbling through foreign languages, you may consider one of the purely visual travel translation books/cards such as Point It: Traveller's Language Kit or KwikPoint.
posted by fairmettle at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2010

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