TRAVEL PHRASEBOOK

When you’re traveling in a foreign country it’s nice to have a talking phrase book. But if you step out of a WiFi or cellular zone, an offline talking phrase and picture book is even better.

“Langenscheidt Talk and Travel,” is a $12 app in the iTunes or Google Play (Android) app store. It organizes about 4,000 phrases into categories, such as “Tourist Small Talk,” “Expressing Likes and Dislikes,” “Taking Public Transport,” and so on. These are grouped into larger categories such as “For the Disabled,” or “Traveling with Children,” and “Money, Mail and Police.” Let’s hope you don’t have to use the one that says: “I’d like to report a rape.”

What grabbed us about this foreign phrase translator — as opposed to a half dozen other devices and routines that do the same thing — was the pictures. There are 550 drawings of common devices, services, problems and destinations; you point to one that covers your situation. In the “health” category, for example, you could point to a picture of a toilet not working, which is a picture of a person on a toilet and a big “X” through it. Show it to the hotel clerk. There were pictures illustrating problems such as sunburn and leg pains. It also shows common signs, such as “abfahrt” and “abflu,” which in German means “departures,” road, train or plane. Signs in foreign lands are a constant common problem. There are flash cards as well, which can help you learn a new language.

The app is available for English speakers who want to communicate in Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Turkish. To find it in the app store, search on “Langenscheidt Talk and Travel.” Some languages entail an extra charge of $39.

A free alternative, if you have the time to work with it, is the free Google Translate. Go online at least once, then mark your favorite words and phrases and they’ll be saved to your starred list. Translate will speak them aloud in about 25 languages, or give you the text for more than 50 of them. If you want pictures, save them to your device from Google Images.

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