If you’re heading to China this year, we have something you should add to your packing list. It’s a new picture-based phrasebook for English speakers who want to get their point across in a Beijing taxi or a Shanghai noodle bar.
What makes this phrasebook different (and better) is that it doesn’t require you to speak the language. I learned this lesson firsthand when traveling in Turkey a few years ago. I had a handy phrasebook at my side but found it useless because, at the risk of stating the obvious, I DO NOT SPEAK TURKISH.
I absolutely dare you to pronounce this properly in Turkish: Afedersiniz! Hala faturamÄ± bekliyorum.
Nope, I couldn’t either. No wonder those very friendly Turks looked at me with polite but befuddled smiles and asked (in perfect English), ‘what are you trying to say?’.
|I don’t want mushrooms, either|
The whole things feels like a nasty Catch-22. You buy a phrasebook so you can communicate with the locals, but you can’t properly use a phrasebook unless you know enough of the local language not to need a phrasebook in the first place.
But I digress.
This post is about Chinese. About a new picture-based phrasebook from a company called Me No Speak.
And there’s no need to learn Chinese before you buy the phrasebook, because the authors had the brilliant idea of using pictures and what they call “point-to phrases”. So simple, it’s shocking that we as a language-loving species have survived into the year 2007 without it. So if you’re heading to the 2008 Olympics in China, grab a Me No Speak phrase book and make yourself understood. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand mispronounced words.