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Best French phrasebook?


Loiseau

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Hi Angela - I have a few and tend to keep them up-to-date. They are, of course, all comparable in being quite limited, but I have found the Lonely Planet one to be the best for my needs with a very good standard of spelling out the way to pronounce words. Be careful though if giving this book to kids, it does have an adult section on love, sex and romance (covering most things you dream might happen, but rarely do at my age...). You can buy it in W.H.Smiths and it costs about £4.

In addition, I have just acquired the very latest (4th) edition of the Collins Easy Learning French Dictionary - for a small/medium size dictionary, it is absolutely excellent and costs £8.99, but less from the likes of Amazon.  

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Thanks so much for those suggestions folks.

Mel, I had looked at the Lonely Planet one; you can even dip into its pages on the Amazon listing.  And it looks amazing - even telling you about the way the French use different inflexions when they are listing things out loud etc.  I have never seen anyone cover that before...  But thanks for the warning about the "adult" content!

I will check out the Berlitz one, as well.

Somebody has also recommended "Collins Gem: 5,000 French Words" as being very well laid out.  And very helpful for its different categories, such as shopping, garages, banks etc.

It's hard to judge the needs of somebody with no knowledge of the language once you have a reasonable command of it yourself, isn't it?

Angela

 

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I know, Andy.  But people often ask for a recommendation. 

And I suppose if I were going to, say, Hungary where I would have zero knowledge of the language, or even Germany where I would have a smattering from long-ago school, I would be glad of anything that helped me understand a menu, or ask for a jug of water.  Or to ask for directions to somewhere.  (OK, that makes somebody come back at you with a whole rigmarole about how to avoid taking the A16 on a Wednesday or something, but they could always sketch the answer on a bit of paper!)  I think people feel a bit nervous if they have *nothing* to help them and are maybe first-timers to France.  And all credit to them for wanting to try out some phrases, rather than automatically assume that everyone is going to speak English! [;-)]

I think I might have a browse round Waterstone's or somewhere, in the interests of research...

Angela

 

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I bought the Lonely Planet one about 3 years ago (I've got the Berlitz as well) and at that time, my French was only average. I found it helped me in many situations.

Since then, I have been having lessons with a (French) French teacher, my command of the language has improved greatly - yet I still use my Lonely Planet phrase book from time-to-time. 

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[quote user="Mel "]

...I have found the Lonely Planet one to be the best for my needs with a very good standard of spelling out the way to pronounce words. Be careful though if giving this book to kids, it does have an adult section on love, sex and romance ....[/quote]

 

Hmm, see what you mean there, Mel!  I just browsed a bookshop to see what is currently on offer, and some of the phrases in that section of the LP book make my hair curl.

I thought the Berlitz Phrasebook was good, and also a newer Collins Gem one (very small and pocket-sized, and only £3.99).  (I tested the various books by looking up "andouille" in their menu sections, and discounting the books that either ignored it, or said, tamely, "spicy sausage" and missed out the fact that their main ingredient is tripe!)

Thanks for the input, everyone.

Angela

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Hi Mel,

You're right, that I don't need one myself (modesty is obviously not my forte this morning!).  So I didn't actually *buy* one.  I browsed through everything on offer in a well-stocked shop in Charing Cross Road.

Some books tend more towards teaching you the language, rather than just supplying useful phrases.  I discounted those only because I wanted something I could recommend to people who really don't speak French at all, and just need something to get them through a one- or two-week holiday rather than as a language-learning tool.

Eventually I decided I would recommend the Berlitz and Gem mentioned above, because they were small, unpretentious and seemed pretty comprehensive for their size.  I thought the Lonely Planet was excellent, however, in the way it told you about intonations as well as pronunciation, but felt that in a family-holiday context the "adult content" might have been inappropriate in younger hands!

Angela

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