Friday, September 26, 2008

Essential Cell Phone Dictionaries, Phrasebooks for Your Next International Trip

International business and travel are a part of the landscape of today’s culture. While a good portion of the world is amazingly bilingual, trilingual and even multilingual, the rest of us are left with the anxiety of traveling to a foreign country. We are left with two options: butcher our way through another language or hope for an English-speaking native to help us out, neither of which is incredibly appealing. Luckily, smartphones continue to improve our lives, this time with talking phrasebook applications that make both learning and accessing other languages a breeze.

Apple’s iPhone has the most popular language application, iLingo by Talking Panda. The ten iLingo app languages – translating English to French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean or Japanese – were specifically chosen and organized to make traveling easier. Words and phrases are grouped into categories, such as Greetings, Shopping and Getting Around. The word or phrase is then spoken in a voice native to the country or region you’re visiting. As an added bonus, each language is tailored to the region you’re in, making it easy to find food and cultural activities. iLingo is very affordable at $9.99 per language, but the small price accompanies a small, travel-centered dictionary.

Beiks offers language applications for mobile phone users. Talking phrasebooks are available for Blackberry and Windows Mobile users. Beiks offers 14 English-conversion travel phrasebooks for Windows Mobile, as well as a Euro bundle, which gives English-speaking travelers access to French, Spanish, German and Italian, all in one application. Beiks also offers 21 other language phrasebooks, such as French to Turkish and German to Hebrew translations. Their collection for Blackberry is even larger, with 14 phrasebooks originating from five languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian). Each language also has its own bundle. Prices for Windows Mobile and Blackberry are the same, with individual phrasebooks for $19.95 and bundles for $39.90.

LingvoSoft also offers dictionaries and talking phrasebooks. With dictionaries for your phone in 47 different languages (including Hindi, Farsi, Bengali and Yiddish) and 50 different talking phrasebook options (nearly 30 of these offering English to another language translations), LingvoSoft works with Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm operating systems. Prices range from $27.95 to $39.95 for talking phrasebooks.

The prices for traveling internationally might be damaging to your bank account, but the time and energy these applications save will be worth every penny. Happy traveling!

Try out your new language software and see if you can translate this French pop song by Yelle.

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