Sunday, February 22, 2009

Phrase Books

My collection of phrase books is not what it used to be. It topped out at over one hundred, but over the years has dwindled to a dozen. What appears to be James Joyce on my desk is really an old French phrase book that lost its cover long ago. To keep it from falling apart, I made a new cover for it, layering pages from a magazine with glue--and it worked out.


The Irish phrase book is one of a few that I have. I make my grocery lists out in Irish. caora finiuna, aran, seaclaid (grapes, bread, chocolate) forgetting weights and measures since that would require too much brain power.


I have several French phrase books. One devotes more than a page to books, which is impressive, and they all include very useful phrases like "Get out of my way! "You're a moron!" and "Leave me alone!" My favorite was "Ooh La La" which was translated as "Man Alive!"


Some Irish phrase books include poems that Irish school children learn. Important old sayings are included as well. "The windy day is not the day for scallops!" means don't start a new project in the midst of chaos. (scallops refers to thatching the roof of a cottage.) Don't ask your dad for a favor just after he's been fired from his job.

I once had a little Vietnamese phrase book ~ I picked it up because I was eating at a Vietnamese restaurant a lot, and was speaking to the owner more and more. She laughed bitterly at the phrase book as much as I did, since it included phrases like:
"Put your hands up in the air!" "Drop any weapons you have!" "Get down on the ground, quickly!" and "I am an American--Your friend!" There were many helpful pages for the American GI, for town or jungle.

7 comments:

Marianna said...

Interesting way to learn somethings in other languages! Great phrase book collection you must have :-)

I bumped into a chinese coursebook myself the other day and photocopied a few pages...ni hao?

take care now
peace and love
xoxo

runmotman said...

por favor, how do i say "Get out of my way, you're a moron?" That would be so useful at work!

tut-tut said...

I like phrase books; I had no idea that Irish was spoken. I was under the impression that there was a movement to bring it back, but that it was not in wide use.

Cinnamon said...

Phrase books are so funny because usually the phrases/translations are dated or too formal. Language evolves at such a fast pace!

e said...

Great posting. I love the tidbits of information you leave. Perhaps you'll tell more of your adventures in Ireland and what happened to your Dad once he left Pittsburgh?

Interesting phrase books...

Hasta Luego!

Barbara said...

I have acquired quite a few phrase books over the years, but never really got the hang of how to best use them. Most of my language studies ended with basic survival language and grammar.

What exactly are we supposed to do for the March group book, which I am delighted to see is one recently read?

subtorp77 said...

I'm not even sure how many phrase books I have. Some go back to the 1880's. Yet another thing, for me to catalogue!

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)