Language barrier be gone: guide makes it a point…to point

Chances are, you’ve been there–that awkward moment in another country when you don’t speak the local language, and the person across from you doesn’t speak English. Try as you might with a smile and game of charades, you’re at an impasse. Game over.

Or else, maybe you tried one last attempt: drawing it. That’s the premise behind Me No Speak.

The mini-guide takes the words most likely to come out of a traveler’s mouth, and puts them in illustration and writing–both English and the local language (Chinese, Japanese, or Thai). That way, the only thing you have to do is point.

Without pronunciation keys, and the urge to wade through rounds of trial and error in speaking the language, you cut to the chase. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try learning or practicing a language, but this guide is more for emergencies–the first thing that comes to mind is ordering at a restaurant or finding the nearest toilet. But it’s been said to be useful for everything from reporting a stolen camera to police to getting a leaky shower fixed in a hotel bathroom.

The passport-sized guides are divided into color-coded sections: general help, food, transportation, accommodation, shopping, and health & safety. They’re largely sold on the Me No Speak website ($9.95), but also at a few retailers such as Flight 001.

Word is, they’re working on iPhone applications as well, starting with their China guide. Other guides that are coming down the pike are for Korea and Turkey.