Daily Pampering: ECTACO’s Multilingual talking electronic dictionary and phrasebook

Forget about paying for language lessons, books on tape or private instruction so you can learn to say “Where is the bathroom” in Russian. Now there’s a speaking portable pocket translator that will do all the work for you.

“How do you say…?” is a thing of the past, thanks to ECTACO’s Multilingual Talking Electronic Dictionary and Audio PhraseBook. This $799 speech-recognition tool will help you speak like a local in most languages. Well, assuming you have the intellect to speak the language properly.

There are thousands of voice activated phrases already inputted into the database, and a full text translator will allow you to interact with people in your target language without having to learn the language. The best part? It speaks (so you don’t have to)! All 14,000 voice-activated phrases are spoken in a real human voice to facilitate understanding and includes a massive human-voice talking dictionary.

The ECTACO Partner Alpine 8C900 Grand Multilingual Talking Electronic Dictionary and Audio PhraseBook also comes with a GPS module attached to help you find your way wherever your travels take you, and a C-pen scanner allows you to upload and translate any text directly into your handheld phrasebook.

Now you can practice conjugating your verbs while you travel! Your high school Spanish teacher would be so proud.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Learn a new language – 10 words at a time

The joke is that people who speak 2 languages are bilingual, and people who speak one language are American.

Sure, it may not be that bad, but compared to Europe and Asia, the US really does lack bilingual speakers.

There are plenty of ways to pick up a new language, including those expensive courses you see advertised on TV infomercials every night.

Learn10 is a new approach to learning a language – you are presented with blocks of 10 words, and can have them emailed to you each day.

Their site offers a widget with a variety of language tools, including spoken audio and a translator. You can even embed that widget in your own web site.

Your daily list of 10 words can also be accessed through RSS, Twitter and Facebook!

Learn10 offers 24 different languages, including the “popular” ones, and a couple of less popular ones like Welsh and Danish. You probably won’t become a fluent linguist in a new language within a week, but it should provide you with a decent foundation of basic words.

The basic version of Learn10 is free, and includes most of their learn and test features. For $9.95 a month, you can upgrade to the premium version, which comes with a revision tool, a compete feature and a language training screensaver.

Learn a Foreign Language Online with a Real Native Speaker

One of the very best ways to learn a foreign language is by conversing with a native speaker. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find a native speaker when you are still at home getting ready for your trip abroad.

Sure, you can pay a fortune and visit your local Berlitz, but now there is a better way to practice conversation with a local expert.

FluencyNow.com is a cool new site that hooks students up with native speakers on the other side of the globe. If you have a pair of microphone enabled headphones and a high speed internet connection you are good to go. Simply book a time for a session, await confirmation, and then chat away at the appointed time.

50-minute sessions cost only $30–a whole lot cheaper than Berlitz and a whole lot more practical. And who knows, perhaps your native speaker will want to meet you in person and show you around when you finally arrive in their country.

(via Budget Travel)

Scheisse! And other very Bad Foreign Words

There’s something very satisfying about swearing in a foreign language.

First off, it’s not like you’re really swearing. It’s just some strange word that has never had any relevance or connotation to you before.

But now, just because someone told you that this odd arrangement of letters you’ve never seen actually means something very bad, the word itself becomes your dirty little secret, something you can heft around at will when you return home that won’t cause any damage to others, but will more than satisfy that primal urge to yell something horribly nasty on occasion.During the course of my travels, I’ve come across a number of such words, thoughtfully provided by snickering locals who are simply beside themselves that some random American tourist can now say sh*t in Czech. This, folks, is globalization at its best.

Of all the swearwords I’ve learned, however, only one has truly remained with me, ready to be pulled out at moment’s notice whenever the situation warrants: Scheisse!

I can thank the Germans for this little wonder, so very short, succinct, and cutting. I love the way it rolls nastily off the tongue in a sort of aggravated exhale. Scheisse!

See, doesn’t it just sound great? And most of you don’t even know what it means!

I’m sure some of our fine readers have accumulated a few choice words of their own while traveling. If you care to share, spend a moment and type them out in the comment section below. But please don’t include their English translation! Foreign swearwords lose their power when their true meanings are revealed.

Word for the Travel Wise (12/25/06)

Wishing all who are celebrating this Christmas holiday a very merry day. May Santa bring you everything you wish for and more!

Today we say Merry Christmas in various languages:

  • Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka !
  • Catalan – Bon Nada!
  • Lithuanian – Linksmu Kaledu!
  • Dutch – Gelukkig Kerstfeest!
  • Persian – Krismas-e shoma mubarak!
  • Spanish – Feliz Navidad!
  • Swedish – God Jul!
  • Korean – Sungtanul chukaheyo!
  • Turkish – Neseli Noel!