Die Grenzen meiner Sprache sind die Grenzen meiner Welt - Ludwig Wittgenstein


Wicked Travel Series by Howard Tomb
Man is the animal who laughs.
I personally have "Wicked French" and "Wicked Japanese". These also make great gifts.

  Wicked French Caveat emptor: Any traveler to France who actually says to the customs agent Bien sur, soyez le bienvenu pour reduire ma valise en miettes. Heureusement ce ne sont que des valises moches de Louis Vuitton! (Of course you're welcome to tear my suitcase apart. Lucky they're only these tacky Louis Vuitton bags!) is likely to find him or herself detained at the customs desk for a nice, long spell. Likewise, responding to a waiter's suggestion with Je reserve la lamproie a la bordelaise pour un occasion speciale (I'm saving a stew of blood-sucking eels for a very special occasion.) just about guarantees bad service. In other words, the French you'll learn from Wicked French for Travelers is probably best enjoyed at home before you go.

Like Henry Beard's French for Cats this slim volume is meant to amuse more than educate. Surely you wouldn't really expect some Parisian beauty to respond to a pick-up line like Comment vous appelez-vous, mon bijou de trente-six carats? (What is your name, my jewel of thirty-six carats?) or hope to make it out of a post office alive after demanding of the clerk if he has a porcupine stuck up his rear end (avez-vous un porc-epic coince entre les fesses?). Our advice: Read Wicked French and have a good laugh before you go--but take a different phrase book with you on your trip.

  Wicked German From the sneakily successful travel series with over one million copies in print, here is the guide to help travelers gain a foothold in Deutschland. Learn to distinguish between Mettwurst, Fleischwurst, Blutwurst, Schinkenwurst, Touristenwurst, Pinkelwurst, and Zungenwurst. Praise beer like the cognoscenti: "This Malz has a strong oak flavor with a faint almond backwash" and "The tanner, curvaceous Rauchbier displays a fine set of bubbles." Critique Bavarian castles, torment skinheads, and discover all the accepted excuses for backing out of a polka evening.

From the finer points of cultural exchange, such as discussing the cinema ("Why must there be action of any kind in a film? Hollywood's insistence on plot is ridiculous") to making friends in the disco ("I love your black boots/pants/shirt/jacket/hat/lipstick"), this book will make sure no German puts one uber on you again. It's on the Mark. 114,000 copies in print.
  Wicked Greek For two thousand years visitors have been touring the rugged glory of Greece. But with a difference--when the early Romans went visiting, those wacky Greek gods were still holed up on Mount Olympus. Today they've come down, and they're driving taxis, tending bar, dancing and yelling and throwing plates around restaurants. All of which spells adventure for the unsuspecting tourist, and wonderful opportunity for Howard Tomb.

From the sneakily successful series of travel books with over 1 million copies in print, Wicked Greek is the phrasebook that takes the chaos out of the land that invented it. Here are pithy comments on retsina: "My wine tastes like a handful of pine needles." Tips on consulting the Oracle of the Ferry Schedules, including the Mystery of the Next Departure to Patmos. More than you ever dreamed possible about olives-including black, green, purple, briny, cracked, and this-makes-the-retsina-taste-good. Trojan War stories. Zeno's Paradox, Aristotle's Boo-Boo, Plato's Cave, and other philosophical conundrums that put us in the fix we're in today. Motorbike survival tips. Ella, word of a thousand meanings. And how to pursue romance with the natives.
  Wicked Italian More than just a phrasebook with a sense of humor, Wicked Italian, from the series with over one million copies in print, is a cultural survival guide. Confronted with a forgetful innkeeper you'll do better than mumble an apology by learning to say Allora dormiamo nella lobby. ("In that case, we will sleep here in the lobby"). Forced to wait for your dinner you'll say: Bisogna essere Primo Ministro per essere servito qui? ("Must one be Prime Minister to get service here?") Women traveling alone will finally have the phrases they need at their fingertips, such as Contento tu ("Dream on"), Guardi che chiamo la polizia ("I'll call the police"), and Neanche se fosse l'ultimo uomo sulla terra ("Not if you were the last man on earth"). On the other hand, a chapter on "Making Love" teaches the delicate language of amore. Wicked Italian is the next best thing to being named Marcello or Sophia. Ciao!
  Wicked Japanese From the sneakily successful travel series with over 1,000,000 copies in print, here is the pocket-sized guide that combines verbal self-defense with cultural insight. Specifically focused on getting in, getting around, and getting the deal done, Wicked Japanese prepares the gaijin (that's you) for a world so alien that just wearing the wrong necktie can spell certain death to the bargain you flew 18 hours to seal.

Impress your host with your politeness--and recite the correct apology for grazing a stranger with your sleeve: Buchoho de makoto ni moshiwake gozaimasen ("Sorry to have injured you with my stupid clumsiness"). And if planning to work for a Japanese company, show that you're a team player: Yumei na daigaisha no hitotsu no hagurama ni nalitai ("I wish to be a tiny cog in a huge and honorable machine"). 93,000 copies in print.
  Wicked Spanish From the sneakily successful travel series with over 1 million copies in print, Wicked Spanish (over 250,000 copies in print) is the devilishly funny pocket-sized guide to language and culture in the land of manana.

From managing epic taxi rides (The Old Man and the Chevy) to Perfecting the Haggle to Tipping the Police, Wicked Spanish anticipates and prepares norteamericanos for a wide range of exotic Latin customs and conditions-also know as que sera, sera.

Explain to your innkeeper that you'd rather have private accommodations: Pero you prefiero un cuarto sin escorpiones. ("But I'd prefer a room without scorpions."). Politely ask your waiter what you're eating: QuS hace immovil dentro del mole? (What lies motionless under the spicy chocolate sauce?). And Mi abuelo perteneci. a un sindicato obrero ("My grandfather belonged to a labor union") may be just the ticket for kidnap victims of revolutionaries.

Once acclimated, you'll make clever cockfight conversation, understand Zapotec Basketball, and even enjoy a cold cerveza with your wife in a friendly men's bar: No la mires. No le hables. No la toques. ("Do not stare at her. Do not address her. Do not touch her."). Above all, you'll learn the real meaning of Vaya con Dios.
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