Rosetta Stone Language Software

Polyglot Resources for the Student of Romance Languages

Quality polyglot resources are few and far between. It is particularly hard to find resources that bring multiple languages together and introduce them in relation to one another. Still, there are a few items worth having on the bookshelf if you're truly interested in becoming a polyglot in the Romance languages.

The Loom of Language is the inspiration for this website. It gives hints on grammar and vocabulary for the Romance and Germanic languages, and much much more. Bodmer's aim was to create a polyglot class that would bridge cultural gaps and bring a war-torn Europe together. Be forwarned: Bodmer was a very smart man with wide ranging interests and the reading is not always easy-going. But if you stick it out you'll learn a tremendous amount about the Romance and Germanic languages and about language and communication in general. Also included, outdated but still useful vocabulary lists in the back.

Buck's Dictionary of Indo-European synomyms covers the Romance, Germanic, Slavic and Celtic families thoroughly with less copious examples from the Indo-Aryan and other subfamilies. It's by now quite outdated, but the scholarship will give a thorough understanding of such vocabulary as remains up to do. This is not a good book for pulling wordlists from, but if you're trying to figure out where a word came from or how to make a connection with it this is an invaluable resource.

DK's Five Language Visual Dictionary is divided into numerous themes, illustrated by pictures that have been thoroughly labeled in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. There is an index by language in the back. If you're trying to pick up the vocabulary for a particular topic, especially if it concerns concrete, real-world topics, this book can't be beat.

The Lonely Planet Europe Phrasebook has sections for Basque, Catalan (R), Dutch (G), French (R), German (G), Greek, Irish, Italian (R), Maltese, Portuguese (R), Scottish Gaelic, Spanish (R), Turkish and Welsh (Romance languages marked with R, Germanic languages with G). The guides are language specific and the major languages have more detail. While this is not an ideal resource, it is very handy if you are reminding yourself of the basics, like whether the word for milk or jam is the same in French as in Italian.

DK's European Phrasebook is similar to the Lonely Planet Europe Phrasebook, but offers far fewer language hints. On the other hand, it has more culture hints, particularly about hotels and eateries, and features a detailed menu reader guide for each language. It covers Czech, Danish(G), Dutch(G), Finnish, French(R), German(G), Greek, Hungarian, Italian(R), Norwegian(G), Polish, Portuguese(R), Spanish(R) and Swedish(G).

Topics Entertainment's 33 Instant Immersion Languages is a language hobbyist's dream come true. It comes with 33 CD-ROMs, one per language, to teach you around 400 words per language. The CDs will not teach you the language, whatever the box claims, but if you're working with another resource, they're great for building a small vocabulary quickly. Buy from

The Rosetta Stone Power Pac comes as close as computer programs do to direct learning. All content is presented by pictures described in the target language. By associating words and phrases with pictures, you come to understand basic grammar and vocabulary. The method can be slow going, but it leaves a real sense of accomplishment and if you stick with it you'll find there's a lot you can say about the world. Unfortunately, it does not offer a good grounding in basic conversation, so you'll want to supplement with something like Pimsleur to get your conversations started. The Power Pac includes the first twenty lessons of the Rosetta Stone programs for Spanish(R), French(R), German(G), Italian(R), Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Lots of fun when you're looking for a new way to build your skills, but not the best place to start. Buy from

Transparent Language offers some very good products and some not so good products. The 101 Languages of the World package is interesting, but unless you're pretty self-motivated it's not going to teach you much of any language. On the other hand, the A+ French, Spanish and Italian programs are well worth a look for students trying to get a clearer picture of what they're doing in the language they're studying. Visit Transparent Languages

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