• by Aarian Marshall published in GOOD Magazine

Help Refugees in 28 Languages Using This Crowdsourced Phrasebook

In German, it’s Ich will Ihnen helfen. In phonetic Arabic, of course, it sounds very different: Biddi sa'dak. In Dari, a Persian variant spoken in Afghanistan, it’s Mekhaayam shoma ra komak konam. In English: I want to help you. That’s according a developing online phrasebook for refugees, being painstakingly put together by German volunteers.

The volunteers met on a Facebook group for Germans who wanted to find a way to help with their country’s ongoing migrant crisis. So far, they’ve collected over 300 sentences in 28 languages, Urdu, Turkish, French, Icelandic, and dialects of Kurdish among them. The easily accessible phrasebook—divided into three sections for general, medical and juridical needs—provides useful language for both refugees and those who want to help them.

Germans welcome refugees in 2014. (Flickr / Montecruz Foto)

The entries themselves give a peek, at turns hopeful and disturbing, into the lives of the estimated 366,000 refugees who have crossed into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea this year.

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German volunteers have translated 300 useful phrases—and they’re racing to add more.


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