A year or so ago I had the brilliant (in my humble opinion) idea of making multiple-language vocabulary flashcards. I wrote my multilingual friends, whose languages ranged from Spanish to Swedish to Slovak, asking for their help and participation. I set up a Google Doc, compiled the English list of terms, filled in the equivalent French and Spanish words, found pictures, and waited for everyone else to love my idea as much I loved it.
Long story short, only my dear Russian-speaking friend Kristi found the time to help me out. Le sigh. It’s like other people have, you know, jobs and families and stuff.
Imagine my delight, then, at discovering the following at our local library:
Look! Other people have already done the hard work for me!
This book is huge – over a thousand pages and 6,000 color pictures showing the meaning of tens of thousands of terms in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
The Firefly Five Language Visual Dictionary is organized into a series of indexed sections, ranging from astronomy to food and kitchen to transport and machinery to sports and games. The illustrations are detailed with each item or part clearly labeled, including gender.
What this doesn’t have: Verbs. Adjectives. Adverbs. Etc. This is a dictionary of objects that can be shown visually – objects by definition being nouns. It also does not give the terms for abstract concepts, such as truth or beauty – not really. With a few exceptions, if the term cannot be shown by a picture or a diagram, it’s probably not in the book.
That said, what it does have is fantastic:
Used editions of The Firefly Five Language Visual Dictionary sell for around $40 on Amazon; the first edition goes for less, of course. A hefty sum, to be sure, but it’s a great investment or gift for the committed linguaphile. Definitely recommended!