During wartime soldiers often found themselves interacting with civilian populations who spoke little or no English. Whilst some men had a smattering of French or German, it was far more unlikely they would know any Dutch or Danish for instance. In order to allow men to be understood and make simple requests a number of different phrase books were produced with common phrases printed in them to be read out as required. These books were slow to use however and would only work for one language at once. This clearly exercised the brains of at least one publisher and the result was today’s object, a “Point if Out Picture Speech Book”:
The title page shows that this publication was specifically aimed at Allied soldiers and was published in 1944:
Instructions on how to use the book are printed inside the covers of the book in a number of different languages, here the English instruction give guidance to the main users of the book, British soldiers:
The book is filled with pictures that the user can point at to show to someone who doesn’t speak the same language so they can understand what the person is saying. The book covers items as diverse as motor cars:
Different types of luggage:
A visit to the barber’s shop:
Or the contents of a room:
Whilst the book is a clever idea, I suspect its actual utility would have been limited and most British troops managed to make themselves understood without too many difficulties!
We had a very similar thing laminated with plastic for medical use in Afghanistan. Standard Red Cross translation books are not of much use as many Afghans are illiterate.