Refugee Phrasebook

Print versions edit

The printable versions of the phrasebook are organized according to the regions where refugees arrive. Further versions can be added as needed.

please update versions regularly with the progress in the Gdocs, see below

Phrasebooks for Helpers edit

A separate booklet with only phrases for helpers

Phrases for Helpers - Germany (2015-09-28) - German, English, Kurdish, Bo/Cro/Ser, Bangla + phonetics, Farsi + phonetic, Arabic + phonetics

Phrases for Helpers - Greece (2015-09-15)


Short Version edit

Contains minimal vocabulary; print ranges: 7 to 50 pages

Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden edit

2015-10-26 German - Swedish - Arabic - Serbian - Farsi - Albanian - Kurdish - Romanian - Russian - English

2015-09-20: Austria/Germany/Switzerland: German, English, French, Bos/Cro/Ser, Kurdish, Turkish, Bangla, Urdu, Farsi, Arabic

Austria/Germany/Switzerland: German, English, Bos/Cro/Ser, Albanian, Arabic


Welcome to Austria, Germany, Switzerland

Balkans (Bos/Cro/Ser, Hungary, Macedonia, Slovenia) edit

Greece + Balkans edit

Greece April 2016-04-05: general orientation, juridical, links Standard Arabic +phonetics / English / [ فارسی. ] Farsi / Greek alphabet + phonetics / Kurdish (Kurmancî) / Urdu)

Greece March 2016-03-22 (more icons + Standard Arabic +phonetics / English / [ فارسی. ] Farsi / Greek alphabet + phonetics / Kurdish (Kurmancî) / Urdu + links

Italy edit

Netherlands, Belgium edit

Online version edit

Target languages: German, English, Greek, Hungarian

Select the language you want to translate from and print right away

About the Phrasebook edit

  • The Refugee Phrasebook is a multilingual tool aiming to empower refugees who just arrived in Europe by providing basic useful vocabulary. The project was realised with the precious contribution, support and expertise of many contributors and translators worldwide.
  • Audience: Refugees in Europe. The phrasebook can be easily modified for other areas and languages.
  • Description: This open phrasebook provides lists of helpful vocabulary for refugees. Each main chapters of the book targets a specific area. This areas language is included in every subchapter, with further translations.
  • Goals: Provide vocabulary for basic orientation in everyday life, including topics of law and health
  • WikiBooks Facilitation: MNeuschaefer, Hannah Davis and Castroblob
  • Website:

Help edit

if you need help or want help, check this out: providing_help

How to create new versions edit

The Sources edit

The book is based on the following Google Docs:

Please check the Google Doc versions regularly for updates. Important:Do not change any phrases in the wikibooks, only comment on the Gdoc version

With wikibooks edit

Create a wikibooks account edit

Set up a new chapter edit

[[/Name of chapter/]]
  • click on this chapter

Insert template edit

Clean up the Gdoc sheets edit

  • Open one of these Google Docs on the main page
  • select the appropriate sheet (e.g. "Short version" or "Phrases for helpers")
  • In the Gdoc, choose "Make a copy" to copy the contents of the translations into a new sheet
    • Structure the cells
      • "Select all" (click on upper left corner of table)
      • choose "unmerge cells", the icon is in the middle and looks like two cells merging
      • choose View --> unfreeze rows and View --> unfreeze columns
      • use standardized names, e.g. "Arabic / Syrian", "English" etc
    • Remove all line breaks
      • select Edit --> Find all
      • Mark "Regular Expressions"
      • search for the following string:
      • replace this string with " / " (space slash space) to transform linebreaks (-> replace all)
  • Arrange the languages in the desired order
  • Rename the language column headers
  • Select the columns you need

Convert Gdoc content edit

  • Go to the gdoc copy that you already cleaned up
  • Select the necessary lines
  • Copy the content from the selected gdoc columns and convert with or a similar converter
  • copy the necessary lines, e.g.
[unnecessary crud, e.g. "align" etc]
| Arabic / Syrian||Farsi||Albanian||Bos/Ser/Cro||Macedonian||English
[...'''copy everything in between!''')]
* insert these lines in the appropriate place, in wikibooks e.g.
! Arabic / Syrian!!Farsi!!Albanian!!Bos/Ser/Cro!!Macedonian!!English
[...'''paste content here!''')]
  • check and adjust the name of the headers

 ! (language1) !! (language2) !! (language3) !! (Language4) !! (language5) !! (language6)

  • write a summary in the save dialog (e.g. "inserted health content", save
  • da capo al fine

Print Wikibook edit

  • check that your wikibook is correct
  • Open the page with a modern browser like google chrome (recommended)
  • print from your browser
  • save as pdf (mac) or print to pdf with third party software (PC)
  • include the link on the main page (under "new versions")

Congratulations, you converted a wikibook! Please let us know at info@refugeephrasebook that a new version exists. Thanks!

Automatic conversion edit

LibreOffice and wiki-publisher edit

note: this method is not working for anyone so far, please stick to the manual method for the time being

  1. Install LibreOffice and the wiki-publisher plugin.
  2. Download the Gdoc as opendocument (odt/ods).
  3. Export to MediaWiki format.

Automatic export to PDF edit

refugeePhrasebookCreator edit

A bash script to automagically create pdf version is available from

Some features:

  • Built-in configurations for phrasebooks available on
    • Basic conversation for refugees
    • Basic conversation for helpers
    • Basic conversation, short version
    • Medical phrasebook
    • Juridical phrasebook
  • Configuration system to add more phrasebooks from GoogleDocs
  • Template file for simple changing of output
  • Automatic calculation of landscape or portrait format
  • Automatic detection of Arabic, Bengal, Cyrillic, ge'ez, greek and latin writing systems. More will come.
  • Fonts included, no installation necessary

Runs on Linux and Windows. OS X is untested, but should be possible. It is under active development. Feedback, feature requests and bug reports are welcome.

(Disclaimer: this entry was written by the developer)

bash-scripts-for-pdf-generation edit

note: this method is under development but might be helpful for some people
technical-natives (knowledge of TeX, XeTeX, bash-scripts, ...) are are welcome to volunteer their brains and ideas

Please visit the github-site, you are welcome to give feedback on current issues

current version-Download as ZIP
please be aware - this is just a snapshot - redownload to get updates ...
the .md files in the doc-directory are actually text-files :)

next steps will be: users should be able to

  1. open a site
  2. some stuff...
  3. get a pdf for printing

With design software (Indesign / Scribus /...) edit

conversion with pandoc (experimental) edit

To easily create a beautiful print version with professional design software, we recommend you create a wikibooks version first (see below). This way there is also an online version of the book to link to. Based on the wikibooks version, conversion is easy:

  • click on "printable version" on the side menu in wikibooks
  • save the page as HTML with your browser (file -> save)
  • have [Pandoc] installed
  • open terminal
  • convert HTML to ICML using this command:
  pandoc --standalone -t ICML -o output.icml input.html (output.icml as the output filename, input.html as the input filename)
  • place icml file in template

Note: Non-western scripts are often rendered unreadable after being processed with this method. Please consult with a native speaker before printing.

Revise newly create versions edit

and revise

Checking the integrity of a RPB new version is an essential step. Do not skip it. The following subsections describe some of the often encountered problems have appeared in print versions. Check if your version suffers from any of them.

Broken Arabic scripts edit

Arabic script can be displayed erroneously.

Test for integrity of Arabic script.

If "hello" does not look like the green one, conversion most likely went wrong.
The sentence in green is correct.
the sentence in the left lower corner is: in the wrong order and the letters are not connected
the sentence on the right lower corner: the letters are not connected (but the order is correct)

Native speakers might be able to decipher it but it takes more concentration I hear, so it should be avoided.

This issue is known to arise when pasting Arabic to Adobe inDesign. To paste Arabic correctly see How to paste Arabic

Correct translations edit

Check with translators before you print, e.g. Khaled Barakeh (on Facebook ) or the Translators team FB group

Testpatterns and fonts edit

Here you can find information on testpatterns and fonts you want to use when typesetting languages you do not know: Typographic-Testpatterns

Chapter Template edit

Template <- use this as a template for new chapters

Resources edit

Refugee centers edit

Please help complete

Titles, Maps & Pictograms edit

Translation of pictograms' captions and chapter titles in gdoc sheetPlease help complete

New versions (in progress) edit

Insert your new versions here. After the editors checked them, we add them to the section on top.

Nordic Countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland) edit

(in progress)

Want to test conversion methods? You can experiment in this chapter:

  1. sandbox

Older / outdated versions edit

2015-09-12 - 2015-09-14

2015-09-07 Welcome to Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia (shorter; Arabic, English, BCS, Macedonian, Farsi)

2015-09-10 Welcome to Hungary, Bosnia, Croatia (shorter)

2015-09-10 Welcome to Serbia and Hungary

2015-09-10 Welcome to Hungary, Bosnia, Croatia (Dari) (includes Dari)

2015-09-12 Arabic/Syrian, Farsi, Albanian, Bos/Cro/Ser, Hungarian Arabic/Syrian, Farsi, Albanian, Bos/Cro/Ser, Hungarian

2015-09-12 Welcome to Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia

  • (includes Syrian/Arabic, Farsi, Pashto / Albanian, Macedonian, Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian, German / French / English (Short Version))

2015-09-12 Arabic/Syrian, Farsi, Albanian, Bos/Cro/Ser, Hungarian

2015-09-13 Fusha, Farsi, Albanian, Bos/Cro/Ser, Hungarian (includes Fusha Arabic instead of the Syrian dialect)

2015-09-20 Welcome to Austria, Germany, Switzerland: Arabic, Farsi, Bangla, Urdu, Turkish, Kurdish, Bos/Cro/Ser, French, English, German

documentation edit

technical documentation (for references) can be found here- documentation-overview