Thursday, April 19, 2007


For anyone who has done any traveling in countries where their mother-tongue is not the language of their destination there is a good chance a Berlitz phrasebook got put to use. The late Charles Berlitz was one of the world's most eminent linguists and spoke 32 languages. His grandfather, Maximilien Berlitz was the founder of the Berlitz Language Schools and a publishing company which produced not only phrasebooks but many other works.

All of that has been swallowed up by other corporations and Berlitz, the company, exists in name only. Berlitz Language Schools has changed hands several times and is now owned by the Japanese Benesse Corporation. Berlitz publishing arm is now a part of Apa Publications, a German firm.

OK, there's that part of the history.

The other part is that I am busy providing training to junior merchant marine officers. One of the phases of training involves a very intense course in radio communications. Sometimes... it gets a little frustrating. Getting it right is critical and often there is more than a small language problem to overcome. Enter the ghosts of Max and Charles Berlitz to lighten up the situation.

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