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September 29, 2007

Linguality.com: 'Breeze through the same books Parisians are reading — without a dictionary'


I happened on a full page ad for this company in last Sunday's New York Times Book Review.

A sample (above) from one of its annotated books appeared in the ad, and just for the heck of it I decided to see how much I could understand — without any French language training or capability beyond that gleaned from reading footnotes and whatnot all my life.

I was amazed to find that I could, albeit very slowly, make my way through the French text with the aid of the facing page's definitions.

It seems to me that you could acquire a working reading knowledge of a language this way if you had plenty of time, even without any formal instruction whatsoever.

From the website:


    If you love good books and speak basic French, become a charter member of Linguality’s French Book Club and read recently published French fiction and nonfiction almost as effortlessly as you read a novel in English! The key is the extensive glossary we place opposite every page of text.

    We're not talking about a few scattered definitions. EVERY difficult word and expression is defined, typically over 2,000 entries per book. It’s the Linguality innovation: current fiction and nonfiction with so much annotation you don’t need a translation, or even a dictionary. With just an intermediate command of French, you can enjoy outstanding contemporary francophone literature and dramatically expand your French vocabulary.


The concept is great and the execution wonderful but the marketing is terrible and dooms this company from the get-go.


Because by far its strongest selling point — the compelling demonstration up top of exactly how it works, with side-by-side pages of annotations and text — appears nowhere on its website.

Or if it does, neither I nor my crack research team could find it, which is the equivalent of it not being there from our perspective.

Because if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, it makes the same sound as one hand clapping.

Too bad for Linguality.

Yet another company with too many smart people working hard — but not smart.

On another note entirely, the new crack photography team doesn't seem any better than the old bunch.

I guess that's what happens when you work in a blogging wasteland.

September 29, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Thanks everyone for taking a look at our web site. We hope our newly launched site is a little easier to navigate and that you are better able to find the sample PDF download! From the comments we have received so far I think our subscibers are enjoying the books as much as we did putting them together.

CEO, Linguality

Posted by: Jim Roberts | Oct 5, 2007 11:38:24 PM

Ya'll are slipping -- there are PDFs of what exactly it is that you would see...


Would have been a great help in my French Lit course...though I ended up buying english translations and reading side by side. Pretty lazy on my part. I'd have loved to have something that would have forced me to read the defs and learn (which I should have known to begin with before signing up for the course :-)

Posted by: clifyt | Sep 29, 2007 9:35:48 PM

I'd like to get this for my wife, but you are right, there is no place on the website that I can show her how it works! To spend almost $200 without being able to demonstrate what I'm giving her doesn't make much sense to me.

Posted by: Paul Biba | Sep 29, 2007 9:27:56 PM

Too bad there's not a Spanish version of this.

Posted by: Al Christensen | Sep 29, 2007 7:44:28 PM

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