Humor of Speaking with Skill

Humor of Speaking Japanese with Skill in Tokyo is adapted from a humorous book by David Sedaris: ‘When You Are Engulfed in Flames’, with this part about struggling to learn Japanese in Tokyo.

Here is an excerpt from the chapter The Smoking Section, pages 287-288:


It might be different for actual Japanese people, but as a visitor I am regularly overwhelmed by how kind and accommodating everyone is.

This woman at our local flower shop, for instance. I asked her for directions to the monorail, and after she patiently gave them to me I decided to buy a Hello Kitty bouquet. What it basically amounts to is a carnation with pointed ears. Add two plastic dots for the eyes and one more for the nose, and you’ve got a twenty dollar cat.

“Cute,” I said, (in Japanese)

and when the florist agreed, I supersized the compliment to

“very cute.”

“You speak with skill,” she told me.

Drunk with praise, I then observed that the weather was nice. She said it certainly was, and after paying I headed for the door.

Anywhere else I’d say good-bye when exiting a shop or restaurant.

Here, though, I use a phrase I learned from my instructional CD.

“Now I am leaving,” I announce,

and the people around me laugh,

perhaps because I am stating the obvious.



Humor Speaking Japanese Slowly is more from David Sedaris.

Humor of Japanese Vocabulary Cards is more from David Sedaris.

Humor of Japanese Placement Exam is more from David Sedaris.

Humor of Japanese School is more from David Sedaris.

Humor of Japanese Indirectness is more from David Sedaris.

Humor of the Last Day of Japanese School is more from David Sedaris.

Return to Humor of Language Learners.


Looking for something else?

Use this search feature to find it:

Custom Search


Know a Funny Story About Language Learning?

Share your humorous stories about language learning with the world.

Everyone has a few tales to tell. Tell us yours!

Anything that happened to you, or a friend. Something you heard, or read.

Any humorous stories about using foreign languages on your travels.

Any foreign signs mislead you? Any tangled translations seen abroad?

Your name will be on the story, so you may become famous on the internet.

Enter a Title for YOUR Humorous Story:

Tell Us YOUR Funny Story about Language Learning![ ? ]

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

Your Name

(first or full name)

Your Location

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

Check box to agree to these submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)


Easiest Languages have thousands of words similar to English, so:

“This is The Easiest Way to Begin Learning Foreign Languages.”

Helping More People Begin Foreign Languages The Easiest Way.