Phrase Books Less Needed Now

Phrase Books Less Needed Now is adapted from ‘Easy, Tiger’, a humorous article by David Sedaris from the New Yorker magazine of July 11, 2011.


Now for the travelling American there’s less of a need for phrase books.

Not only do we expect everyone to speak our language: we expect everyone to be fluent.

I rarely hear an American vacationer say to a waiter or shopkeeper in Europe, “Your English is so good.”

Rather we act as if this were part of his job, like carrying a tray or making change.

In this respect, phrase books and audio programs are an almost charming throwback,

a suggestion that the TRAVELLER put himself out there, that he open himself to criticism

and not the person who’s just trying to scrape by selling meatballs in Bumfucchio, Italy.

One of the things I like about Tokyo is the constant reinforcement one gets for trying.

“You are very skilled at Japanese,” everyone keeps telling me.

I know people are just being polite, but it spurs me on.



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