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Little, Brown and Company

Calypso - Plot & Excerpts

Pimsleur, it’s called, and I first used it in 2006, when preparing for a trip to Japan. “I am American,” I was taught to announce, somewhat sheepishly, at the start of lesson one. Half an hour later, I’d advanced to 日本語がお上手ですね, which translates to “Your Japanese is so good!”
It seemed a bit early in the game to be receiving compliments, but still I learned to recognize the phrase and to respond to it with ありがとうございます、ですが私はまだそんなに上手ではありません (“Thank you very much, but I am not really skilled yet”). This came in handy as, once I got to Tokyo, every time I opened my mouth I was clobbered with praise, even if I was just saying something simple like “Huh?”
The same was true with a number of other phrases I’d considered unnecessary but heard again and again once I arrived in Japan. The fact is that, unless we’re with friends or family, we’re all like talking dolls, endlessly repeating the same trite and tiresome lines: “Hello, how are you?”

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Read books by author David Sedaris

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