Keen to learn a little Spanish before my holiday in several weeks, I recently bought an 'Instant Spanish' book and CD set.
"Study for thirty-five minutes a day for six weeks and you'll speak Spanish," it promises. Doesn't seem very instant to me - not compared to, say, instant mashed potato.
"Stir your flakes for thirty-five minutes a day for six weeks and you'll have mashed potato..."
I'm also amused by some of the strange sentences that language learning sets teach you as a beginner. Along with the Spanish for 'my name is James', 'good evening', and 'how are you?' I've learnt 'I have a large house and it costs a lot of money. And I have a Mercedes'. This is likely to get me mugged if nothing else.
I can also say (in Spanish) 'I worked for the Bank of Spain for three years' - which is neither useful nor true. And it might make people wonder why my Spanish isn't better - although perhaps it could explain the Mercedes...
Harry Bosch, trainee prescriptivist
3 days ago