Latest Issue

Why even being bad at a second language is pleasurable

Try it, and you find parts of your brain that had lain unused for years

By Sam Leith   February 2018

A French Supermarket in Tahiti. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Do you have an ice cream?” my wife asked the guy in the buffet car on the Eurostar in French, waving her can of beer in a friendly way. After a moment of mild confusion, he smiled and handed her a plastic beaker. My wife’s very slight Geordie accent—and assumption that “glass” in French is the same as the English word—had led to her unexpected question.

A weekend in Paris (chief finding: if you get the chance to have lunch at…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect