ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: I was thinking I might like to learn Dutch, but I’ve never learned a foreign language before. Do you have any advice that will make things easier for me? —Sincerely, Hendrik M. Bilderdijk, Ph.D., Professor of Indo-European Languages, Duck Hollow University.

Dear Sir: You have made an excellent choice. Dutch is a good first foreign language to tackle, because it is simply English very badly spelled. You will have little trouble if you remember to spell words the way they sound rather than the way English spelling rules dictate that they ought to be spelled. Once you have mastered Dutch, you can go on to German, which is English spelled even worse, and the Scandinavian languages, which are English spelled really atrociously.

If for some reason Dutch is too intimidating at the beginning, you might start with West Frisian, which is a fever dream of English in an alternate universe where the Norman Conquest never happened.