I Can Speak The Inglish

, , , | Learning | March 16, 2018

I am a New Zealander, and I was applying for graduate study at a number of universities in the United States. A month or two after applications went in, I received a letter from one of the universities — a prestigious one which should know better — to inform me that my application was incomplete because I had not submitted a TOEFL score. “TOEFL” is short for “test of English as a foreign language,” and is used by US universities to ensure that foreign students have sufficient command of English to be able to study in an English language environment. It is not required for native English speakers, so of course I had not taken the test.

So, I wrote them a reply, which went something like this.

“You have asked me for a TOEFL score. As it happens, I was resident in the USA from age eight weeks to four years old, when I learned to speak. Had I remained there, I could reasonably claim that English was a foreign language, but I then moved back to New Zealand. As such, I speak English natively. I know to never split an infinitive. I avoid cliches like the plague. Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. I don’t use no double negatives. In short, I cannot in good faith take a test of English as a foreign language.”

They made no further demands for a TOEFL score.

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