“Of the several things about it, what I love about Wichita are some of its quintessential murals,” I commented nonchalantly.
Looking at me with genuine awe and wonder, he remarked, “Your English is very good!”
“What do you mean?” I retorted, skeptical about his implications.
“I wouldn’t expect an international student to know words like mural,” he replied, being as honest as he possibly could be.
I cracked up inside my head. I was amazed by how much he had belittled my diction and how many times I had found myself in this situation. My loquacity does not help the case.
While some of us may not have the most desirable of accents, in no way does it imply that we lack commendable proficiency in the language or that we are incapable of speaking with remarkable grammatical accuracy.
Personally, I was taught English hand in hand with my native language and I know several people who grew up learning English along with their respective native languages.
I have come to accept that, to an extent, mild surprise when someone speaks a non-native language fluently is reasonably justified.
However, what really gets on my nerves is having people criticise my word choice, offering American equivalents and out rightly refusing to acknowledge and accept the British counterparts. Do not correct me for pronouncing lieutenant as “left-en-ent” because you expect me to conform to the American pronunciation.
Your lack of proficiency in alternate versions of English, primarily the British, is no excuse for ridiculing me.
Nothing infuriates me more than having people defend themselves by identifying American English as an independent language.
“This is ‘Murica, bro. We don’t speak English. We speak American,” this guy I knew once asserted.
And if you fall into the pool of people that share his opinion, I have a bone to pick with you.