LINGUIST List 12.1136

Wed Apr 25 2001

Sum: TOEFL and Konkani Speakers

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. OHKADO Masayuki, TOEFL and Konkani Speakers

Message 1: TOEFL and Konkani Speakers

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 13:39:31 +0900
From: OHKADO Masayuki <>
Subject: TOEFL and Konkani Speakers

For Query 12.51

Some time ago I posted a query why Konkani speakers
consistantly mark the highest score in TOEFL.

I am grateful to the following four people who kindly replied
to my question.

OHKADO Masayuki
Chubu University
Aichi-ken Kasugai-shi
Matsumoto-cho 1200, JAPAN

tel: 0568-51-1111
fax: 0568-51-1141

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Mr. Francisco Alves, who is a native speaker of Konkani:

Soon after Goa (where most of the Konkani speakers come from) was 
taken over by the Indian Government in 1961 from 451 years of 
Portuguese rule, English was adopted as the medium of communication 
in schools and administration. Besides many of the Goan expatriates 
from the former British East Africa returned to Goa with English 
as their only language of communication. So, now we have a whole 
generation of speakers whose first language is English only.

A brief introduction to the history of Goa may help in 
understanding the situation little better.

** By the way, Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi. For more 
information refer to "A Description of Konkani" by Matthew 

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Prof. Anthea Fraser GUPTA wrote:

The explanation is clear. They are likely not to be foreign speakers 
of English. Most Konkani speakers doing TOEFL tests are likely 
to have had most or some of their education in English, and, being 
mostly from Southern India, have experienced life in a place where 
English is widely used in many spheres of life. Some of them will 
in fact be native speakers of English, and the rest will be highly 
proficient second language speakers of English. 

The linguistic relationship between languages is not the main 
predictor of skill in a language. The social setting of learning is 
more important.

Within Europe, for example, if you were to compare skills in 
English of native speakers of French with those of native speakers 
of Finnish, the Finns would be well ahead, because English is 
widely (and well) taught in Finland and is regarded (as in all the 
Scandinavian countries and in the Netherlands) as an essential 
part of education, which is not the case in France. Yet Finnish is 
unrelated to English.
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Mr./Ms. Johannes wrote:

I could imagine that a Konkani speaker would only try to 
pass the TOEFL if he has done a lot for English, whereas 
a Dutch speaker is biased by the closeness of the two 
languages. By the way, Dutch is not the closest language 
to English, but Frisian (spoken in the northwest of the 
Netherlands and on some German islands) and Low Saxon 
(the language spoken in the northern part of Germany (my 
mother tongue BTW).

[Frisian not listed, Dutch is the language closest to 
English in the relevant data. OHKADO Masayuki]
- ---------------------------------------------------------------
Prof. Eleanor Batchelder wrote:

Are the number of test-takers for each language listed? 
It is possible that a language which has only a very few, 
very good takers will produce a very high average score, when 
compared with languages that have more takers and thus a larger, 
more normal distribution. In such a case, one should not include 
very small groups in such a comparison, since the individual
test-taker has a disproportionate influence on the average, 
and thus the average is not necessarily representative of all 
potential test-takers fromthat language.

Are you looking at a printed report, or is the information on 
the Web?

[The data are available at: OHKADO Masayuki]
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