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How do you define a native speaker?


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How do you define a native speaker? #31 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:47 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Quote:
Only if you should feel inferior to those standards. But why should you...


As I said, it's easier to get a teaching job if you're a native speaker than when you are not. So, it's often not a question of feeling inferior, but of being discriminated against. The image of inferiority often comes from outside, from society. Not always does "native-speaker required for..." have merit, does it?

Quote:
Yes, for example with the way you write.


Out of interest, could you please point out the quaintness you've seen in my writing?

Thanks.
Molly
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How do you define a native speaker? #32 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:52 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Quote:
To answer your question, a native English speaker is someone who started off with the English language and predominately the same language throughout his/her childhood.


Do you think it is possible for a nonnative speaker to reach a level where she/he can use the language as proficiently as an adult, educated native-speaker? If so, how should we label such a person?
Molly
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How do you define a native speaker? #33 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:56 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Someone mentioned earlier that a person can only be classed as a native-speaker of one language, but what about bi-lingual people, those who have grown up speaking two languages since early childhood?
Molly
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How do you define a native speaker? #34 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:10 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

My opinion is that it would take twice as much time for a non-native speaker to reach the same level as a native speaker. The odds are that the older the non-speaker is, the harder it is for him/her to learn.

I came to the U.S when I was 11 and I feel that I can never reach the same level as an average educated native speaker. The fact that I missed 11 years of the English language is just way too much for me to catch up. This not only applies to me but also applies to many of my friends who came to America relatively around the same age as me.

Anything is possible but language is something that you have to grow up with and learn it without knowing that you are learning it. Non-native speakers can become great English communicators but rarely can they become as fluent as native educated speakers. If I could use the English language as well as native speakers, I would still not label myself as a native speaker. I will just tell them that I put lots of efforts into learning the language..................

>>Do you think it is possible for a nonnative speaker to reach a level where she/he can use the language as proficiently as an adult, educated native-speaker? If so, how should we label such a person?
Ched133
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How do you define a native speaker? #35 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:11 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Hi Molly,

You wrote:

Quote:
We're back!


Who are we? I'm intrigued.

Alan
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How do you define a native speaker? #36 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:19 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

I have lots of friends who grew up speaking 2 languages. However, their bi-lingual skills are often not equal. I have a friend who grew up speaking Chinese for the first 3 years and later speaks predomonately English. His English is nearly flawless but he can only communicate in Chinese at a 5th grade level. I would call him a native English speaker although he grew up speaking Chinese and only Chinese at home.

Most bi-lingual speakers have a main language of choice. It is very hard to be flawless in both.

>>Someone mentioned earlier that a person can only be classed as a native-speaker of one language, but what about bi-lingual people, those who have grown up speaking two language since early childhood?
Ched133
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How do you define a native speaker? #37 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Alan wrote:
Hi Molly,

You wrote:

Quote:
We're back!


Who are we? I'm intrigued.

Alan


Quote:
users of the English language with a native speaker-like performance.


See the post I was replying to.
Molly
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Joined: 12 Feb 2008
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How do you define a native speaker? #38 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:29 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

ched133 wrote:
In the U.S., most companies much rather have a non-native speaker who can speak properly and professionally than just any native speaker from the street.

What do you mean by 'any native speaker from the street'?

ched133 wrote:
When i went back to Asia last summer, I saw many Americans teaching English and could not able to explain the basic grammar rules. They just say that this way sounds better and that way sounds bad.

All you need to know in order to speak English 'properly' is what sounds good and what doesn't. Why do you need an American to explain basic grammar rules to you? If you really think those rules might help you in any way, you can find them on the Internet or in any dictionary or textbook. You should learn much more important things from an American native speaker than just basic grammar rules.

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How do you define a native speaker? #39 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:58 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Quote:
"In education, the notion of "native speaker" is used to denote a person who masters a language as her/his first language and who is entitled (and much preferred over non-native) to give proficiency training in this language."

In And Out Of English: For Better, For Worse? By Gunilla M. Anderman, Margaret Rogers.


It seems most people here would agree with that. Am I right?

It goes on:

Quote:
However, someone with English a her/his mother tongue who has lived in The Netherlands for more than 30 years can hardly be called a full native speaker of English any longer: there is too much interference between his/her mother tongue and Dutch.


How many of you would agree with that quote?
Molly
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Joined: 12 Feb 2008
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How do you define a native speaker? #40 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:14 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Molly wrote:
Quote:
The question is who cares if a German authority creates their own system that categorizes and classifies people?

Some of the people who wish to remain employed in such universities, I guess.


The vast majority of English native speakers who have lived 10+ years in Germany have been able to establish their own network of clients and customers so that they don't depend on the idiosyncrasies of some German civil servants. Taking self-initiative and thinking like an entrepreneur rather than a servant is part of the culture of English native speakers.

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How do you define a native speaker? #41 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:33 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Quote:
Taking self-initiative and thinking like an entrepreneur rather than a servant is part of the culture of English native speakers.


But there are many reasons for wanting to teach in a university. Your simplified reasons are not the whole story.

And what you call simple idiosyncrasies may, in reality, be facts with a solid base. It may be the case that one cannot really be called a fully native speaker after living many years in a non-English speaking country.

So, can we agree that the very concept of "native speaker" is in fact fuzzy? It is not clear-cut, is it?
Molly
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Joined: 12 Feb 2008
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How do you define a native speaker? #42 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:54 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

The quoted section above continues in reference to translators:

Quote:
"The most important question here is: can language criteria be developed to demarcate non-native speakers from a range of near-native speakers and full native speakers on a sliding-scale? This is hardly possible, and therefore it is my view that the notion of "native-speaker" is out of date and should no longer be used to stipulate who should translate into English as a non-native language."

In And Out Of English: For Better, For Worse? By Gunilla M. Anderman, Margaret Rogers
.

Extending that beyond the question of translation and translators, is it also hardly possible to develop language criteria "to demarcate non-native speakers from a range of near-native speakers and full native speakers on a sliding-scale" in the world of ESL, for example? Is the term "native speaker" outdated there also?
Molly
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How do you define a native speaker? #43 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:55 am   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Molly wrote:
Torsten wrote:
I wouldn't use any of these terms because they don't say much about the person.

Does native-speaker sometimes say "too much" about the person? I mean, I've met many adult native-speakers who are quite far from being expert users of their own language. Also met many adult nonnative-speakers who are much more expert than many native-speakers. Have you experienced the same?

It often happens that non-native English speakers have larger vocabularies and more complete theoretical knowledge of grammar than some native speakers do. But having that vocabulary and all that metalinguistic knowledge doesn't guarantee that one will speak or write better than a native speaker who doesn't have it. That native speaker will almost always have a much better feel for English collocations, discourse rules and the cultural schemata that underlie the use of the language.

It's possible to produce simple paragraphs that are immediately understood by people from Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand and Australia that English speakers from India can't make sense of, even though they know every word used in them. This is simply because the Indians lack the anglophone cultural background to understand them. This "trick" also works with Germans who have been in the US for 10 or 15 years and speak English that is superficially indistinguishable from that of a native speaker.
Jamie (K)
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How do you define a native speaker? #44 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:33 pm   How do you define a native speaker?
 

Molly wrote:
Quote:
Molly, I think you have some kind of complex, or you wouldn't be pursuing this matter so doggedly.


You're allowed to think whatever you like, Jamie, as long as it doesn't prevent discussion. If you look around the ESL world, you'll see that the question of what is a native-speaker is quite topical indeed. If you don't want to be part of that discussion, why comment here?

In many contexts, "native-speaker" is used to mean "expert-speaker", with the consequence of many nonnative expert-speakers being discriminated against, for one example.

More people "with a complex"?

What you're engaging in is a sort of semantic play that "intellectuals" in the linguistics and ESL fields engage in. They pretend there is some kind of equivalency between native speakers and others, and that the differences shouldn't matter. I have read plenty of articles about this, and sat through many absurd lectures. One of the professors went on for 45 minutes about a case of "discrimination" against a non-native English speaker from Venezuela and tried to make everyone think it was just a case of pure jingoism. She didn't mention until the very end -- and only in a quick sentence -- that (a) the man was illiterate, and (b) his accent was so heavy and difficult to understand that it put his coworkers in physical danger in the type of work they did. The professor acted as if these fundamental problems were just irrelevant side issues.

Outside the fantasy world of intellectuals, the difference between native and non-native speakers of a language is relatively clear, and "native" speakers can include people who learn the language as late as 7 years old. Some non-native speakers have a superficially better command of the standard language than some native speakers and others don't, but they usually don't have a better command, or even as good a command, as the best native users of the language. Outside the fantasy world of intellectuals, it is sometimes necessary to "discriminate" based on people's language proficiency. A speaker of heavy Indian English can't be trusted to edit a newspaper that's supposed to be in standard English, but neither can a native speaker with a poor language education. Someone with a difficult accent or an odd vocabulary can't be trusted in jobs where quick, clear communication is necessary to prevent injury or death. A Russian teacher of English with a slight accent and almost perfect grammar is a good choice as an ESL instructor, but a Russian teacher of English who still can't understand the word "corporate" after 15 minutes of explanation and coaching is not a good choice.

All of these things are clear, unless you're immersed in the wild, wacky world of "intellectuals".

The author of this article...
http://serwisy.gazeta.pl/edukacja/1,51809,1581038.html
...is clearly not a native speaker, but a non-native English user whose problematic English has been edited by a native speaker, to the extent that it can be repaired at all. The dead giveaways are (1) how difficult the article is to read, despite its simple vocabulary; and (2) the author has an eccentric understanding of the term "native speaker", which he seems to think means "a person from an English-speaking country who moves abroad to teach".
Jamie (K)
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How do you define a native speaker? #45 (permalink) Thu Mar 13, 2008 13:41 pm   How do you define a native speaker?
 

That native speaker will almost always have a much better feel for English collocations, discourse rules and the cultural schemata that underlie the use of the language.

What would be the cultural scemata of British Standard English, for example?
Molly
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Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 4017

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