+0
In his article The Native Speaker in Applied Linguistics Alan Davies argues that L2-learners can become 'native speakers' of the target language, although this is extremely rare. For instance, Davies writes, it is possible for a L2-learner "to gain access to intuitions about his/her own idiolectal grammar of the target language", to "gain access to the standard grammar of the target language", to "gain the discourse and pragmatic control of a NS", and to "become a creative artist in the target language". The only thing that distinguishes the 'native speaker of a second language' from other native speakers is that the former did not acquire the language in early childhood. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Davies? Why?

Englishuser
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Comments  
What's a native speaker?
It's interesting that Davies uses a metaphor of "outside-ness" ("target language"). Yet his criteria (access to intuitions, etc.) are internal. Perhaps some version of the Turing test would be more appropriate, which relied solely on external criteria.

Then again, if the first and second (and subsequent) languages relate to different areas of the brain, there will presumably always be measurable physiological differences in the use of L1 and L2.

MrP
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Hi milky,

I would define a native speaker as a person who acquired a language in early childhood. It is possible to be a native speaker of two or more languages, and your native language could change, as long as you acquire the new language early enough.

However, I would be anxious to point out that, in practice, it lacks relevance whether or not someone is a native speaker. There are people who speak and write English much more elegantly than most native speakers. Yet, this doesn't make them native speakers. Instead, I would call them expert speakers. Not all native speakers are expert speakers of their native language, and the other way around.

Englishuser
Hi Mr Pedantic,

You wrote:
Then again, if the first and second (and subsequent) languages relate to different areas of the brain, there will presumably always be measurable physiological differences in the use of L1 and L2.
Do you believe this?

Englishuser
EnglishuserHi Mr Pedantic,

You wrote:
Then again, if the first and second (and subsequent) languages relate to different areas of the brain, there will presumably always be measurable physiological differences in the use of L1 and L2.
Do you believe this?

Englishuser

If the condition is met, yes.

(Bilingualism in the commonly accepted sense might be a different matter, however.)

MrP
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Hi MrPedantic,

Have you investigated this yourself? Or what makes you believe that it is so relevant in which part of your brain your language skills in a particular language are stored, so to speak?

Englishuser
Yes, always if the speaker of a different language begins learning another before adolescence. Other cases exist but it takes more work. In Poland, I would categorise about halve of all people with Masters degrees in English Philology as effective native speakers. Generally, people who move to a different language environment every seven years from the age of seven seem to learn languages the best.

There are a few famous people who have pulled this trick off. Actresses Rula Lenska and Natasia Kinski, Californian govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger (accent notwithstanding), possibly singer Freddy Mercury aka Farrokh Bulsara (he was born and lived his early life in Zanzibar though I'm not sure what his first language was), and British TV presenter Ulrika Johnson.
<However, I would be anxious to point out that, in practice, it lacks relevance whether or not someone is a native speaker. There are people who speak and write English much more elegantly than most native speakers. Yet, this doesn't make them native speakers. Instead, I would call them expert speakers.>

A more precise and valuable term.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more