Do you agree with this statement?

"Native-speaker intuitions are not always dependable. Being a native speaker does not automatically give us a conscious, clear and comprehensive picture of our language in all its contexts of use."
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I agree 100%.
In linguistics we've studied the fact that being linguistically competent doesn't mean that you are able to analyse linguistic structures . Everyone might make mistakes when using the mother tongue and it's quite natural .

Milky , I do agree on this but I just wanted to share this information . Emotion: smile
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Yes, I agree, but a native speaker's command of his language is usually superior to that of those who have not lived in total immersion. It is practically impossible to master a language if you are not in constant contact with those who speak it - and mould it unwittingly - all the time.

As far as English is concerned, the major difficulties lie in spelling, pronunciation and idioms. Fortunately the grammar is extremely simple. English has a very large vocabulary and yet people use only a handful of words when they speak. That wouldn't be possible in many other languages, but English words have such a lot of meanings that you get by using just a few hundred words. Besides, English-speaking people tend to speak in fixed phrases and anything that differs from those phrases is liable to be regarded as unidiomatic.

When an Englishman orders a pint of lager, he orders a pint of lager. Almost invariably he uses those words. An English woman once came to work in a Helsinki bar and one of her greatest problems was to learn the seemingly countless expressions people used to order a beer. That's what she told me!

Some examples of the different ways to use get:
I don't get on with him.
Let's get on the bus!
Let's get off the bus!
He's getting on my nerves.
It's getting late.
I get money from him every day.
Get out of here!
I can't get down from up here.

'Get' has dozens of meanings. In my native language I need a different verb for each of the above sentences, in English, 'get' is just fine.

Grammar is another thing. Many people know little about the grammar of their native language, whatever that language is. And they don't necessarily have to know much about it. Language evolved before grammatical terms to describe it, which proves that speaking is possible without a knowledge of grammatical terminology. Emotion: smile

However, multilingualism gives one a wider perspective and a better insight into the peculiarities of even one's native language. I do agree to some extent with Simon Potter, who says in his book Language in the Modern World: "What do they know of English who only English know?"
I agree with the second part; "in all its contexts" surely makes it inevitably true.

But I'm not quite sure about the ways in which native-speaker intuition could be unreliable. Do you have any examples in mind, Milky?

MrPedanticBut I'm not quite sure about the ways in which native-speaker intuition could be unreliable. Do you have any examples in mind, Milky?


What do you mean by "the ways", MrP? If I get you correctly, the reason behind giving a book to an editor before it publishes is that someone else's intuition, the writer, is not always reliable. Sorry if I missed your point.
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I'm not confident that many copy editors in publishing houses or on newspapers/magazines – British ones, at least – have a particularly conscious knowledge of grammar, unless they happen to specialise in linguistics; if they do have a reference work on their desk, it tends to be Partridge or Fowler, or the Times Style Guide. So perhaps in such cases we're simply exchanging the writer's native speaker's intuition for his editor's!

To answer my own question: perhaps native speaker intuition is "unreliable" where someone insists that a non-standard usage (e.g. "between you and I") is standard. But I'm not sure whether that's what Milky meant.

Yes, that's a good example. And also McDonald's slogan: I'm loving it! (I suppose it has suggested by a native speaker.)

I don't know about editors in English speaking countries. However, I took an editing course in my own country, it's not always preferance of the editor's taste or intuition over the authors. Sometimes the author's intuition is terrible! Believe me, I cannot enjoy reading a Persian newspaper article because of the distracting numorous grammatical mistakes in them.
exactly, native speakers intuition is based on tacit, or unconsciouss knowledge of the way their language works. Speaking a language is not equivalent to being able to explain how that langauge works just as having a heart does not qualify one to perform open heart surgery.
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