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Will you ever/can you declare yourself as native speaker?
Thread poster: Mari Noller

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sez you Apr 26, 2017

xxx00000000 wrote:

A native language is one you acquired in early childhood. Languages you didn't speak then will never become native. But you can convey the fact that your mastery of the language is in all respects that of a native speaker of equivalent educational level by using 'nativelike' instead of 'native'.

So Can could describe her languages as native Japanese and nativelike English -- if I understood correctly.

Best,
Esther


That's just an opinion, not an empirically demonstrable statement. Self-identification as a native speaker is up to the individual.

Or do we think that childhood is some stage in life determined by certain universals? It is not. And your opening question, Will you ever/can you declare yourself as [a] native speaker? comes across as a bit of a condescending statement, even if you're not aware of it. Otherwise, why ask it? Out of idle curiosity?

I wish we who are translators read more and establish our own opinions based on facts, not just preconceived notions or anecdotal evidence. For all its traps and detours, the Internet is still full of useful alleys of information. If I wanted to, I could surely find research papers or the like regarding the “nativeness” of a native speaker instead of establishing facts by popular opinion or surveys.

Here's one abstract to get started: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/478954


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Simple logic? Apr 26, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

I am a native speaker of English. I live in the UK.

I lived and worked in Italy for more than 20 years, hardly ever speaking English to anyone. I speak Italian without an accent and Italian sometimes ask me what part of Tuscany I'm from.

But I am NOT native in Italian and it really ****** me off to see others here who claim to be native in it as well as being native in English.

You can't be born in two places and you can't be native in two languages, no matter how fluent you are in both of them. That's just simple logic.

You might have been born in Italy and spoken Italian in the family circle, before moving to (say) America, where English became your first language as you grew up, but you can't say it's your NATIVE language. Even if your Italian is old and restricted to family chats, is is still your native language.


Sorry to *** you off, Tom, I consider myself a native English speaker, even if I started learning English since age 5, then a gap, then at 13, another gap (1982-1983) and then all the way until I arrived in New York City. I think there is a slight confusion about native language and language of the country, town or nation you were born. I don't see them as absolutely equal in meaning.

Don't let those 'native English speakers' bother you (i.e. control your emotional reaction).




 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'm sure they don't mind Apr 26, 2017

First of all there are as many definitions of the word "native" as there are native speakers.
Secondly, this was a discussion of whether or not you would/could call yourself a native speaker, not if Can was a native speaker.

I won't call myself a native speaker of a language from a country where I've never lived as a child. To me, being a native speaker is not just about the language. It's the culture.
Which is why I won't call any of my old classmates native Norwegian speakers. Even if they were born and raised in Norway, they had their own culture, their own language.


Well, Mari, in the first paragraph above you're trying to bring the conversation back to where you wanted it to go. For better or for worse, that's not how free conversations go.

Your statement about there being as many definitions of the word 'native' as there are native speakers is not only circular logic but feeble reasoning and it defies common sense. As we say in America: nice try, but no cigar. One of the reasons texts in different languages are translatable is that they have stable concepts and definitions by social convention. There might be one to five different definitions of 'native' but not hundreds, thousands or millions.

Last but not least, why would someone who was born and raised in Norway, although of foreign-born parents, won't be considered a native Norwegian speaker? From what I'm reading, their foreign culture somehow automatically disqualifies them from being considered native Norwegians by you? I hope this sentiment is not widely shared in Norway.


 

Francesco Sani  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Interesting article... Apr 26, 2017

Mario Chavez wrote:

xxx00000000 wrote:

A native language is one you acquired in early childhood. Languages you didn't speak then will never become native. But you can convey the fact that your mastery of the language is in all respects that of a native speaker of equivalent educational level by using 'nativelike' instead of 'native'.

So Can could describe her languages as native Japanese and nativelike English -- if I understood correctly.

Best,
Esther


That's just an opinion, not an empirically demonstrable statement. Self-identification as a native speaker is up to the individual.

Or do we think that childhood is some stage in life determined by certain universals? It is not. And your opening question, Will you ever/can you declare yourself as [a] native speaker? comes across as a bit of a condescending statement, even if you're not aware of it. Otherwise, why ask it? Out of idle curiosity?

I wish we who are translators read more and establish our own opinions based on facts, not just preconceived notions or anecdotal evidence. For all its traps and detours, the Internet is still full of useful alleys of information. If I wanted to, I could surely find research papers or the like regarding the “nativeness” of a native speaker instead of establishing facts by popular opinion or surveys.

Here's one abstract to get started: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/478954


Thank you


 

Francesco Sani  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Here is a great article on the effects of L2 learning on adult bilinguals' mother tongue Apr 26, 2017

http://international.ucla.edu/media/files/Kroll-CWL-UCLA-May-28-2014-xu-1ya.pdf

Important point: where it says that a native language is not the Rock of Gibraltar...


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Native language and bilingualism Apr 27, 2017

Francesco Sani wrote:

http://international.ucla.edu/media/files/Kroll-CWL-UCLA-May-28-2014-xu-1ya.pdf

Important point: where it says that a native language is not the Rock of Gibraltar...


Thanks, Francesco. That's indeed an interesting article. Still, I cringe at the colloquialisms being used (funky L2) across the paper. It's sad that this particular question, about the nature of a native language and how a speaker self-identifies with it, has been personalized and got traction from personal bias.


 

Lidija Klemencic
Serbia
Local time: 02:18
Member (2016)
English to Serbian
+ ...
Anecdote about my native language Apr 27, 2017

Can, your family history is amazing. From here to there, all over the world. It is good to see that you can decide which language is your native. My real native language is Slovenian but I do not work in it and I wouldn't even dream of declaring it as working language. For example, since I live in Serbia, I had to go to Slovenian embassy to sort something about passport. Of course, as always, there were some problems with bureaucracy and I had to talk with ambassador about this. So, in order to... See more
Can, your family history is amazing. From here to there, all over the world. It is good to see that you can decide which language is your native. My real native language is Slovenian but I do not work in it and I wouldn't even dream of declaring it as working language. For example, since I live in Serbia, I had to go to Slovenian embassy to sort something about passport. Of course, as always, there were some problems with bureaucracy and I had to talk with ambassador about this. So, in order to finish this asap, I decided to speak with him in Slovenian ( even today I do not know why; maybe to show him that I am their citizen and that he must help me). I started speaking and explaining to him that they had made a mistake, that it is not my fault, etc and suddenly I realized that I have transferred from Slovenian to English. What happened was that at the first Slovenian word that I had to pause to think, my brain decided that I am speaking foreign language and, without consulting me, changed my words into English. When I realized this I blushed, ambassador was staring at me for a few seconds and decided to join my madness and we finished our conversation in English. Three hours later I was still blushing. He was probably talking to his friends about an idiot he had to deal with earlier.
As you can see, my true native language is foreign language for me. I consider Serbian as my native language although I was not born there. Can is clearly gifted and can declare himself as native speaker of English among other languages.
Collapse


 

Francesco Sani  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Great story! Apr 27, 2017

Lidija Klemencic wrote:

Can, your family history is amazing. From here to there, all over the world. It is good to see that you can decide which language is your native. My real native language is Slovenian but I do not work in it and I wouldn't even dream of declaring it as working language. For example, since I live in Serbia, I had to go to Slovenian embassy to sort something about passport. Of course, as always, there were some problems with bureaucracy and I had to talk with ambassador about this. So, in order to finish this asap, I decided to speak with him in Slovenian ( even today I do not know why; maybe to show him that I am their citizen and that he must help me). I started speaking and explaining to him that they had made a mistake, that it is not my fault, etc and suddenly I realized that I have transferred from Slovenian to English. What happened was that at the first Slovenian word that I had to pause to think, my brain decided that I am speaking foreign language and, without consulting me, changed my words into English. When I realized this I blushed, ambassador was staring at me for a few seconds and decided to join my madness and we finished our conversation in English. Three hours later I was still blushing. He was probably talking to his friends about an idiot he had to deal with earlier.
As you can see, my true native language is foreign language for me. I consider Serbian as my native language although I was not born there. Can is clearly gifted and can declare himself as native speaker of English among other languages.


Thank you for sharing that with us!


 
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