Discussion » Chinese Language & Culture » Native Speakers - is it race related?

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹) wrote:
    ...

    I places this one under this category because I think this is related to China culture ...

    Referring to a conversation earlier today with another member, as well as many similar conversations in the past with many members ...

    Q: What do you believe to be "native speaker"? Speaking like a native? Or must be a native, i.e. someone who passes the "race" screen?

  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    A native speaker of a language, by definition, is someone who speaks that language from birth.

    Am I right? It doesn't seem too complicated.
  • Candy Q
    Candy Q wrote:
    agree with Pete. and yeah it's quite simple.

    and if it's for language study, it's totally acceptable.
    But the whole "native speaker", "language tuition" thing is way overrated in Chinese society. most of the parents don't understand what matters is the teaching/learning method, not where the teachers r from.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Hahaha ... then is there a difference between a "native speaker" and a "non native who speaks like a native speaker"?
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Yeah. It's called "fluency."
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Hahahaha ... I am sorry, after hitting "agree and post", I realised that the question was wrong, not thinking very clearly tonight, probably too much smoked salmon ...

    The question should be ... is there a difference between a "native speaker" and "someone who grew up, though not born, but speaks as a native speaker"?

    An example ... a few of my friends and cousins went to US and Australia before teen or much younger, and if you dont know their origin, they speak as any native speaker would, are they then still native speakers?
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    I'd say that it depends on many variables, including educational background, intelligence quotient and desire to enhance your vocabulary and/or elocution.

    I know many non-native English speakers who have a better grasp of the English language than some uneducated (and flat-out intellectual lazy) people I know back home in the States.
  • Candy Q
    Candy Q wrote:
    By definition, they r not.
    has to be since birth, rather than learning it later.
  • A豆腐
    A豆腐 wrote:
    Also "native speaker", is the key word for be teacher of one language, the magical word for look for language teachers. Not only the necessary condition, also sufficient condition.

    But really, althought I´m a native speaker of spanish, I don´t think that I can be a teacher.
    For be a language teacher, if necessary a good knowledge about the language (grammar...) and the experience for teach (pedagogy, methods) that for a example a degree in philolology can give you.

    For my own experience, I was tried to learn japanese in the university classes, and the teacher was only a native speaker, a japanese student of economy teaching japanese. Was very funny (sometimes.....) asked him things about why we can not say this in this case, or why in this case we can not use this word... the explanation always was ¨I use this, and my friends, and my family, and they can understand me

    Sometime who speaks like a native has a better knowledge of the grammar and spelling than a native speaker.
    Maybe this is a different, who speaks like a native must to know the grammar, learn from books, and for the native speaker is not necessary have a explicit knowledge about the grammar, they learn the grammar speaking in their society.

  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Sure. By definition, one who is fluent and a native-speaker are not the same.

    But that doesn't necessary mean that an American hillbilly who dropped out of middle school can automatically, by simply speaking the language from birth, have a better grasp on the language than a Chinese academic.

    Know what I mean?
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Hahahaha ... just for the sake of arguing ...

    We all know of (or hear about) foreigner families in China, some of these kids might even be born in China, so they are not Chinese by DNA nor nationality, but they had been learning Chinese since kindy ... would they ever be considered "native speaker" of the Chinese language? I am not so sure ...

  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Non-Chinese children would be considered native speakers if they learned the language since birth, which I think is the norm.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Hahahaha ... I would like to see a hillbilly teaching English at one of those EL places or BLCU ... "how'dy folks" ...
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    Oh, I've seen them. Unless you want to weep for the linguistic skills of China's little ones, I'd advise you to steer clear of some of the more dodgy private language schools out there.

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Hahahaha ... but I do miss the old classic "Beverly Hillbillies" ...
  • Candy Q
    Candy Q wrote:
    @pete,
    tell that hillbilly story to those obsessed Chinese parents. they need some serious help. haha

    @dingdang,
    first, BLCU don't hire hillbillies.
    second, only the educated native speakers with real stuff can stay and be respected~~~I had a teacher from the states, more than qualified for an English teacher and his Chinese was perfect, pretty amazing.
    But the best English teachers in BLCU is Chinese and he was my favorite....
  • Da Fan
    Da Fan wrote:
    Someone who begin to learn a certain lauguage before his/her "critical period" and then continuously use it can be considered an "native speaker". The "critical period" is still in controversy, but most common definitions are all before aldolesence. Ppl who learn a language after the "critical period" and master it too as "second lauguage", master it so well as to write an excellent noval, but hardly gain the "instinct" or "intuition" things. Eg, he/she can hardly understand newly created "tricky" lauguage updates without background informations, and can hardly invent make-sense wordings.

    My gf's major is linguistics - first lauguage acquisition, so I remembered a little. Maybe I remembered it wrongly, i dunno. If you are interested in, there are plenty of linguistic materials abt first lauguage acquisition and second lauguage acquisition
  • Turkmenbaschi
    Turkmenbaschi wrote:
    nativespeaker is the language you talk with your mother and(or the language you learnt at school. (-->bilingual)
  • Daniel
    Daniel wrote:
    From reading this thread, I've realised I have a different interpretation of the phrase native-language: I always considered it to be 'language of a speaker's country' instead of 'language learned at birth'. This way I can still be a native speaker of English (as the main spoken language of Wales is English) whilst having only started learning English around the age of 5. (My first language is Welsh, which is a much older British language)
  • Daniel
    Daniel wrote:
    *language learned from birth
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    In PRC, "native speaker" is often code for "not-Asian-looking". For instance, a wanted advert looking for a "native English speaker" can often be interpreted to mean "Russian or Spanish would be fine, as long as we can market you as someone who speaks "外语" as a native language. Heaven forbid you're an ABC.
    And of course, if we're talking about language teaching, non-native speakers who learned to speak the language academically are much better qualified to teach, since they understand the language structure. I am not an English teacher, but it is my first language and I don't know any of the grammatical rules.
  • Malin Aaker
    Malin Aaker wrote:
    Seriously, you didn't learn how to write in your language? Not any single rule? You just don't remember them because it became natural for you, but don't tell me you did not learn those rules, otherwise, there's something to be worried about in your country's education system I think!
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Yeah but knowing the rules vs being able to tell someone what those rules are is a completely different matter.

    I can correct and edit tons of English sentences and stuff, but if you ask me to explain why "I go home now" is wrong and why "I'm going home now" is correct, I'll have to look it up to figure out which rule it is.
  • Malin Aaker
    Malin Aaker wrote:
    Agreed, that's what I meant by "you don't remember them because they became natural".

    Actually I don't think it's a matter of being native or not, but much more in the way different people learn. I have some friends who still know all about the french grammar rules, learned german and can tell me all about the german grammar rules and same for english. Because the way they studied it, they needed to know those rules.

    I can't tell any grammar rule from any language that I speak, be it french english or chinese. But I think I speak each of these languages not too badly.

    There are 2 ways I think to learning a language (and I'd say they are complementary). One is to learn and understand the rules for that language. The other one actually requires native speakers because you'll be able to hear how people who use that language on a daily basis use it, what are the words they really use and how they turn their sentences.

    I remember my dad as a university teacher received some application letters from Chinese students (in french). And told me that girl's french is PERFECT, way better than mine, his or whoever I know in France. But she sounded like she's from the 17th century. If she had learned with native speakers, they would have told her that she sounded "weird" when she talked.

    And to be a teacher the native speaker thing is much less important to me than the educational skills / level. I know a lot of french people that I would never let anyone teach french. They really don't know how to use their own language!
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    So, can I conclude here that, it is a naive (or just plain nonense) to ask for "native speaker" for whatever position or reason, other than just a marketing tactic ... or worse, a lie?
  • Da Fan
    Da Fan wrote:
    Hope Chomsky's followers can develop an universal real-time translator soon...
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    Saibo, I grew up in the states, so yes there's something very very wrong with my country's education system. Basically, I didn't learn any of the rules, and while I can tell you how an incorrectly worded sentence should read, I'll be damned if I can tell you why that's the case. Thankfully my parents were educated and corrected my English as I was growing up - it was through communication that I learned to communicate and not by education.
    Unfortunately, the same is partially true of how I learned Chinese, which is why I write like a 7 year old.
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    Dingdang, I would make that conclusion. In the US at least, it would be illegal to require a "native speaker" of anything in a job description, for reasons of unnecessary discrimination. You could require that a person spoke with an American accent if they were, for instance, teaching a course on American accents, but not really for any other reason I can think of.

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