who's a native speaker?

Thomas Paikeday thomaspaikeday at SPRINT.CA
Tue Feb 3 02:07:17 UTC 2004

Good question, Erin!

There were four papers presented at the last MLA (San Diego) under the aegis
of "Language and Society" about "the native speaker" as an abstraction.
Native speakers are not supposed to exist in the concrete. I totally agree,
as in "The Native Speaker Is Dead!" (Toronto & New York, 1985). The book is
available in libraries of most universities where linguistics is taught.

You have a very hard task ahead.

Best wishes.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Erin McKean" <editor at VERBATIMMAG.COM>
Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 4:41 PM
Subject: who's a native speaker?

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Erin McKean <editor at VERBATIMMAG.COM>
> Subject:      who's a native speaker?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Folks  -- does anyone want to weigh in or point me towards sources
> about who is or who isn't a "native speaker" of American English?
> We're trying to hammer out guidelines for people who want to
> contribute their online writing to the American National Corpus
> project (http://americannationalcorpus.org).
> Right now, for some published authors, we're taking birth in the US
> or working/writing in the US for more than X amount of time. This
> seems to work because this published writing is heavily edited by US
> copyeditors, etc.
> However, the same rule seems a little lax for online, unedited
> American English, as it doesn't take into account home language or
> anything like that. We don't want to be unduly restrictive, but at
> the same time we don't want to get too much unrepresentative writing
> in the corpus.
> Again, this is for WRITTEN material, not spoken, which means that
> there will be, I would hope, fewer issues than with near-native
> spoken American English, even though it is very casual writing.
> Any help would be appreciated.
> Thanks!
> Erin McKean
> editor at verbatimmag.com

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