Udawaj, że jesteś native speakerem!*

(* Pretend that you’re a native speaker!)

Some time ago I chatted with a guy from Poland. After some time chatting in Polish he asked me something that really made me smile:

“Długo mieszkasz w Niemczech?”

He actually thought that I was originally from Poland. No need to make a big deal out of this though, since it doesn’t tell so much about my language skills than about the fact that only very few people bother learning Polish as a foreign language. After all, it comes down to probability. Plus, he could only assess my written Polish; my accent still gives me clearly away as a non-native.

Nevertheless, I really like it when people assume that I’m a native speaker of their language.

I like it because certain facts tend to cloud the judgment of other people. They tend to adjust themselves when they are aware that they’re talking to a non-native speaker, all the more if that non-native speaker happens to be from a country they don’t like.
(And this is the very same reason why I post in some forums with a gender-neutral nick…)

Also, it poses kind of a challenge for me: how long can I pretend in a conversation/or a chat that I’m a native? I’ll be more attentive to mistakes I may make, and that in turn helps my concentration – kind of fake it till you make it. Oooh, and don’t forget the secret agent-feeling.

And finally, I guess it’s also a matter of identification – though I’m not sure to what extent this issue applies to other people. Some people just love a certain culture and its language so much that they just want to pretend that they’re (already) part of it – and no longer a foreigner.

The question “Why lie about being a native speaker” is being discussed in the HTLAL-Forum; the according thread can be found here.

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Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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