Well, according to my pocket Oxford, a native speaker is a person who has spoken a particular language from earliest childhood.
Originally Posted by bbqweasel
I'd tend to agree. There's the long held assumption, the earlier, the better. There's that window of opportunity that closes before the child hits the age of 4, or is it 3? But then again, would a 40 year old whose family moved to Russia from the USA when s/he was a child of 8 be considered a native Russian speaker? It depends, doesn't it? Time, opportunity, and context (situational as well as grammatical) are key factors. It's what a child sees and hears over a long period of time and how that information is related to and processed along with non-linguistic information that constitute as major contributors to native language acquisition. Here's a second case in point, my native language is English, yet I spoke with a semi-French accent when I was young - I lived in a biligual family and city. I could speak French, but not fluently. Another case in point, I've a colleague from Vietnam who immigrated to Canada when he was 16 years of age. By the time he was 25, he had forgotten how to speak Vietnamese and had such a heavy Vietnamese accent and poor command of English spoken grammar that he was deemed a "man without a language." Where's that category?
Originally Posted by bbq
I believe "nativeness", if you will, has to do with both origin and use. That is, did you learn X language when you where young and, most importantly, have you been using it ever since?
Originally Posted by bbq
I haven't seen/heard of the experiment done by the American university, but it certainly does sound 'interesting'. Specifically,
'When the speaker was portrayed as someone non-white, the listeners not only rated the speaker as less understandable; but they also tested lower on the factual content of what was said! That is, they actually had less of an understanding of what was said simply because they thought the speaker was not a "native speaker"!'It seems to me that culture is the real culprit there. First Nations people say, "We are our language": if our language dies out so, too, will our culture. That is, they are one and the same. So, people might share the same language, native language, as shown in the above study, but differences in culture; i.e., North American as a "melting-pot", reflect in the way we choose to express ourselves. I've a colleague who is the same age as me, and who grew up in the same city as me, and sometimes, not often, he speaks English with what I call an archaic-like sense of grammar (it's rather old-fashioned British-like, I tell him). His parents come from India, and although he was born and raised in Canada, he speaks English with a hint of his mother's tongue. No surprise! she having been his primary language provider while he grew up. He's a native English speaker, no doubt about it, but if he were in that study done by the American univeristy, I suspect he too would have been deemed non-native. Well, I gather that's better than being "a man without a language."
I've one question for you. Why it is that "nativeness" is even being debated? What does the title "native" get you?