New glossary entry: ‘Native fluency’

Posted on Sun 18 Mar 2012 @ 7.57am UTC

(Updated 18 March 2012 to fix typos and broken links)

NEW ENTRY ADDED to the Glossary with links to related articles, which should please some of us no end but probably the worst-possible answer to those seeking to ‘achieve’ the below.

* * *

native fluency

See also ADJ and ADV [in the Glossary]
Related: elitespeakirrelephantgrammarfreakpeevologist [in the Glossary].

Native fluency is a psychotic state of mind induced by years of formalised education of the type that is geared towards passing examinations whose passing criteria are less to do with real-life application and more to do with dragging out the learning process in order to make money from the learner (or the learner’s parents).

An identifying characteristic of this psychotic state of mind is an insanely delusional belief that native fluency (they meant ‘the ability to speak like a native’) can come about merely through study, specifically studying from books, tape recordings, CDs, listening to radio shows, watching TV programmes, etc.

By definition (even in the perverse field of linguistics), a ‘native speaker’ of (say) English  has to grow up using the language in an authentic English-speaking country in order to be one. In other words, native English speaking does not (and cannot) come from mere tuition.

People who are sold on this ‘native fluency’ spiel nearly always refuse to recognise or accept this simple, commonsensical truth of the matter. It makes their psychotic state of mind even funnier and much more entertaining for those who are actually native speakers.

It is even more hilarious in the case of those adults who say they want to learn to speak English ‘natively’ — they meant ‘to speak to a standard like a native.’ These fine adults would get a killer disappointment if they only realised East End London Cockneys, Yorkshiremen, Kentucky hillbillies, drawl-and-twang Texans and a whole host of English yakkers around the world are also native English speakers. These adults need to go back to elementary school and relearn the meaning of the word native from the standpoint of geography, history, philosophy, language, linguistics, politics and common sense.


One of the commonest defects of people trying hard to sound like a native English speaker is the tendency to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Asians tend to fall into this trap much more than Europeans do, mainly because Europeans in their funny but adorable accents know it is bad form and social stupidness to overuse adjectives and adverbs in their own European mother tongues already, so they know not to try the same in another European language like English.

Most English speakers with a modicum of learning or good sense and sensibility long realised the French (and by extension the Belgians) are past masters of the adjective and the adverb, so they try not to compete. Besides, too many adjectives and adverbs in English make you sound insecure — as if you’re shamefully, abashedly lying in an equivocally obvious way. If you have to sound like lying, at least sound unequivocal at it.

The worst offenders are those Asians whose countries or territories have a past history of being colonised or double-penetratedly abused by European powers. On the strength of that history, they therefore start overusing adjectives and adverbs in the hope of making their speech or writing sound more like the native European language. The situation is much worse with English because the English language has the most number of adjectives and adverbs than any other European language.

The Chinese, Japanese and Koreans have a yen for American English because its crippled grammar (rebadged as ‘simpler’) has many points of similarity to their own grammars.

The Hong Kong Chinese and Singaporeans prefer British English — chiefly because of Hong Kong’s 156-year-long and Singapore’s 139-year-long history as British colonies. But Hongkies and Spores end up speaking and writing 70% American English (because of its ‘simpler’ grammar but using British spellings) and 30% a mishmash of Chinglish, Britspeak and anything else they pick up from their English-language TV channels.

Meanwhile, Hongkongers try to crank up the ‘nativeness’ scale by mimicking Victorian-era writings whose despicable verbosity, superciliousness, roundaboutness and talking-down-atcha qualities of language (had they known) are roundly hateful to the eyes and hurtful to the ears for 99% of English speakers anywhere in the world.

The peoples of the Indian subcontinent and the Indian Ocean territories go totally overboard with their Ayyo English (qv). In their incredible, self-induced delusion of some lost glory of the British Raj, these curry-mango chutney eaters teach that longwinded, mock-Gothic Victorian Edwardian Muncipal Disneyesque Administrationalistic English as High English and a paragon of good taste. They never realised that that pathetic brand of English had been invented for the movies; it makes them sound like a bunch of flippin’ clowns.

Lately in TWAT (The War Against Terror), the roundabout locution of that mock-Gothic/Victorian nonsense English littered so with adjectives and adverbs so beloved of many an Asian learner actually makes anyone sound like a fundamentalist suicide bomber (whichever and whatever the religion) — because nobody understands what the hell you’re on about. Money is tight, the bailout is long drawn out, and the Americans, the Brits and their allies don’t have enough facilities for ‘extraordinary rendition’ to hold you, so they’ll just blow your brains out with a 50-cal rifle round and save on the paperwork.

If you overuse adjectives or adverbs or do any of those things that the ‘native fluency’ spiel seems to dictate into your thick head, you are seen as an irrelephant (qv).

Read our related posts:—

© Learn English or Starve, 2012.

Images: Myth Busted Sign via Patric Chocolate | I Sound So Fluent via Scholastic | Twat Inside by The Badge Centre | Not Fluent vs. Fluent Reading Venn Diagram via c4c.

Posted in: Colour Section