Why the mythical "native speaker" has mud on its face

Jean Marc Dewaele*, Thomas H. Bak, Lourdes Ortega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The terms "native speaker" (NS) and "non-native speaker" (NNS) continue to be widely used in applied linguistics and foreign language learning and teaching despite a growing wave of criticism about the difficulty in defining them accurately, the (neo)racist ideology they reflect and the deficit view they perpetuate among foreign language learners and teachers. These issues are explored in more detail, focusing on the history of the terms NS/NNS and their enduring perverse social consequences. We consider alternative views and explain the reasoning behind the development of a new terminology: "L1 user versus LX user" (Dewaele 2018). We conclude that the field needs to abandon the toxic terms "NS/NNS" and adopt neutral terms that emphasise the equal status of first and foreign language users - which can often be the same person.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Changing Face of the "Native Speaker"
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from Multilingualism and Globalization
EditorsNikolay Slavkov, Sílvia Melo-Pfeifer, Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781501512353
ISBN (Print)9781501517693
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameTrends in Applied Linguistics (TAL)
PublisherDe Gruyter

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • deficit view, (neo)racist ideology
  • L1/LX user
  • multilingualism
  • native-speakerism


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