Native Language

Hello, I have a question.

How fluent does one have to be in his/her native language?

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I have no idea, but I’m not convinced I would pass the C2 exam., in part because I don’t think I could remember a passage to subsequently paraphrase. It does raise an interesting point that some L2 speakers can be more eloquent and expressive in their L2 than many native speakers.

Every person has a C2 in their language because every person has a unique language. All the official languages are artificial and no-one speaks them as their native language. Therefore people who speak a one variety of them would score a variety of results. Sometimes mistakes are a correct way to say for others. If no-one had made mistakes there wouldn’t be a variety of languages.

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Apparently not. Not everyone can express themselves sufficiently well to reach C2. You’re right that some supposedly wrong forms are simply regional or social group variations. However, even accounting for that, C2 assumes an educated person.

I am educated, and on paper clever as I have a PhD in quantum physics, however I often struggle to recall words, and I have a poor short term memory, which suggests I might have issues with C2. For me maths is easy, language is hard.

In general a native speaker will have greater fluency and a greater understanding of idiom and familiar language than L2 speakers with a C2 level.


Definitely not.

But there is always a problem with these various assumptions.

C2 is NOT native speaker.

Being a native speaker and having a C2 certificate as second language learner are 2 different things.

Most of the population in every country don’t reach a C2 level in their own language, but they can be very fluent when talking/listening. Usually very awful when writing. Not so good either with grammar either.

A C2 certificate is a common ground way to give some reference for the language, and it involves being good at every aspect of the language (5 categories as far as I know).

Someone with a C2 certificate might not be so fluent overall. The reason is that you don’t need to score 100% in every aspect of the language. But you have to score a minimum of 50% on each category (unless they have changed it, I don’t remember anymore).

Having a C2 certificate doesn’t mean to be a native speaker, and doesn’t mean to have reached the level of a native speaker. On the other hand, you can be an illiterate and be native speaker.


What I meant is that everyones level is C2 because they are the only ones that have that language. There is not really any other level as there is nothing exactly same to compare to. I understand this is a bit of a theoretic idea and it’s not my own exactly. I run into something like it on a youtube channel of linguistics by a linguistic. I do think it’s quite valid and well represented in your example. No need to hold yourself to standards that aren’t relevant in your life.

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@Jessei read my answer above, we wrote at the same time. You are giving your own interpretation to a certificate that has nothing to do with being a native speaker. It is not an existential spiritual concept, it is just a language certificate. It doesn’t mean being good or being bad as a person. It means if you know mathematics or you don’t know mathematics, or which level of mathematics you have.
It’s not personal, it’s just a form of measurement. Not a big deal.


@davideroccato Doesn’t change my point. In any case it is a subjective measurment of something that is subjective. C2 in my example would mean fluent for example. Name is irrelevant. There isn’t a test to test how good you are in your way of speaking the language, right? So that’s why reference to C2 to draw some comparison. Like I said, it is just a theoretic idea to show how irrelevant and narrow standard ways of measuring language capabilities are on native speakers. It’s more relevant for someone who isn’t a native speaker. Not very accurate still, but more relevant as non natives are learning more of a mix between standard and all the varieties as opposed to (usually) having only the way you learned language.

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C2 does not mean fluent at a native level. It’s a measure of how well someone can express themselves in a language. Many native speakers express themselves dreadfully. Just listen to Donald Trump if you don’t believe me. His sentences often don’t even make sense, it’s baby talk, irrespective of whether or not you like his politics.

Maybe you don’t mix very widely, perhaps you only talk to educated people. Incidentally, do a Google, and you’ll see what language institutes say on this.

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That’s age doing it’s job. It’s like day and night compared to his older interviews. In any case, question was how good people are in their native language and no-one has standard language as native language which is what is used to determine language level. It’s only one interpretetion of the language and it’s not that relevant in showing level in ones way of speaking.

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Ok, I get your point. That’s why I try to not mix things.

I guess for native speakers, the best reference would be the level of education they have, plus the capacity to articulate themselves in the language. It’s different because it involves other metrics, and it’s not very useful in comparison to second language learners.

I didn’t answer to the initial topic because I didn’t even understand it, but I have engaged only in the subsequent part of the discussion to make the point that’s best avoiding mixing the two.

Personally, I never measure myself with native speakers, but with the capacity that I have with the language that I want to use, and how I want to use it. If I reach that point I’m good with it.

Every native speaker could spend his entire life in continuing perfecting his own language. Writers, journalists, translators, linguists. I mean, it’s infinite. From the point of view, it is impossible to define a precise measurement because it involves also the capacity of thinking, and it becomes more a specialisation in different categories.

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@davideroccato I assume the point is to gauge the level of a “native speaker” as a benchmark for their own efforts, but I think it’s not something that should be thought through a literal test. People don’t grow up and learn a language, besides what they learn in the school (which not many take that seriously), to do that kind of tests, whereas foreigners who study for these kinds of test often study just for it. There are only some professions were it’s relevant to know a standard language, otherwise measuring ones language skill is quite hard. Communicating always involves atleast two, which ones language skill are worse if they don’t understand each other? (both being “native speakers”). I would say both speak their best and the reason for not understanding is that their language isn’t the exactly the same. When I lived in Australia, I as a non native speaker, had to translate to brits what our Australian boss was saying. I wouldn’t say my English was better than theirs, I just had better range to understand him as I had lived in New Zealand for some time where accent has similarities to Australia.

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I guess I don’t really understand the question. Firstly, fluency is a subjective issue, so there is no “fluency requirement” for native speakers. In terms of measurable language skills, people with certain learning disabilities may not reach a high level of competence with their native language, but they are still considered native speakers, so there is no minimum limit of competency for a native speaker - their level of competency with their native language is irrelevant.

Having said that, if we apply the CEFR as a yardstick, the vast majority of adults will reach C2+ in their native language.

However, the CEFR is not really built to gauge native proficiency. I am a native English speaker, I am well educated, yet I recently used ChatGPT to test myself in English for fun and according to the AI, I only achieved a score of C1, possibly because I worked for a number of years in Austria, in an English-speaking youth hostel where many people from many nations were guests, so I got used to using simpler words while I was interacting with non-native English speakers, and that kinda stuck with me.

So language tests for native speakers are flawed and irrelevant.

In short, I think there is no way to answer to your question as written.

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Yep. Same as I said before. In fact, I didn’t answer to that specific question either. :rofl:

You are definitely too optimistic. I don’t think half of the population will reach the minimum of 50% in C2 writing skills. Which means, they wouldn’t pass the test. Probably they wouldn’t pass the 50% of the grammar test either.

Remember that you need to write a mini essay with a piece of paper and a pen (there is no computer or automatic corrections) . Good luck with that for most of the population. This test only will kill most of the people capacity of getting a C2.

It would be just easy for natives to nail listening comprehension, speaking fluency, and reading comprehension.

However, some wouldn’t probably pass the reading comprehension either if it is quite articulated and difficult. Not everyone is able to understand and focus on more difficult newspaper articles. I can promise you. It is not so easy as you think for the average population.
You know, you need to add drug addicts, mental problems, people that only have few years of schools, old people, people that live in ghettos. You might be surprise about the statistics of the real educational level of the populations.

And if the teachers would be picky, some wouldn’t pass the speaking either if it is required a higher capacity of articulate your counter arguments. Yes, they would talk, but a C2 should be measure also your capacity to articulate, explain your point of view, and so on.

Definitely not a C2+ for most of them.

I agree. Because it depends on the premises of what we are trying to test, and it is absolutely irrelevant.
Language is for communication amongst people for many different things, and everybody is contributing to the society in different way. Measuring this type of communication would be really hard, and wouldn’t make any sense either.

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