Departmental Bulletin Paper L2 'Native' and L1 'Non-native' Speakers of English : A Perceptual Criterion of Native-likeness

Watanabe, Yutai

To verify the increasingly common notion that advanced L2 users can pass for native speakers, this article analyses comparatively late leamers, early bilinguals and monolingual speakers of English with regard to the degree of native-likeness perceived by Ll English speakers in New Zealand. No late leamers sounded native to the judges in a test enviromuent, but the bilinguals were variably rated near the boundary between simultaneous and sequential bilingualism. Notably, a monolingual speaker of a lesser-known variety of English and bilinguals of Outer Circle English were often perceived as L2 accented. The yardstick for nati ve-likeness is affected by judges' familiarity with the target accents; identification as 'native speakers' differs greatly in listeners' ears, regardless of the speaker's actual proficiency.

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