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I fooled a native speaker

 Language Learning Forum : Cultural Experiences in Foreign Languages Post Reply
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Trilingual Super Polyglot
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 Message 9 of 56
17 February 2007 at 1:36pm | IP Logged 
I also liked your story Tike. I think it was a very nice way of recieving a compliment.

Tike wrote:

One the other hand, there are probably not that many people speaking good Mandarin, Finnish, Russian etc. as a foreign language, so natives might take them for a native speaker automatically if they're good.

I just wanted to add for the record, that there are a lot of foreigners speaking 'good Russian' (either in or outside Russia). They are either from fromer Soviet republics like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and so on, from the former Soviet block (V4 region..) or just plain immigrants.

Edited by Vlad on 18 February 2007 at 4:19am

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Joined 6135 days ago

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Speaks: German*, Russian, English
Studies: French, Czech

 Message 10 of 56
18 February 2007 at 5:44pm | IP Logged 

That is of course true, but as far as I've heard many of them are not perceived as very "foreign" by Russians in Russia and therefore their language skills would also be perceived differently. But that's a little off-topic ...

I'd like to hear more success stories about fooling native speakers, are there any?

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Super Polyglot
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 Message 11 of 56
18 February 2007 at 6:14pm | IP Logged 
I once was interviewed on the street somewhere in Austria (Klagenfurt or Graz), when suddenly something made the interviewer suspicious. He then asked whether I was from Kärnten, and I replied, no I'm Danish. Then he said Aargh, now he had to scrap the whole interview because he needed to find an Austrian. I have also had some English people discussing where I came from, and they settled for Wales, - quite amusing, because I have only spent a few hours in Conwy and I have no idea how Welshmen speak. And then I once visited the Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia. I was wearing a long blue coat, and while I was speaking to the lady who sold tickets she asked why I didn't claim the reduced admission price for military personnel. When I told her that I was Danish and a civilian, she said that I would have had the reduction if I had asked for it, - she was convinced that I came from the US military.

I suspect that many of us have had those small moments of triumph, - it all amounts to having some ability to imitate the local people around you.

Edited by Iversen on 18 February 2007 at 6:16pm

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Senior Member
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Speaks: Russian*, English, ItalianC1, Spanish
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 Message 12 of 56
19 February 2007 at 3:40pm | IP Logged 
Once an Italian student of Russian language wrote a comment to my weblog that at first she thought I'm an Italian, but in the second half of 5KB text there were a few typical mistakes (like "which watch" :)). I'm happy that my language in the first half was very good, that even she didn't notice. I wish one day that were true for my oral speech (native Italians say I have a strong English accent).

I myself have taken some Germans for Russian native speakers.

Edited by Siberiano on 19 February 2007 at 3:41pm

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Senior Member
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 Message 13 of 56
25 March 2007 at 9:36pm | IP Logged 
Native speakers of Italian often take me for an Italian, especially in Tuscany.. :) And every time I go to Russia nobody tries to sell me anything like they always do when they see a foreigner marching by. :D

Edited by bela_lugosi on 25 March 2007 at 9:36pm

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United States
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 Message 14 of 56
04 April 2007 at 8:12am | IP Logged 
Actually, I think that being exposed to a lot of foreigners makes you more likely to take a foreigner for a native speaker. Eventually you just hear so many accents and mistakes that you stop noticing them if someone with a slighter accent who makes fewer mistakes comes along.
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Joined 6095 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Welsh, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Ancient Greek

 Message 15 of 56
10 April 2007 at 1:18pm | IP Logged 
It is BRILLIANT when you get mistaken for a native!
I have learned to speak Welsh. For the benefit of people who have never heard of this endangered species of language or who are unsure of what it is. It is a celtic language descended from that of the people who lived in Britain before the Anglo-saxons arrived. There are a few hundred thousand speakers. Wales is next door to England.

I am Welsh by birth and descent but like 80% of the inhabitants of Wales I was raised only speaking English.

I still consider my command of the language to be a bit imperfect but I participated in a concert as part of a big cultural festival last year. It is exclusively carried out in our language. I had been sitting by one chap for weeks during rehersals and had spoken to him on many occasions. On the night of the concert we were waiting to go on stage. He asked me if I had been to the rest of the festival, which lasts a week, and when I told him that I had been in the learners' pavilion. (In order so save the language from extinction there is a big push to persuade people to learn it.) He asked me in a puzzled manner if I was a learner because he would never have known. Two and a half years of study took me to that level.

This has happened to me several times now. BUT the big thing that makes it easy is that the natural accent which I use to speak English is a Welsh accent that derives from people who had centuries ago to learn to speak English. So it makes it much easier. It is still great when it happens though.
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