Have You Counted Your Blessings As A Native English Speaker Lately?
“…being a native English-speaker also seems to many to confer an unfair advantage. It is far easier to argue a point in your mother tongue.”
Very, very true, and I can think of a certain non-native speaker ex-boyfriend of mine who would concur. Fortunately, well, I’m always right, so whether my native language gives me an advantage is a moot point. I would prevail anyway! I suppose there are some native English speakers who are at times wrong, so in this case it matters.
Yes, that is a mostly a joke; I realize I am not always right (really), and it does in fact matter and present an unfair advantage that native speakers will have an easier time in discussions or negotiations. However, there are a couple of advantages of being a fluent speaker of English as a second language.
First of all, you can always resort to “Oh, I’m sorry. English is not my native language; I didn’t mean that as you interpreted it…” I think it’s also more acceptable to ask for another explanation if it’s your second language, and this can give you additional thinking time.
There is also the possibility, even more so if your first language is a rare one, to converse with an associate in that language in front of those who do not speak it, essentially privately because they don’t understand. The potential benefits of this, especially in a negotiation setting, are numerous.
I don’t think non-native speakers of English necessarily use their own language as a secret one (or a secret weapon?), but there are definitely advantages to be had.
The quote above came from a recent article in The Economist… and explore the topic in more detail with me here.