We should have a way to know if someone is a native speaker,

Or something like how many years of experience he had even though he's not a native speaker.. and whether he's using it frequently and stuff..

Well you get my idea.. we should have a way to know how "reliable" that answer is without just based on the upvotes/downvotes.

For one thing, if a native speaker tells me 彼たち is preferred to refer to a group of boys instead of 彼ら because the latter may sound like "boyfriends", then of course that would have so much more weight than a non-native speaker who have spoken japanese for years but of course wouldn't know all the corner cases (that may have actually be pretty obvious to a native)

  • Interesting idea. I agree that a voluntary "degree of fluency" marker of some sort would be useful. Don't know how it would be implemented tho... Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:36
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    I have reopened this question. I disagree with Pacerier's suggestion and even find it somewhat repugnant, but that doesn't mean we can't have a discussion about it.
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 18:11
  • @Amanda, well, its already discussed, argumented, and there is no good results coming from this. So I closed as "not constructive" as it defined in the description. But well, nevermind.
    – YOU
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 0:52
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    You could say we had a constructive discussion about how un-constructive it would be to implement this proposal. How about tagging with status-declined? It "indicates that a request has been considered, but will not be implemented". Here are examples on meta.so
    – ento
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 1:16
  • @Amanda: I agree that it's a question worth debating, but the consensus seems to be fairly clearly against, 2 weeks later. I second @ento's suggestion of tagging with status-declined...
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 1:36
  • @ento, ok, that make sense. But I think I better not touching this thread for now.
    – YOU
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 1:38
  • @ento That's a great idea. Done.
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 2:54

5 Answers 5


Added: I cannot see anything to discuss about this proposal. We already have a way to know if a user is a native speaker or not: see the user’s profile. If a user wants to state if he/she is a native speaker or not, he/she can do so in his/her profile. Therefore your proposal is already implemented.

But I find it a little funny that you want to know some personal information about other users while you write nothing about yourself in your profile.

You can check the profile of the user. You may find out some information about him/her.

In my profile, I write that I am a native speaker of Japanese. My intent is that it can be used both as a good sign (native speakers often intuitively know the right expression) and as a bad sign (native speakers usually have not learned much about the language explicitly, and they may also have bad habits). Of course this does not prove that I am really a native speaker, but it probably tells you some information.

  • 伊藤さん、その言い方、ちょっとあれですね... :)
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 20:19
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    @Amanda: Well, probably I failed to constrain my frustration with the asker, but I honestly think that asking for personal information without revealing his/her own is an unacceptable behavior. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 20:30
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    Oh, I quite agree.
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 20:38
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    Excellent point, Tsuyoshi. Profile data should be sufficient for our purposes at the moment. If there is an overwhelming response for the implementation of this feature later we may want to bring it up with Meta SO as I imagine this would likely be implemented across the board for other (language) SE sites. It seems that the current user base is against the idea so let's just maintain status quo for now.
    – rcjsuen
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 21:34
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    It would be neat if there was a dedicated field for that though.
    – Kdansky
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 8:24

In the StackExchange model, reputation indicates someone's reliability, not national origin or years of experience.

Also, requiring people to state their nationality just seems creepy to me.

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    Technically one wouldn't have to reveal their ancestry as they would merely just state how many years of experience they have had with the Japanese language. In any case, Amanda is correct here, just let the person's answer to the question speak for themselves. If it's good, it will be upvoted, if not, it will be downvoted. We shouldn't be creating dividers to group and differentiate users of the site.
    – rcjsuen
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 18:20
  • i definitely implicitly said its optional did i not?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 15:46
  • @Pacerier I did not pick up that subtext, no. "We should have a way to know if someone is a native speaker" does not imply optional to me.
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 15:55

Personally i think this is a bad idea as the people with the greatest knowledge of Japanese aren't going to be native Japanese speakers. It is going to be Linguists who are fluent in Japanese that I see as being most helpful to this site.

Native's may be good for talking about language as it related to culture, but then again, Japanese language norms change drastically from region to region. Also, natives, in general, are more knowledge of Japanese in use, but may not know what the correct grammar is. Which brings up a good point, which is more important, correct grammar or currently used Japanese.

  • So do you still believe that ください vs 下さい is the issue of grammatical correctness? As I said, both are grammatically correct. I gave up trying to change your opinion, but I appreciate if you can stop claiming that I brought the point of “which is more important, correct grammar or currently used japanese.” No matter whether you believe it or not, the issue discussed there has nothing to do with grammatical correctness. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 11:40
  • Just in case, I have no objection to this post except that you used a wrong example to illustrate your point. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 12:48
  • Sorry about that. I inferred incorrectly from your point when you said "I am saying that they are interchangeable as long as correctness is concerned." Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 14:22
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    I disagree with your statement that linguists who are fluent in Japanese will have the greatest knowledge. As somebody who is both a language learner and an armchair linguist I know that the kinds of knowledge I have about my native language and the language I study or learn are not the same. In fact naive informants are crucial to the study of linguistics since they can answer based on pure "Sprachgefühl" unpolluted by linguistic theory which is after all a constantly evolving field. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 2:07

As a native (American) English speaker, I wouldn't be able to tell you the first thing about English grammar, but I would be able to tell you something about Japanese grammar. I think most people learning another language are probably like this until they get to the point where they no longer need to learn grammar. I'm so used to speaking English that I never think about the mechanics behind it until someone asks me.

Same way with native Japanese. Personally when a native Japanese tells me something, I'll research it and see if I find other examples of what they've said. Besides, languages are always changing so we only have our "experiences" to go on when something changes.


I don't know how you intend to enforce this (but I'm guessing you're just going on good will and honesty here).

I don't think this system exists on any SE site (as I certainly don't recall seeing any "I have been a sys admin for N years" indications when I've been on Stack Overflow) so this seems more like a generic SE request that should be raised with Meta SO.

What makes a native speaker's claims more correct than another answer with N number of upvotes? Perhaps some of these upvotes were from other native speakers, should their votes (both upvotes and downvotes) now carry more weight?

I think this introduces too much subjectivity into the system which makes it essentially impossible to accurately implement.

  • the way wordreference.com has it is that you can state your "main language". i don't think anyone actually lied about this kind of things there. neither do i think ppl will lie about this kind of things here. and it has helped me alot in identifying good answers and answers that i should accept with a pinch-of-salt.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 17:07
  • a native speaker's claims will definitely be more accurate, unless another native speaker has a contrasting view
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 17:09
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    I think it would be unwise to go on the belief that native speakers always know what they are talking about. In your scenario where another native speaker has a contrasting view, whose opinion do you believe then? It sounds like it would come down to which of the native speakers has more support (votes from other SE users?). Reputation most certainly isn't necessarily a defining factor as someone that's new to the site may have a lot to add but have a low reputation. I think there is too much grey area here.
    – rcjsuen
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 17:25
  • you will be amazed after the hundreds of questions i'd asked at wordreference.com, how little of it has native speakers having contrasting views. I'd put that number below 1%
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 15:47
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    I am genuinely very surprised to hear this. This directly contrasts my experience with linguistic questions but I don't know what kind of questions you have been asking on that website. In any case, I suggest you encourage users to put information in their profiles if you wish to identify others' familiarity with the Japanese language.
    – rcjsuen
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 21:29
  • Like most here, I completely disagree that a native speaker's claim will be more accurate. It really depends on the type of question you're asking. If it's a question on language usage (e.g. which word for which situation), or about the social aspects of the language, then yes. But that represents only a small subset of all the questions that can be asked here. There are native speakers and then there are experts--the two are not one in the same. Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 14:52

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